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Indigenous Community at Macalester

Macalester is on the ancestral homeland of the Dakota people and the Twin Cities are home to a large and vibrant Indigenous community. Native American, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander students at Macalester can benefit from coursework focused on Indigenous issues, on-campus events, and internship and volunteer opportunities at Indigenous-led organizations in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Proud Indigenous Peoples for Education

Indigenous students and alumni are active members of their communities and push Macalester to be a better place. Indigenous students at Mac have organized events including: pow wows, panel events on Native identity, blood quantum, and community, and community meals sharing Indigenous foods. 

The student organization Proud Indigenous Peoples for Education (PIPE) has made instrumental contributions to the Macalester community with their activism. PIPE helped compose the widely used land acknowledgement, advocated for the representation of Tribal Nations flags in Cafe Mac and during Commencement, and actively pushed for the renaming of the Humanities building

Zoe Allen ’22, she/her, Rosebud Sioux Nation and White Earth Nation
AJ Papakee ’23, they/them, Meshwaki Nation of Iowa,
Kaelene Spang ’23, she/her, Northern Cheyenne and Crow

Connect with PIPE at [email protected] or on Instagram @pipe_at_mac

Indigenous Studies

Classes on Native American and Indigenous communities, politics, and histories can be found in the Anthropology, Linguistics, Sociology, History, American Studies, Environmental Studies, Media and Cultural Studies, and Spanish and Portuguese departments. Students can learn from several Indigenous professors at Macalester across academic disciplines.

Professor Katie Phillips

History Professor Katrina Phillips

Professor Phillips (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe) teaches courses on Native history and the history of the American West. Her current research centers Ojibwe activism, environmentalism, and tourism. Check out the 60-Second Syllabus overview of her class “American Indian History since 1871!”

Chemistry Professor Ronald Brisbois

Professor Brisbois (White Earth Ojibwe) teaches courses on organic chemistry and synthesis, with an emphasis on student-faculty collaborative research projects leveraging the power of chemical synthesis to innovate known reactions, invent new reactions, and construct previously unknown molecules.

American Studies Professor Kirisitina Sailiata

Professor Sailiata ‘06 (Samoan) researches and teaches Critical Indigenous Studies with an emphasis on Oceania, transnational feminisms, social movements, film/new media, U.S. imperialism, law and the environment.

Linguistics Professor Morgan Sleeper

Professor Sleeper ‘11 (Cherokee Nation) teaches courses on the intersection of music and language, by using new methodologies for integrating musical and linguistic data in structural linguistics, sociocultural linguistics, and language revitalization.

Psychology Professor Jill Fish

Professor Fish (Tuscarora Nation) teaches courses in Indigenous Psychology, Cultural Psychology, and Qualitative Methods. Her most recent research examined the use of digital storytelling as an intervention tool to promote identity and wellness among Native people in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and Duluth.

Commencement moccasins worn by Abaki Beck ’15
Professor Kiri Sailiata’s Radical Reelism: Indigeneity, Politics and Visual Culture class viewing artist Nicholas Galanin’s collection in the Law Warschaw Gallery on campus Fall 2019.
PIPE Involvement Fair booth
Grand Entry during a PIPE organized powwow spring 2013
Flag from the Blackfeet Nation (Montana): Flags flown around Cafe Mac include Native American nations in which current students are enrolled members.
Indigenous student activism during Native American Heritage Month

$1 million grant

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation recently awarded Macalester a $1 million grant. Combined with a financial commitment from the college, the generous grant from the nation’s largest supporter of arts and humanities will enable Macalester to create a multi-faceted initiative dedicated to engagement with and scholarship around Indigenous people, culture and history.

Twin Cities Community & Civic Engagement

Minnesota and the Twin Cities are home to many vibrant Indigenous communities, including seven Ojibwe reservations, four Dakota communities, and a strong Ho-Chunk presence. At Macalester, students can take advantage of Indigenous community events, businesses along the American Indian Cultural Corridor, and internship and volunteer opportunities at Indigenous-led and Indigenous-serving organizations.

Indigenous Alumni 

Native American and Indigenous alumni have made contributions in the fields of journalism, art, film, education, and more. 

  • Brian Bull ‘91 (Nez Perce) is an award-winning journalist for NPR, and has a long history of raising indigenous voices. 
  • Walter “Super” LaBatte Jr.’70 (Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota) is an artist, specializing in beaded moccasins and drummaking.  
  • Julian Keikilani Ako ‘65 (Native Hawaiian) was a high school principal and award-winning composer of Hawaiian language music. 
  • Alumni Board member Abaki Beck ‘15 (Blackfeet and Red River Metis) is a public health researcher and writer.
  • Ajuawak Kapashesit ’13 (Ojibwe and Cree) is an award winning actor, writer, and filmmaker who has worked in theater, film, and television since 2016. He has worked on indigenous environmental justice and language reclamation projects across Turtle Island.
  • Logan Tootle, MSW, ‘17  (Cherokee Nation) is a social worker and philanthropic program associate with a commitment to allocating resources back to Indigenous communities, addressing gender-based violence, and advocating for survivors of trafficking and domestic violence.  
  • Gabrielle Funaro Strong ’86 (Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota) is the NDN Foundation Managing Director at the NDN Collective, providing structural advocacy for indigenous communities. She is also on the Board of the Ain Dah Yung Center in Saint Paul, MN.

Connect with Us

We welcome your questions and conversation about the Indigenous Community at Macalester and in the surrounding Twin Cities. Reach out to our team!

Macalester Admissions, Diversity and Inclusion

[email protected]