Commencement speaker announced

Shaina James

Former assistant secretary for Indian Affairs with the U.S. Department of the Interior Ada Deer will be this year’s NMU commencement speaker.

The graduation ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, May 5.

Deer will also receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from the sociology and social work department of NMU.

Deer was the first woman to hold the position as a tenured assistant secretary, which was from 1993-97.

She worked to ensure tribal sovereignty and enforce the government-to-government relationship.

Deer retired as director of the American Indian studies program in 2007 after working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

She was also a distinguished lecturer in the School of Social Work at UW-Madison.

Deer was raised on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Shawano, Wis. and was the first American Indian woman to graduate from UW-Madison and the first American Indian to graduate from the Columbia University School of Social Work.

She was also the first American Indian to win a partisan political primary for a federal office.

Once the NMU Commencement Speaker and Honorary Degrees Committee has selected a recommendation for a commencement speaker from all the candidates, that recommendation goes through an approval process, according to Cindy Paavola, director of Communications and Marketing.

Deer is planning to speak on the responsibility of people to make a positive change in our society, “to make it more just, empathetic, and equitable.”