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Bust out your gold punch bowl — the UW’s American Indian Studies (AIS) program is celebrating its 50th anniversary this fall. American Indian students approached UW administrators about establishing a program during the flurry of civil rights activism in the late 1960s. By 1972, the Native American Studies program had a place on campus to coordinate courses and support Native students, faculty, and staff. (It was renamed the American Indian Studies program in 1988.) To honor the people who brought the program to life and those who have sustained it over the past five decades, AIS administrators recently launched an oral history project to collect the stories of students and early supporters. Participants include past AIS program directors like Ada Deer ’57 (pictured above) — the first Menominee to earn an undergraduate degree from the UW and the first woman appointed as assistant secretary of Indian affairs — and former faculty members like Patty Loew MA’92, PhD’98 of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe. Today, Denise Wiyaka (Yankton Sioux Tribe) directs the AIS program and oversees efforts to expand resources and course offerings to Native students. 

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