About the Conference Speakers

Twyla Hansen

Nebraska State Poet Twyla M. Hansen’s newest book of poetry is Rock • Tree • Bird (2017 Backwaters Press). Two previous books won Nebraska Book Awards. She co-directs poetryfromtheplains.org. Her writing is published in Poetry Out Loud Anthology, Prairie Schooner, Midwest Quarterly, Organization & Environment, Encyclopedia of the Great Plains, and more. 


Steve Rolfsmeier

Steve grew up near Seward, Nebraska and did not show much interest in plants until his senior year of high school, when he made a plant collection for advanced biology, and continued to collect as a hobby after graduation.  As an undergrad at Doane College, Steve worked extensively with the college's historical herbarium and eventually got a job working weekends in the University herbarium in Lincoln. A couple of years after finishing a masters degree at the University, he got an opportunity to spend a summer collecting on the Pine Ridge in 1991, and spent much of his off time volunteering for Ron Weedon in the Chadron State College herbarium.  This turned into a yearly gig, and eventually Ron coaxed he and his wife Susan to set up a computerized database for the Chadron State Herbarium in 2003.  Steve left for Kansas State University for Susan to complete a PhD in 2007, with the thought they would return after she finished.  Three years into the program, Ron died unexpectedly and Steve was asked to cover one of his fall courses and manage the herbarium in fall of 2010.  He was hired as full-time director of the High Plains Herbarium the following fall.


Robert Roy Foresman

Originally from Papillion, Nebraska and a graduate of Bellevue East High School, Robert Foresman currently is a PhD. Doctoral student of History at North Dakota State University. His areas of concentration are the Great Plains, Environmental, Military and Women’s and Gender Studies, under the advisement of Dr. Thomas Isern, Professor of History & University Distinguished Professor at NDSU. Additionally, Foresman is a Teaching Assistant for the Department of History, Philosophy and Religious Studies at NDSU and serves as an Executive Assistant for the Northern Plains Ethics Institution, where he is also an associate editor for the Northern Plains Ethics Journal. Foresman graduated with honors in 2011 from Chadron State College and subsequently attended the University of Nebraska at Kearney where he completed his MA in History in 2016. His current projects, including Mother’s Joy, include an upcoming publication with Arcadia and the History Press that is set to release in the summer of 2018 entitled Walter Matthau Reporting for Duty. The work concentrates on the spatial history of Walter Matthau (the famed Hollywood actor) at Kearney Army Air Base (Kearney, Nebraska) while serving as a wartime journalist and newspaper reporter in 1943. Additionally, Foresman is developing a project entitled Footprints on the Sands of Time—a digital history project and archive that examines and preserves the biographies and service records of twelve men who gave the ultimate sacrifice in World War I that were students at North Dakota Agricultural College (now NDSU). Foresman is an active member of Phi Alpha Theta, the American Historical Association, World War I Centennial Commission of North Dakota and serves as a board member on Saving Hallowed Ground, a national organization that works to generate a deep link between communities and local history by involving individuals in the work of historic preservation and commemoration. Foresman is currently working with the organization and the national WW1 Centennial Commission to preserve and protect Memory Trees of World War I-and recently was awarded the Alfred D. Bell Travel Grant from the Forest History Society-where he will travel to the FHS Weyerhaeuser Library and Archives in Durham, North Carolina next month to digitize and collect historical records to document Memory Trees in North Dakota and across the United States. The information will be used to develop another digital history project, Memory Trees of North Dakota.  His research is expected to produce a referenceable list of Memory Trees utilizing a digital topographic database with GIS Mapping. This grassroots project will allow for local communities to have access to an accessible, digitized historical database that may help in preservation and commemoration of both natural memorials and the human sacrifice associated with it from WW1.


John R. Wunder

John R. Wunder is professor emeritus of History from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  His specialty is the history of the American West, Native American history, and American legal history. He has long been active in Sandoz studies. Soon to be released by university presses are two of his most recent books: Echo of Its Time: The History of the Federal District Court of Nebraska, 1867-1933 by John R. Wunder and Mark R. Scherer (University of Nebraska Press) and Gold Mountain Turned to Dust: A Legal History of the Chinese in the Nineteenth Century American West by John R. Wunder.


Deb Carptenter-Nolting

Deb Carpenter-Nolting is an author, poet, storyteller, songwriter, performance artist, teacher, mother, wife, and breast cancer survivor. She currently teaches English at Potter-Dix High School and lives in Bushnell, Nebraska with husband Tim Nolting.


Martin Gilmore

Martin Gilmore is more than just a musician, he is a story teller. His songs and performances enlighten and entertain, often blending history with personal experience through original songs and reinterpretations of various folk music styles. As an experienced performer Martin has played shows all over the United States, Canada, Ireland, and Egypt (where he lived for the last two years). He recently returned to Colorado to join the music faculty at the University of Northern Colorado in the new bluegrass music program.


Jovan Mays

Jovan Mays is the emeritus Poet Laureate of Aurora, Colorado, a National Poetry Slam Champion, Curator of  A Story, a student narrative project in Aurora Public Schools, a TED Speaker and Director of Your Writing Counts, a youth poetry program throughout the Denver Metro that engages just over 200,000 students annually. 


Donette Lone Hill

Donette Lone Hill is knowledgeable in Lakota Culture. She is currently teaching Lakota Language and history at Pahin Sinte Owayawa. She is also learning Language Acquisition as a second language. Volunteer work with Generation Indigenous Ways camps held year around. The camps teach Science, Math, Writing, and Lakota Culture. Has work with students for 20 years in various schools on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Donette attended Oglala Lakota College. Received an AA and BS degree in Elementary Education with a K-12 Certificate in Special Education and a AA in Social Science. She is currently attending Oglala Lakota College to receive a K-12 Bachelor of Science in Lakota Studies. Donette Lives in Porcupine, South Dakota majority of her life. Continues living on the Pine Ridge Reservation helping different people and organizations on the reservation.


Mercedes Iron Cloud

Mercedes is a junior at Pine Ridge High School. She has attended elementary school at Rockyford School and Pahin Sinte Owayawa. In attending school Mercedes develop interests in Science, Inventing, and Environmental Advocate. In her interests she has won numerous awards in Science since Kindergarten. Received recognition for writing a paper on What a leader should be in 8th grade. A Junior Mentor at Generation Indigenous Ways camps. Recently, attended the 2017 Native Youth Community Adaptation and Leadership Congress a week-long student environmental conference. Held in National Conservation Training Center (NCTC), Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Mercedes lives in Porcupine, South Dakota. She is a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe. She is currently searching for information on Native Youth conferences. She is hoping to compete in the 2017 Lakota Nation Invitational Art competition with her beadwork.


David Nesheim

David Nesheim received his doctorate in history from the University of Nebraska -- Lincoln under the direction of John Wunder in 2009 and joined the faculty at Chadron State College in January 2012, where he currently holds an interim position as Director of Assessment. His specialty is Environmental History with an emphasis on the Great Plains and Native Americans, while recognizing plants and animals as important characters in our collective past. He has published articles in Environmental History and Great Plains Quarterly on buffalo husbandry in the twentieth century and presented Chautauqua workshops for Humanities Nebraska on the dispossession of Plains Indians. Although born on the East Coast while his father served in the US Army, he considers himself a third generation Great Plains resident and is proud to be bringing up a fourth generation with his wife, Kymm, (who was born in Altus, OK) and their two children, Myles and Cassidy, both born in Lincoln.


Alan Wilkinson

Alan Wilkinson is a British writer, living in the cathedral city of Durham, not far from the Scottish border. He has had a life-long interest in the American West, and it was a drive along the Oregon Trail in 1991 that first brought him to Nebraska. He was so impressed that he’s been back eighteen times. From this 26-year association have come two books about his travels in the Cornhusker state: The Red House on the Niobrara details his six-month stay, alone, in a tumbledown hunting lodge in the western Sandhills. ‘There Used to be a Guy… But He Died’ is an account of his solo bike-ride across the state from its lowest point near Rulo to its highest, near Kimball. His novel based on his family connection with Buffalo Bill, Cody, The Medicine Man and Me, was published by Ouen Press in April 2017.