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Joe Starita

Joe Starita is Pike Professor of Journalism in the University of Nebraska’s College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Previously, he spent fourteen years at The Miami Herald – four year’s as the newspaper’s New York Bureau chief and four years on its Investigations Team, where he specialized in investigating the questionable practices of doctors, lawyers and judges. One of his stories was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting. Interested since his youth in Native American history and culture, he returned to his native Nebraska in 1992 to research and write The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge – A Lakota Odyssey, published in 1995. The book was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in history, has been translated into six languages and is the subject of an upcoming documentary.

His second book – “I Am A Man” – Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice – was published in January 2009 and became the One Book – One Lincoln and the One Book – One Nebraska selections. The book tells the story of a middle-aged chief who attempted to keep a death-bed promise to his only son by walking more than 500 miles in the dead of winter to return the boy’s remains to the soil of their native Nebraska homeland along the Niobrara River. En route, the father unwittingly ended up in the cross-hairs of a groundbreaking legal decision in which a federal judge in Omaha declares - for the first time in the nation’s 103-year history - that an Indian “is a person” within the meaning of the law and entitled to some of the same Constitutional protections as white citizens.

His newest book, A Warrior of the People – a biography of Susan La Flesche, who overcame enormous racial and gender barriers to become the nation’s first Indian doctor – was published in 2016. In 2011, Starita received the Leo Reano civil rights award from the National Education Association for his extensive work and writings on behalf of Native American people. Starita established a scholarship fund for Native American high school graduates in 2014 and he is donating all proceeds from his new book to this fund.


Mary Donahue

Mary P. Donahue is an artist, designer, writer and professor of art at Chadron State College. She grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and moved to the west at eighteen. She has a BFA in advertising design and an MFA in painting from Utah State University and worked in advertising and design before becoming a faculty member at Chadron State. The landscape and its effect on identity and history have been the basis for much of her creative work,  She recently had the opportunity to experience these intersections of western landscape working as a wagon train extra in the new Coen brothers' movie, "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs," a portion of which was filmed in western Nebraska.


Laura Bentz

Laura Bentz is a fifth generation Nebraskan who was raised in Omaha. As a child she spent time with her grandfather who lived in Imperial. It was during those visits to the wide-open spaces she develop a deep connection to the wonderment of nature. In keeping with that connection, she moved to Albuquerque, NM to attend graduate school at the university and then, onto Gallup, NM where she worked at the University of New Mexico-Gallup. The high desert with its red mesas, Ponderosa forests, and all the stories held by such places provided great solace for Bentz. In 2005, making a kind of geographical circle, she returned to Nebraska to begin teaching at Chadron State College. Today, Bentz finds herself exploring the varied topography of  Nebraska Panhandle. The photographs exhibit are the documents of her bearing witness to this impressive landscape.


Katie Francisco (Representing the 2018 Sandoz Scholar)

Kate Francisco graduated with a B.A. in Creative Writing from Asbury University in 2012. She came to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2016 to pursue an M.A. in Costume History and Fashion Design. Her graduate minor is in English.  In 2017, she presented two projects at the International Textiles and Apparel Association. The first was a poster presentation, entitled Lingerie and Sexuality: Cultural Influences on the 1920s Woman. She also presented a design research piece based on the functions of the pyjama in the 1920s and 1930s, and how that concept can be applied today. In 2018, she debuted her first full historically based fashion line, inspired by the hostess pyjama concept of the late 1920s and early 1930s.  Her research focus covers many topics of dress from the 1920s to 1945. Her primary focuses are on the dress and culture of female pilots of the period, as well as lingerie and beachwear from the period. She also writes historic fiction from that time frame as well. She believes that historic fashion can give deeper insights into the culture and provide a rich background for writing.

Mari Sandoz: Crafting a Nebraskan Character (and the research award which supported it) was the result of the collective effort of graduate students in the Spring 2018 University of Nebraska-Lincoln course, Museums: Theory and Practice (TMFD 809). Our symposium presentation draws on the work of fellow students and we would like to acknowledge their important contributions: Younhee Kang, Bethany Kraft, Andrea Kruse, Ryan Mathison, Amy Neumann, and Nicole Rudolph.

Dr. Claire Nicholas (2018 Sandoz Scholar Instructor)

Claire Nicholas is Assistant Professor of Textiles and Material Culture in the Department of Textiles, Merchandising & Fashion Design at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She holds a PhD in socio-cultural anthropology from Princeton University, a DEA from EHESS (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris), and completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of Alberta.  Her research focuses on the ethnography of craft and design process, pedagogy, and the everyday practices (and politics) of making and interpreting material and visual culture. She has conducted fieldwork in Morocco and across North America in contexts ranging from artisanal textile workshops to university architecture studios.


Kimberli Lee (Hunka Lakota)

Kimberli Lee is an associate professor of English in the Department of Languages and Literatures and Cherokee and Indigenous Studies at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. She is the author of I Do Not Apologize for the Length of this Letter: The Mari Sandoz Letters on Native American Rights, 1940-1965. Her second book is Indigenous Pop: Native American Music from Jazz to Hip Hop (2016). Other areas of interest include Indigenous literatures, rhetorics, film, pedagogies, and Great Plains studies. She is currently serving as the director for English Graduate Studies at Northeastern, and planning her next writing project focusing on “academic kinships” in Native studies.


Dr. Elizabeth (Beth) Castle

Dr. Castle brings almost 20 years of experience as a scholar, activist, and media maker working in collaboration with Native Nations and underrepresented communities. Warrior Women is based on the research done for her book "Women were the Backbone, Men were the Jawbone: Native Women’s Activism in the Red Power Movement."

While completing her Ph.D. at Cambridge University, she worked as a policy associate for President Clinton’s Initiative on Race and in 2001 she served as a delegate for the Indigenous World Association at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa. While working as an academic specialist for UC Berkeley’s Oral History Office, she received the University of California President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship at UC Santa Cruz under the supervision of Professors Angela Davis and Bettina Aptheker.

Dr. Castle was a professor in the Native Studies Department at the University of South Dakota and is the founder and Executive Director of The Warrior Women Oral History Project. Castle has numerous publications including “The Original Gangster: The Life and Times of Red Power Activist Madonna Thunder Hawk.” Warrior Women is Castle’s directorial debut.


Madonna Thunder Hawk (Cheyenne River Sioux)

Madonna Thunder Hawk, an Oohenumpa Lakota, is a veteran of every modern Native occupation from Alcatraz, to Wounded Knee in 1973 and more recently the NODAPL protest at Standing Rock. Born and raised across the Oceti Sakowin homelands, she first became active in the late 1960s as a member and leader in the American Indian Movement and co-founded Women of All Red Nations and the Black Hills Alliance. In 1974, she established the We Will Remember survival group as an act of cultural reclamation for young Native people pushed out of the public schools. An eloquent voice for Native resistance and sovereignty, Thunder Hawk has spoken throughout the United States, Central America, Europe, and the Middle East and served as a delegate to the United Nations in Geneva.

In the last three decades at home on Cheyenne River, Thunder Hawk has been implementing the ideals of self-determination into reservation life. She currently works as the tribal liaison for the Lakota People's Law Project in fighting the illegal removal of Native children from tribal nations into the state foster care system. She established the Wasagiya Najin "Grandmothers' Group" on Cheyenne River Reservation to assist in rebuilding kinship networks and supporting the Nation in its efforts to stop the removal of children from Native families.


David Christensen

David Christensen received his PhD in history from the University of Nevada-Las Vegas in 2016. While growing up in Alliance, NE, David developed an interest in the history of western Nebraska and the greater North American West. In 2012, he received a Newberry Consortium on American Indian Studies Graduate Student Fellowship. His upcoming book, titled Activism from the Homeland: The Lakota Civil Rights Struggle in Western Nebraska, 1917-2000 (University of Nebraska Press), examines the grassroots origin of off reservation Lakota civil rights activism in western Nebraska. David currently lives in Omaha, NE.