An NEH Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshop hosted by the Spencer Museum of Art

Brenda Child, PhD

Professor and Chair, American Studies, University of Minnesota
Primary office:


Brenda J. Child is Professor and Chair of the Department of American Studies and former Chair of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. She is a renowned scholar on American Indian history and Indigenous education; her award-winning book Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families 1900-1940 (1999) is a core text for our workshops and will be one of the advance readings you should complete before arriving in Lawrence. For the July workshop, Dr. Child will provide a presentation on Haskell Institute from the perspective of individual students and their families, which will draw from her research in Haskell's archivs and which formed the bases for Boarding School Seasons.

Dr. Child received her PhD in History at the University of Iowa. Her first book, Boarding School Seasons:  American Indian Families, 1900-1940 (University of Nebraska, 1998), won the North American Indian Prose Award. Child’s newest books are Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community (Penguin, 2012) and Indian Subjects: Hemispheric Perspectives on the History of Indigenous Education (with Brian Klopotek, SAR Press, 2014). A recent book, My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014) combines a family memoir of her grandparents’ working lives, with a broader history of others of their generation. It won the National American Indian Book Award from Arizona State University, the Best Book in Midwestern History from the Midwestern History Association, and an Award of Merit from the American Association of State and Local History.

Dr. Child is a trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian-Smithsonian. She serves on the Repatriation Committee, the Executive Committee, and Chairs the Scholarship and Collections Committee. She is also a trustee of the Minnesota Historical Society. She was an original consultant to the exhibit, “Remembering Our Indian School Days” at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona and co-author of the book that accompanied it, Away From Home (Heard Museum, 2000). The exhibit is credited with increasing attendance at the Heard Museum, especially American Indian visitors, and she is now part of a team reinterpreting the exhibit. At the University of Minnesota, she was a recipient of the President’s Award for Outstanding Community Service and is co-founder of a major digital humanities project, the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary, which launched as a website in 2012. She is President-Elect of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Association. Dr. Child was born on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota where she is a citizen and member of a committee writing a new constitution for the nation of 11,900. She resides with her family in Saint Paul and Bemidji, Minnesota.


PhD, University of Iowa

MA, University of Iowa

BS Ed, Bemidji State University

Dates of Workshop Sessions

Session I: June 18-24, 2017 

Session II: July 9-15, 2017

Contact Information

Cassandra Mesick Braun, Project Co-Director: | 785-864-6794

Celka StraughnProject Co-Director: | 785-864-0136

Sydney PurselProject Intern: | 785-864-5253

The University of Kansas
Spencer Museum of Art
1301 Mississippi Street
Lawrence, KS 66045  | 785-864-4710

Spencer Museum of Art University of Kansas

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
KU Today