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American Indian Advisory Committee

  • AIAC participants
  • AIAC participants

The University of Minnesota, Morris American Indian Advisory Committee (AIAC) was established in 1988 to advise the chancellor. The AIAC is constituted to reflect the region’s American Indian communities. Members serve as liaisons between their communities and UMM, consulting with campus leaders on “matters related to campus programs and services on behalf of American Indian students; interests and concerns of the immediate American Indian community; methods to encourage and foster the educational advancement of American Indian students in admissions, retention, and achievement of educational objectives; and efforts to develop and increase support for American Indian educational advancement…at the community, state, and federal levels.” (University of Minnesota Board of Regents Policy – American Indian Advisory Boards, January 14, 1994) The Morris AIAC is the strongest advisory committee in the University of Minnesota system.

The AIAC has helped UMM recognize and act on its unique obligations and opportunities as a Native American Service Non-tribal Institution on the site of an American Indian boarding school (1887-1910), including:



American Indian Advisory Committee


Merlin Williams, Sr., AIAC Chair (1993 - present)
White Earth Band of Ojibwe
Long time director and educator American Indian Education Program, retired
Elk River School District
Co-chair, Minnesota Legislature Volunteer Working Group on Dakota and Ojibwe Language Revitalization and Preservation, 2011

Marisa Anywaush, Askedutawin (2017- present)
Upper Sioux Indian Community
Vice Chairwoman

Sisoka Duta, Wayne (Joe) Bendickson (2013 - present)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Dakota Language Teaching Specialist
University of Minnesota, Twin Cities

Kathy Denman-Wilke (2000 - present)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe
Director, Department of Indian Work
‎Interfaith Action of Greater Saint Paul

Leslie Harper (2014 - present)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe
Government Relations Specialist
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe

Joan LaVoy (1999 - present)
White Earth Band of Ojibwe
Past Director of Education
White Earth Nation

Heather Larsen (2015 - present)
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
Research Specialist, Tribal Education Department
Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

Jeanne McDougall (1988 - present)
White Earth Band of Ojibwe
Respected elder of the White Earth Community
Greeter, receptionist and student ally,
White Earth Tribal College

Jennifer Simon (2006 - present)
Cheyenne River Lakota
Director, American Indian Student Services
Augsburg College



UMM Circle of Nations Indigenous Association student co-chairs


Michelle Brownlee ‘18

Tarlynn Tone-Pah-Hote ‘18

UMM American Indian Science and Engineer Society (AISES) co-chairs


Adrianna Pollak ‘19