UW-Green Bay awards inaugural doctoral degrees in First Nations Education | Madison365

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay last week awarded its first-ever doctoral degrees in First Nations Education.Yekuhsiyo Rosa King, Crystal Leah Tourtillott Lepscier, Artley Murray Skenandore Jr. and Vicki Lee Young all received their degrees at the 2022 spring/summer commencement exercises on Saturday. They are four of the 12 students who make up the program’s first cohort, which began coursework in 2018. The other eight will defend their dissertations in the coming semesters. “This particular degree in First Nations education allows me to help open doors for our communities,” said Lepscier, who works as UW-Green Bay’s First Nation Student Success Coordinator. Lepscier said UW-Green Bay officials engaged in dialog with Wisconsin’s Indigenous nations before launching the program, to find out what Indigenous communities would want from such a degree program. She said she appreciated that the program allowed a different mindset than traditional academic research methods.

“I’ve been trained in different research methods that are very specific to the Western academic space,” she said. “And in this program, I was challenged to kind of understand myself as an Indigenous scholar, and that my voice can be central to that scholarship, as opposed to when I went to (UW)-Madison, where when you’re writing an academic paper, you have to pretend like you don’t exist. Even the way that you structure your sentences to say, basically, that you’re unbiased, and you’re not involved. And so being able to flip that script and write it, from my perspective, as an indigenous scholar really empowered me.”

Skenandore, the principal and athletic director at Oneida Nation High School, said he also appreciated that the program was grounded in an Indigenous understanding of learning and knowledge.

“When you look at Indigenous nations, it’s all about our original knowledge base. And that original knowledge base is the oral history,” he said. “That’s the strength of how we duplicate ourselves as nations is that oral history.”

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