American Indian Resource Center to host fall summit on Indian education

BEMIDJI, Minn. (Sept. 14, 2009) — For more than 40 years, Bemidji State University graduate Dr. Will Antell has been on the front lines advocating higher education opportunities for American Indians. On Thursday, Sept. 24, he will return to his alma mater to discuss his lifetime of work during the American Indian Summit sponsored by Bemidji State’s American Indian Resource Center.

Antell’s keynote address, which will be held at 10:30 a.m. in the center’s on-campus facility, will focus on the development of American Indian education beginning in the 1950s, when few opportunities existed for Indian people to pursue higher education, through its evolution to today’s college campuses with resource centers and support programs dedicated to Indian students.

Antell has spent more than four decades in public education including 20 years in the Minnesota Department of Education. While at the department, he served nine years as the assistant commissioner of education.

He also worked at the state and national level in setting educational policy for American Indian education. He was appointed by Presidents Nixon and Ford to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education, a group of 15 American Indians and Native Alaskans that advised the President and United State Congress on education policy for American Indians. He continued in that position during President Carter’s administration.

A former Bush Fellow and faculty member at the University of Minnesota and Harvard University, Antell served six years as a trustee in the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system from 2000-06. In 2005, he was given a Life Achievement Award by the National Indian Education Association. Antell was one of the signatories on the incorporation papers that founded the association in 1970.

Antell holds a bachelor of science degree from Bemidji State University, a master of science degree from Minnesota State University, Mankato and a doctorate in education from the University of Minnesota.

Antell’s keynote address is part of a day-long summit on the history and current status of Indian education, titled “Indian Education: Yesterday and Today.” Registration for the summit begins at 8:30 a.m., with a pipe ceremony and welcome scheduled for 10 a.m. A panel presentation on best practices by a number of Indian educators will follow Antell’s keynote at 11 a.m.

Following a lunch break, a panel of five Indian students will hold a panel discussion entitled “What Works, What Helps.” Participants on the panel include students from Bemidji State University, Itasca Community College, Central Lakes College and other area colleges and universities.

A comments and recommendations panel will be held at 2 p.m., and the summit will conclude with a closing ceremony at 3 p.m.

Registration for the event, which includes lunch, is $15, and is payable at the door. To register by mail, or for more information about the fall summit, contact the American Indian Resource Center by phone at (218) 755-2032.