Brenda J. Child is a Professor of American Studies and former Chair of the Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. She 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 is a current nominee for a bi-annual Minnesota Book Award for Best Book on Minnesota History.
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, 2000). The exhibit is credited with increasing attendance at the Heard Museum, especially 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 also part of a research group that developed a major digital humanities project, the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary (ojibwe.lib.umn.edu), which launched as a website in 2012. Child was born on the Red Lake Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota where she is a citizen and member of an eight-person committee engaging the community and writing a new constitution for the nation of 14,700. She resides with her family in Saint Paul and Bemidji, Minnesota.
"I have been part of NAISA from the earliest days, and the first meeting in Oklahoma. The following year, I was elected as a member of the Nominations Committee, charged with overseeing the first election. I have attended every conference, and was part of a local arrangements committee when NAISA was held at the University of Minnesota in 2009. I share the vision for NAISA that has been there since the beginning, to be at the center of excellent scholarship in Native American and Indigenous Studies, both within the United States and globally. I have always believed in the rich dynamic that exists within our academic work, informed as it is by Indigenous knowledge, culture, and experience and it is our collective commitment to the future of Indigenous people that sustains and gives meaning to this remarkable organization and its membership."