Biographies of Indigenous Historians

Brenda J. Child

(Red Lake Ojibwe) is Northrop Professor and former Chair of the Departments of American Studies and American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. She holds a Ph.D. in History that she received from the University of Iowa in 1993. In 2021, Child was the University of Minnesota’s recipient of the President’s Community Engaged Scholar Award.

She is the author of several award-winning books including Boarding School Seasons: American Indian Families, 1900-1940 (Nebraska, 1998); Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community (Penguin, 2012); and My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation (MHS Press, 2014). Overall, Child’s scholarship focuses on gender, labor, and family life in the Great Lakes and the history of Indigenous education.

In 2019, she curated an exhibit at the Mille Lacs Indian Museum in central Minnesota, Ziibaaska’iganagooday: The Jingle Dress at 100 and she has a popular new documentary, Jingle Dress Dancers in the Modern World: Ojibwe People and Pandemics (2020): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1F-1S71fHKs

Child is married to the Mille Lacs Ojibwe artist, Steven Premo, and they live with their family in St. Paul and Bemidji, Minnesota. Furthermore, she is currently a part of a 13-member committee writing a new constitution for the 13,000-member Red Lake Ojibwe nation in northern Minnesota, as the Minneapolis Representative.

Contact Information:

child011@umn.edu • 612-625-0895

History publications (2010-2020):

Child, Brenda. My Grandfather’s Knocking Sticks: Ojibwe Family Life and Labor on the Reservation. Minneapolis: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2014.

Child, Brenda J. “The Boarding School as Metaphor.” In Indian Subjects: Hemispheric Perspectives on the History of Indigenous Education, ed. Brenda Child and Brian Klopotek. Santa Fe: SAR Press, 2014.

Child, Brenda. Holding Our World Together: Ojibwe Women and the Survival of Community. New York: Viking, 2012.

Child, Brenda J. “The Absence of Indigenous Histories in Ken Burns’s the National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” The Public Historian 33, no. 2 (2011): 24–29.