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Debra Barker to receive Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award

RELEASED: March 22, 2011

Debra Barker
Dr. Debra Barker

EAU CLAIRE — Dr. Debra Barker, professor of English and American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, will receive a UW System Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award March 26 at UW-Madison.

"I appreciate that the UW System is acknowledging the work we do to promote diversity and create an environment wherein students of color may thrive," said Barker, whose scholarship and research studies focus on American Indian literature, culture, and political representations of American Indians in textbooks. "I am very committed to the work I do in the classroom to share historical, social and political issues relating to American Indians."

Barker is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe (Sicangu Lakota Nation). Her publications include articles on the Indian boarding school system, Lakota women's life writings, and the literary production of Louise Erdrich.

A particular theme of Barker's work addresses the political and moral necessity of Act 31 compliance to ensure that Wisconsin children grow into a broader understanding about the history and cultures of Wisconsin Indians throughout their public school education.

"I realized early on the complexity of Native American-settler relations in the state of Wisconsin, seeing all — the positive and the negative — reflected in my classroom," Barker said. "To a certain extent I see my work in the classroom as an opportunity to not only relate course content but also to educate students to become empathetic citizens, as they arrive at some clarity in the process of sorting through their thoughts and emotions about American Indians."

Upon joining UW-Eau Claire in 1993, Barker worked with the founders of the university's American Indian studies major, drafting curriculum for core courses and chairing the American Indian Studies Committee, and later serving as a director of the fledgling American Indian studies program in 1996. She also has served as adviser to the Native American Student Association.

Barker's other affiliations include serving as president of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, a delegate assembly member in the Modern Language Association representing Ethnic Studies, a member of the MLA Committee on Native American Languages, and MLA's Committee on the Literatures of People of Color in the United States and Canada.

Barker was recognized in 2010 by the UW-Eau Claire Office of Multicultural Affairs with the Distinguished Service Award.

The ceremony for the UW System Outstanding Woman of Color in Education Award takes place in conjunction with the annual Wisconsin Women's Studies and LGBTQ conference.

The UW System Outstanding Women of Color in Education Awards were initiated in 1994 to acknowledge the ties and shared concerns among administrators, faculty, staff and students within women's studies and ethnic studies, and to uphold a continuing commitment to Plan 2008: Education Quality through Racial and Ethnic Diversity.

For more information, contact Dr. Debra Barker at 715-836-2028 or barkerdk@uwec.edu.

-30-

RD/JP

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