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UW-Green Bay graduates first class of doctors of Indigenous education

GREEN BAY – Dr. Crystal Lepscier, Ed. D, was looking for a way to help other Indigenous students navigate their way through microaggression racism while working on her dissertation.

For her, it was about reconnecting with traditional Indigenous ways, such as by learning how to make moccasins and then teaching that skill to others.

Reconnecting to one’s culture can be effective in addressing “racial battle fatigue,” Lepscier argued in her dissertation.

“It’s about becoming grounded in who you are and exploring your identity as a way to address this (racism),” she said.

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Lepscier, who is a citizen of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa in Montana and is a Menominee and Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican descendant, graduated this month as part of the first class in a doctorate program in First Nations Education at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

“One reason why I wanted to do this was because it’s brand new,” she said. “It’s a new thought on a doctoral program from an Indigenous perspective.”

Lepscier was part of the first cohort of students who started their education in the program in 2018.

Crystal Lepscier was among the first graduating class of doctors in First Nations Education at the UW-Green Bay.

In creating the program, academic researchers conducted listening sessions with everyone from high school students to elders in each of the tribal communities in Wisconsin to learn what should be focused on.

“This program is grounded in renewal of Indigenous ways of knowing, doing and being,” said Dr. Lisa Poupart, director of the program. “It’s about that connection to all living things… and living in balance.”

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