Skip navigation

Presenter Biographies

Walter LaBatte
Walter LaBatte Jr. (Wasicun Hdi Najin), Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, is an accomplished Dakota artist and historian. He lives in the valley of the Minnesota River, where he was born and raised. He is the co-author of a collection of Dakota stories, including those he heard growing up in his community, called Voices from Pejuhutazizi: Stories and Storytellers, published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 2022. He is also nationally recognized for his handmade beaded moccasins and richly painted powwow drums.

Thomas Peacock
Thomas Peacock is the author of a dozen books on Ojibwe history and culture, Native education, racism, and fiction. His latest works include Walking Softly, The Fire, The Tao of Nookomis, The Dancers, The Forever Sky, Beginnings and The Wolf’s Trail. His books have garnered awards, including two Minnesota Book Awards, Multicultural Children’s Book Award (National Association on Multicultural Education), and Indie adult fiction writer of the year (2020 Minnesota Library Foundation for The Wolf’s Trail). He is a member of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Anishinaabe Ojibwe.

Teresa Peterson
Teresa Peterson, Utuhu Cistinna Win, is Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota and citizen of the Upper Sioux Community. Teresa and her uncle, Walter LaBatte Jr recently authored, Voices from Pejuhutazizi: Dakota Stories and Storytellers, published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press. She is also the author of Grasshopper Girl, a children’s book published by Black Bears and Blueberries Publishing, a contributor to Voices Rising: Native Women Writers, and has poetry in The Racism Issue of the Yellow Medicine Review. Teresa earned her doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota Morris and currently serves as a Program Manager for the Foundation at NDN Collective. Teresa’s passion is digging in her garden that overlooks the Mni Sota River valley and feeding friends and family.

Gwen Nell Westerman 
Gwen Westerman’s roots are deep in the landscape of the tall grass prairie, and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family. She is an enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate, her father’s people, and a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, her mother’s people. She is the co-author of Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota which won a 2013 Minnesota Book Award, and a 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award. Gwen's poems, essays, and short stories appear in numerous publications, including the Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (2020); the Minnesota issue of Quiltfolk (January 2020); and New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf Press, 2018). She teaches American and Native Nations literatures, Technical Communication, and Humanities to undergraduate and graduate students at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

Joshua Whitehead
Joshua Whitehead (he/him) is a Two-Spirit, Oji-nêhiyaw member of Peguis First Nation (Treaty 1). He is currently a Ph.D. candidate, lecturer, and Killam scholar at the University of Calgary where he studies Indigenous literatures and cultures with a focus on gender and sexuality. His dissertation, tentatively titled Feral Fatalisms; is a hybrid narrative of theory, essay, and non-fiction that interrogates the role of ferality; inherent within Indigenous ways of being (with a strong focus on nêhiyawewin). He is the author of full-metal indigiqueer (Talonbooks 2017) which was shortlisted for the inaugural Indigenous Voices Award and the Stephan G. Stephansson Award for Poetry. He is also the author of Jonny Appleseed (Arsenal Pulp Press 2018) which was long listed for the Giller Prize, shortlisted for the Indigenous Voices Award, the Governor General’s Literary Award, the Amazon Canada First Novel Award, the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award, and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction and the Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction. Whitehead is currently working on a third manuscript titled, Making Love with the Land to be published with Knopf Canada, which explores the intersections of Indigeneity, queerness, and, most prominently, mental health through a nêhiyaw lens. Currently, Whitehead is premiering his newly edited anthology, Love after the End: an Anthology of Two-Spirit and Indigiqueer Speculative Fiction. You can find his work published widely in such venues as Prairie Fire, CV2, EVENT, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Fiddlehead, Grain, CNQ, Write, and Red Rising Magazine.