Presenter Biographies

Walter LaBatte
Walter LaBatte Jr. (Wasicun Hdi Najin), is a member at Upper Sioux. He is an accomplished Dakota artist and historian. Walter 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.

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. She is currently working on a new manuscript that chronicles her journey across four seasons as a Dakota gardener, forager, and lover of the land. A Perennial Odyssey includes story, poetry, and even a few recipes, intersecting gardening, growing and preparing food, ceremony, and how place heals and calls us to be a good relative. Teresa earned her doctorate in Education from the University of Minnesota Duluth and her undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota Morris. She 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.