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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Gwen Westerman

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Gwen Westerman Biography
College of Arts and Humanities, Minnesota State University, Mankato


Dr. Gwen Westerman holds her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English, and teaches at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Gwen received the Douglas R. Moore Faculty Research Award for her research on Dakota history and language. Gwen teaches American Literature, Technical Communication, American Indian Literature, and the Humanities to both undergraduate and graduate students. She strives to make learning applicable to her students’ interests, their other courses, and their long-range goals. Dr. Westerman co-wrote MniSota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota, with Bruce White, which won a Minnesota Book Award. She also published a collection of poetry written in Dakota and English entitled Follow the Blackbirds. Gwen’s poetry and visual art are inspired by personal connections to her Dakota family history.

“I search for ways to bring more focus onto the power of story and the importance of language.”

Honors and Awards:

2014 Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award
Douglas R. Moore Faculty Research Lecture Award
Minnesota Book Award
Leadership in History Award, American Association for State and Local History
Artist Initiative Grant
Presidential Teaching Scholar Fellow
Faculty Research Grant
Smithsonian Institution Fellowship



Recent Publications:

  • “Dena Unkiyepi (This is Who We Are): The Letters of the Dakota People 1848-1864”
  • Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota
  • Follow the Blackbirds

Work in Progress:

Gwen’s current research focuses on the letters of the Dakota people,
the topic of her Moore Lecture.

For more about Gwen Westerman’s art, please go to: