Vine Deloria, Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium

12th Annual VIne Deloria, Jr., Symposium ~ May 19-21, 2017

The 12th Annual Vine Deloria , Jr. Indigenous Studies Symposium will be May 19-21, 2017, at Northwest Indian College’s Lummi campus in Bellingham, WA.

This year we acknowledge the efforts at Vine’s home, The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, by re-visiting work in his book         co-authored with David E. Wilkins, The Legal Universe:  Observations on the Foundations of American Law (2011).

Vine’s final chapter is the theme for this year’s conference:

                 The Natural World and The Law

                 For More Details: Final Event Agenda

The purpose of the annual Deloria Symposium is to honor the life and continue the discussion of pressing issues within Indian Country.  Vine was one of our nation’s foremost authors, intellectuals and scholars who never veered from challenging the status quo in order to improve the lives of Indigenous Nations whose voices were often underrepresented in mainstream Western decision-making processes.

Stay tuned to this website for agenda, proceedings, and updates as they become available.

Please also visit our Facebook page.



Registration Deadline is May 5, 2017.  All attendees and participants are required to register.  NWIC employees and students must register as well (no charge, but registration is required).

Registration includes an agenda, badge, meal tickets for three lunches and one dinner, in addition to a door prize ticket.


Late registration is from May 6 to May 21, both online and onsite (including 1/2 day of May 21st).  No door prize ticket for late registration May 6-21.




 Rita Asgeirsson

ph: 360-392-4257


Symposium Co-Planners

Emma Norman

Lexie Tom

Vina Brown



Abstract Proposals


Click here for the ABSTRACT PROPOSAL FORM.

Email proprosals to

Proposal Deadline is March 15, 2017.  Email response to proposals will be on March 20.


Thirty discounted rooms will be available until April 27 or May 5, 2017.  After dates, rooms are full-price.

Request the “Deloria Symposium” group rate for both hotels.

  • Silver Reef Hotel Casino and Spa ($99/night, only 10 king and 10 queen available) MAY 5 deadline
  • Oxford Suites Bellingham ($119/night, only 10 king suites available)  APRIL 27 deadline  
    • Complimentary full hot breakfast buffet
    • Complimentary free shuttle from hotel to campus – leaves the hotel daily at 7:45 AM, picks up from campus on Friday at 6:30 PM (after dinner), on Sat at 5:30 PM and Sunday at 12:00 PM


 For More Details (Click on Photo):


Jay Treaty

Hosted on NWIC’S campus, right after the Deloria Symposium concludes on Sunday, May 21, midday.

May 21-22, 2017        Northwest Indian College 

The conference is on the Jay Treaty as it pertains to North American Indigenous rights.

More details to follow at Jay Treaty website.

Please contact Kate Buchanan at with queries. 


Keynote Address

The Deloria Symposium is pleased to announce a dual keynote for this year’s symposium, Dr. Deborah and Ron His Horse Is Thunder.  Ron and Deborah are married and live at Standing Rock, both are longtime advocates working in many areas serving the needs of tribal communities and our tribal college network.  We welcome them both to Northwest Indian College and the Deloria Symposium.

Deborah His Horse is Thunder, Ed.D.

Deborah His Horse is Thunder, Ed.D. is a water protector and serves as the AIHEC NARCH Project Director and facilitates behavioral health research and effective intervention strategies for the Tribal Colleges and Universities. Dr. His Horse is Thunder has previously served as the AIHEC Student Success Project Director and the Director of Membership Services. Previously, Deborah served as the Chief Academic Officer at three tribal colleges: Haskell Indian Nations University, Fort Peck Community College, and Aaniiih Nakoda College. Her familiarity with tribal colleges and the challenges that American Indian students face in these institutions provides her with the essential foundation to effectively work with tribal communities. Deborah holds a doctorate in education, a master’s degree in higher education, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology. She has previous experience working with her own tribal community, held a tenure track faculty position at the University of Montana. She was appointed by President Bush to serve on the President’s Advisory Council on Tribal Colleges and Universities and she was appointed by Governor Racicot to serve on the Montana University System’s Board of Regents. Deborah is a tribally enrolled member of the Assiniboine (Nakoda) Nation and lives on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota.

Ron His Horse is Thunder, J.D.

Ron His Horse Is Thunder is a member of the Hunkpapa-Lakota Oyate from the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, where he served as the Tribal Chairman from 2005-2009. Presently, he serves as the Director for the Tribes Department of Transportation. He has in recent years partnered with his wife, Deborah, working with Tribal Colleges and Indian organizations as consultants providing services in Board training, community needs assessments, and assistance with accreditation issues.

He began his professional career in 1988 after graduating from the South Dakota School of Law with a Juris Doctorate degree. Serving in various capacities for Sitting Bull College (formerly Standing Rock College) until he was named as the college president in 1991. In 1993 he took two years off to head the American Indian College Fund, based out of New York, N.Y., where he served as its president until 1995. Shortly thereafter he accepted the position as president of Little Hoop College (now Cankdeska Cikana Community College) in Fort Totten, N.D. Returning to the presidency of Sitting Bull College in 1996, His Horse Is Thunder served in this capacity until his election as Tribal Chairman in 2005.

Ron has served on a number of professional commissions and boards serving Indian country. He was the appointed by President George W. Bush as Chairman of the President’s Board of Advisors on Tribal Colleges and Universities (WHITCU). He also served as a Commissioner for the Higher Learning Commission for the North Central Association for Schools and Colleges; as a Board member for The Native American Rights Fund, Area Vice President for the National Congress of American Indians, Chairman for the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association, just to name a few.