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Tendore, Russell Assume New Roles in UW Native American Programs

September 3, 2020
Reinette Tendore and Caskey Russell

The director of the University of Wyoming’s Native American Program for the past three years has been named as program director of UW’s Native American Education, Research and Cultural Center (NAERCC).

Reinette Tendore, who received her bachelor’s degree in elementary education and master’s degree in social work from UW, assumed the new role with the start of the fall semester.

“I am looking forward to taking on new duties and roles. To serve as the NAERCC program director here at UW is an honor,” Tendore says. “I am excited to continue the work to assist our Native students in achieving their higher education goals and to be a resource not only for our Native communities, but also the University of Wyoming, the state and the regional area.”

As Native American Program director, Tendore has worked closely with students at the NAERCC, supervising the office associate and student interns, and serving as a team member with the offices of Multicultural Affairs and Dean of Students, and the Center for Student Involvement and Leadership. The NAERCC is a resource for Native American students seeking support, a place to study and a sense of community. The center aims to enrich all UW students in their quest for an inclusive education and broaden knowledge of Indigenous peoples and Indigenous cultures.

Tendore has served nearly 40 current and prospective students a year, helping them navigate the requirements of their many degree programs and instilling in them the knowledge and self-confidence to be successful at UW and in life. She is dedicated to the retention and recruitment of Native American students. For the past five years, she has served as the main coordinator for UW’s Native American Summer Institute (NASI), which brings Native American high school students to campus for a week to experience college life. Many of the students involved in NASI have gone on to college at UW and elsewhere, and credit NASI for their success.

The NAERCC houses Native American student support services, the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program, the High Plains American Indian Research Institute, as well as NASI. As program director of the NAERCC, Tendore will oversee and coordinate the center’s daily functions and strengthen the relationships among the various programs housed in the center.

As a mother of four, including two of her own college students, Tendore values higher education for Native communities. Tendore is an enrolled member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe and also a part of the Northern Ute and Pyramid Lake Paiute tribes. She is married to Lee Tendore, also a UW alumnus who serves as the Eastern Shoshone tribal liaison for Gov. Mark Gordon. She was born and raised in Wyoming.

Meanwhile, a member of UW’s faculty, Caskey Russell, has been named the new director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program and the associate director of the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice.

Russell, an enrolled member of the Tlingit Tribe of Alaska, previously held the role as director of the program from July 2014-June 2017. As an associate professor in the Department of English and an adjunct faculty member in the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program for the past 16 years, Russell has a unique historical memory of the program and its development.

At the end of his previous term, Russell was instrumental in the formation and establishment of the School of Culture, Gender and Social Justice. Since his departure in 2017 as director, the program has moved to the NAERCC as its primary home.

Russell succeeds Angela Jaime, a UW faculty member since 2010 who has been appointed as vice dean in the College of Arts and Science at the University of Saskatchewan. As director of the Native American and Indigenous Studies Program since 2017, Jaime initiated the development of an Indigenous Language Center for the study, documentation and revitalization of Indigenous languages. That center is expected to become a reality during the 2021 academic year.

“I’d like to thank Dr. Jaime for lighting the spark to establish an Indigenous Language Center,” Russell says. “We will work hard to make this dream come to fruition.”

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