Advisory Committee

Judi M. gaiashkibos

Executive Director-Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs

Judi M. gaiashkibos has served as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs since 1995. She is an enrolled member of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska. Judi earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Human Relations in 2000 from Doane College, and in 2007, she earned her Master’s in Management with a Leadership Emphasis from Doane College.

In 2006, Judi was elected as the President of the Governor’s Interstate Indian Council (GIIC), a national organization with the mission of improving and promoting cooperation between state and tribal governments. She serves on several state advisory boards including the Nebraska Minority Justice Committee, the P-16 Leadership Council, and the Nebraska Partners in Prevention Coalition. She was also appointed to the University of Nebraska’s Presidents Advisory Council in 2008. Judi was the recipient of the Douglas County Historical Society 2009 Door Keeper Award in recognition of opening new doorways in the spirit of Unity, Equality and Understanding. In 2009, she was a lecturer and advisor for the first Native Daughters project at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications. She is also currently an adjunct professor for the second Native Daughters project focusing on Indian women of Oklahoma also through UNL. She is a member of the Racial Profiling Advisory Committee and of the U.S. Census Advisory Board as well. Judi is a Board Member of Interchurch Ministries/Grants to American Indians in Nebraska (GAIN), the Nebraska Rural Development Commission, and recently completed a 3-year term on United Way. She was the 2012 recipient of the prestigious Nebraska Humanities Sower Award and was appointed to the Doane Board of Trustees in 2012 as well. She is a member of the Sheldon Museum of Art’s Advisory Council. She is also actively involved in non-profit service.

William A. Locke Ph.D.

Emeritus Professor of Teacher Education-Hastings College

Will Locke, teacher of language arts and social studies at Hastings Junior High (1962-1989) specializes in outdoor education classes and historic trails programs. He is a Professor of educational psychology, teaching methods, and history at Hastings College 1992-2007. He leads summer classes for Hastings Public Schools and Hastings College along historic trails like the Oregon/California Trail, Santa Fe Trail, Land of Crazy Horse, Lewis and Clark Trail, Rio Grande Trails, and Rocky Mountain Trails (1983-2009). Will’s research interests include the Ute and Arapaho historic trails in the Colorado mountains, John C. Fremont’s 1848-49 expedition in the mountains of southwestern Colorado, Zebulon Pike’s 1806-1807 expedition in the Colorado mountains, Chief Standing Bear Trail of 1877, and learning theory.

Christine Lesiak

Executive Producer, NET Television

Over the past 25 years, Christine Lesiak has produced, written and directed numerous award-winning programs for PBS.

STANDING BEAR’S FOOTSTEPS explores the landmark trial of Ponca Chief Standing Bear, who went to court in 1879 to prove that Indians are persons under the law.   The documentary, winner of a Heartland Emmy and a Gabriel Award, premiered on PBS nationally in October of 2012

Lesiak wrote and co-produced WILLA CATHER—THE ROAD IS ALL for the PBS series American Masters.  Her American Experience documentary, MONKEY TRIAL, about the 1925 clash between science and religion, won both the Writer’s Guild Award and the George Foster Peabody Award in 2002.  IN THE WHITE MAN’S IMAGE, the Emmy-nominated documentary about the 19th century attempt to assimilate Native Americans, was awarded best history program by the Organization of American Historians and is still used in multi-cultural classes across America.

Previous programs for PBS and American Experience include AROUND THE WORLD IN 72 DAYS, WILD HORSES—AN AMERICAN ROMANCE & HEARTS OF ZAMBIA, about the HIV/AIDs crisis in Africa.

Along with Princella Parker, Christine Lesiak is currently producing a documentary about the first Native America doctor, Susan La Flesche Picotte, and her legacy among Native women healers of today.

Lesiak is a Summa Cum Laude graduate of the UCLA School of Theater Arts.  She received her MFA in film and television from UCLA in 1977.

Kaci Nash

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Kaci Nash is a Research Associate at the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She earned a Master’s Degree in History with a certificate in Digital Humanities at UNL, where her thesis, “’On our way for the Sunny South, land of Chivalry’: Northern Imperial Attitudes in the Civil War South” was awarded the Lowe R. & Mavis M. Folsom Distinguished Master’s Thesis Award from the Office of Graduate Studies. She had the privilege of researching the details of the removal journal of the Ponca for the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs in order to aid the Commission in its endeavor to obtain designation of a national Chief Standing Bear Trail.

Scott Shafer

Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs

Scott is an Administrative Assistant with the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs.  He oversees the Chief Standing Bear webpage and writes grant proposals for the Standing Bear Trail as well as for other projects.  Scott also assists in planning NCIA’s Chief Standing Bear Breakfast Commemorations.  He serves on the state planning committees for the Hispanic Heritage and Martin Luther King Commemoration events.  Scott helps plan and implement the Indian Commission’s annual Sovereign Native Youth Leadership academy.   Past projects include  growing of traditional Ponca grey corn for return to the Ponca tribe and serving as lead planner for several state tribal veterans programs.

Joe Starita

University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications

Joe Starita is a former New York Bureau Chief and investigative reporter for he Miami Herald, where one of his stories was a Pulitzer Prize finalist in local reporting. He is the author of “The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge” (1995/G.P. Putnam’s Sons/New York), which has been translated into six languages and was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He is also the author of “I Am A Man” – Chief Standing Bear’s Journey for Justice (2009/St. Martin’s Press/New York), which is in its seventh printing, was selected as the 2012 One Book-One Nebraska community read and is used widely in college and high school classrooms. Starita teaches reporting and feature writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln College of Journalism and Mass Communications and is writing a biography of Dr. Susan La Flesche Picotte, the nation’s first Native physician.

Larry Wright, Jr.

Chairman, Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

Larry Wright, Jr., currently serves as Chairman for the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska.  He also served as Chairman from 2006 to 2010.  Larry is an active member of the Heduska (Warrior) Society. This society is dedicated to the cultural preservation of traditional Ponca ways and helping tribal members.  Larry is a Northern Traditional Pow Wow dancer, and a Sundancer.  Larry currently owns his own business, Buffalo Spirit General Contracting.

Larry completed his Bachelor of Arts in Social Science from the University of Nebraska at Kearney in May 2001 and earned a Master of Arts in Historical Studies at Nebraska Wesleyan University in May 2007.  For six years, he served as a 7-12 Social Studies teacher in Lincoln Public Schools.  His previous teaching experience includes Civics, Geography, US and World History, and Advanced Placement Government and Politics.  He has been the American Indian Caucus Sponsor for Goodrich Middle School, North Star High School, and Lincoln High School.  A highlight of his teaching experience was being named the NSCSS Nebraska Social Studies Teacher of the Year—District 1 in 2004.

He finished his time at LPS as the Teaching American History Grant Coordinator for Lincoln Public Schools.  As Grant Coordinator, he directed a multimillion-dollar grant program that was designed to provide Social Studies teachers with curriculum and content development.

John R. Wunder

University of Nebraska-Lincoln

John R. Wunder is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the author of numerous books and articles, among which are “RETAINED BY THE PEOPLE”: A HISTORY OF AMERICAN INDIANS AND THE BILL OF RIGHTS (Oxford University Press, 1994), RECONFIGURATIONS OF NATIVE NORTH AMERICA, edited with Kurt Kinbacher (Texas Tech University Press, 2009), and “’Looking After the Country Properly’: A Comparative History of Indigenous Peoples and Australian and American National Parks,” INDIGENOUS LAW JOURNAL (University of Toronto College of Law) 2(Fall 2003): 1-42. He also introduced and taught the very first Native American history and comparative Indigenous undergraduate and graduate courses offered at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.