Clara Sue Kidwell

Clara Sue Kidwell (born July 8, 1941) is an academic scholar, historian, feminist and Native American author who is of White Earth Chippewa and Choctaw descent.[1] She is considered to be a "major figure in the development of American Indian Studies programs."[2]

Clara Sue Kidwell
BornJuly 8, 1941
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
Scientific career
FieldsNative American Studies


Kidwell was born in Tahlequah, Oklahoma in 1941.[3] Kidwell grew up in Muskogee, Oklahoma and she was named for her two grandmothers, with whom she had a very close relationship as a child.[4] Her paternal grandmother helped raise her while her parents worked as clerks at the Bureau of Indian Affairs.[5] Kidwell attributes her focus on attention to detail to her childhood experiences learning from her parents to keep copies of everything and how to pay close attention to grammar from a high school teacher, Glady Nunn.[5] In 1959 Kidwell graduated from Central High School and went on to attend the University of Oklahoma (OU). Kidwell received her bachelor's degree in 1963.[5] While she was an undergraduate, she made the College Bowl Team which led to her receiving a fellowship in the history of science after she graduated with her bachelor's degree.[5] She earned her master's in 1966 from OU.[5] She finally received her Ph.D from the University of Oklahoma in 1970.[3]

Kidwell began to teach American Indian studies in 1970 at Haskell Indian Junior College (now Haskell Indian Nations University).[6] She worked at Haskell for two years until she left to be an associate professor at the University of California at Berkeley where she worked until 1993.[5] At Berkeley, her "research and publication flourished" and she received fellowships from the Newberry Library and the Smithsonian Institution.[7] In 1980, she was a visiting scholar and associate professor at Dartmouth College.[7] After Berkeley, she took her career in a new direction as the assistant director for cultural resources at the National Museum of the American Indian.[5] She helped move one million different pieces from the George Gustav Heye's Museum of the American Indian from New York to Washington, D.C.[1] In 1995, she chose a tenured position at the University of Oklahoma as the director of the Native American studies program.[5] She contributed the piece "Native Americans: Restoring the Power of Thought Woman" to the 2003 anthology Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium, edited by Robin Morgan.[8]

In 2007, Kidwell started the American Indian Center (AIC) at the University of North Carolina (UNC).[1] One of her major goals at AIC was to reach out to the many eastern tribes such as the Lumbee and Coharie who are unable to qualify for federal recognition with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for various reasons.[1] Under Kidwell's leadership, AIC has had success in North Carolina increasing programs that address education, health and child welfare for these kinds of unrecognized tribes.[1] She has also helped increase the "visibility of Native history and culture on campus."[1] Kidwell retired from her position as director of AIC in June 2011.[1]

Selected bibliography

  • Kidwell, Clara Sue (2009). "American Indian Studies: Intellectual Navel Gazing or Academic Discipline?". The American Indian Quarterly. 33 (1): 1–17. doi:10.1353/aiq.0.0041.
  • (2008). The Choctaws in Oklahoma: From Tribe to Nation, 1855–1970. foreword by Lindsay G. Roberston. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806140063.
  • ; Velie, Alan (2005). Native American Studies. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press. ISBN 978-0803278295.
  • (2003). "Native Americans: Restoring the Power of Thought Woman". Sisterhood is Forever. Washington Square Press. pp. 165–175. ISBN 9780743466271.
  • (2002). "American Indian Studies at the University of Oklahoma". In Champagne, Duane; Stauss, Jay (eds.). Native American Studies in Higher Education: Models for Collaboration between Universities and Indigenous Nations. Oxford, England: AltaMira Press. pp. 29–42. ISBN 9780759101258.
  • ; Noley, Homer; Tinker, George E. (2001). A Native American Theology. Orbis Books. ISBN 978-1570753619.
  • (1999). "The Vanishing Indian Reappears in the College Curriculum" (PDF). In Swisher, Karen Gayton; Tippeconnic, John (eds.). Next Steps: Research and Practice to Advance Indian Education. Eric Clearinghouse on Rural. pp. 271–292. ISBN 978-1880785218.
  • (1997). Choctaws and Missionaries in Mississippi, 1818–1918. University of Oklahoma Press. ISBN 978-0806129143.
  • (1994). "What Would Pocahontas Think Now?: Women and Cultural Persistence". Callaloo. 17 (1): 149–159. doi:10.2307/2932084.
  • (1992). "Indian Women as Cultural Mediators". Ethnohistory. 39 (2): 97–107. doi:10.2307/482389.
  • ; Roberts, Charles (1980). The Choctaws: A Critical Bibliography. Indiana University Press. ISBN 978-0253344120.
  • (1978). "The Power of Women in Three American Indian Societies". Journal of Ethnic Studies. 6 (3): 113–121.


  1. Lee, Tanya (2 August 2011). "Mother of Native American Studies Programs Retires from UNC, Heads for Bacone College". Indian Country. Retrieved 11 June 2015.
  2. "Clara Sue Kidwell - Biography". Vocal and Verbal Arts Archives. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  3. "Native American Authors: Clara Sue Kidwell, 1941-". ipl2. College of Information Science in Technology of Drexel University. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  4. Cox, Beverly; Jacobs, Martin (March 2004). "Oklahoma Feast". Native Peoples Magazine. 17 (3): 22. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  5. Scanlon, Jennifer; Cosner, Shaaron (1996). American Women Historians, 1700s-1990s: A Biographical Dictionary. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. pp. 132–134. ISBN 0313296642. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  6. Kidwell, Clara Sue (March 2011). "American Indian Studies as an Academic Discipline". American Indian Culture & Research Journal. 35 (1): 27–31. doi:10.17953/aicr.35.1.04638323085j4659. ISSN 0161-6463. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  7. Thiel, Mark G. (2005). Bataille, Gretchen M.; Lisa, Laurie (eds.). Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary (Taylor & Francis eLibrary ed.). Taylor & Francis Books. pp. 171–173. Retrieved 12 June 2015.
  8. "Library Resource Finder: Table of Contents for: Sisterhood is forever : the women's anth". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
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