School of Education News

UW-Madison’s Poler receives Leadership Award from Association for Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museums

November 15, 2019

UW-Madison’s Omar Poler (Sokaogon Ojibwe) was recently honored with the Association for Tribal Libraries, Archives, and Museum's 2019 Leadership Award.

Omar Poler
Omar Poler is the the American Indian curriculum
services coordinator with the School of Education’s
Teacher Education Center.
This award honors individuals with exceptional abilities to lead and inspire, as reflected in extraordinary accomplishments with broad impact on the field of indigenous culture. Poler was chosen for his “quiet strength, inclusionary spirit, and devotion to Great Lakes cultural institutions.”

Poler is the American Indian curriculum services coordinator with the School of Education's Teacher Education Center.

In 2010, Poler organized the first Convening Culture Keepers gathering of tribal librarians, archivists, and museum curators from Wisconsin, Michigan, and Minnesota. As a result of his leadership, participants were able to establish lasting partnerships with other tribal communities, resulting in meaningful contributions to the preservation of indigenous cultural heritage in the region.

Three years later, while serving as an outreach specialist with UW-Madison’s iSchool, Poler worked closely with leaders in tribal institutions to identify professional development needs, which culminated in multiple regional professional development institutes and a multi-year effort to develop a community co-curated traveling exhibition aimed at tribal youth. 

Many of those Poler has worked with played a part in nominating him for this award, praising Poler’s ability to be patient and respectful while also exhibiting strong leadership. Janice M. Rice, Ho-Chunk nation elder and emerita librarian at UW-Madison shares, “He balances his knowledge of indigenous ways with goals of academia while remaining true to cultural preservation values that culture keepers have shared with him.”

“Indigenous cultures, languages, and histories have unparalleled beauty, power, and importance,” says Poler. “It is a profound honor to be recognized by so many American Indian cultural professionals working tirelessly every day in their communities to preserve, maintain, and revitalize them.”

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