Jill Doerfler

Professional Title
Professor, Department Head

Ph.D. American Studies, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, 2007

Dissertation: “Fictions and Fractions: Reconciling Citizenship Regulations with Cultural Values Among the White Earth Anishinaabeg”

B.A. History and American Indian Studies, minor in Anthropology, University of Minnesota-Morris, 2001
Senior Paper: “Political Change and Adaptation Strategies of the Anishinaabeg”

I joined the Department of American Indian Studies in the fall of 2008, was tenured in 2013, and became Department Head in 2014. I earned my B.A. in History from the University of Minnesota-Morris and my Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Minnesota. During 2007-2008, I was the Chancellor's Postdoctoral Fellow in American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois. My primary area of scholarly interest is American Indian, specifically Anishinaabe, identity with a political focus on citizenship.

Growing up on the White Earth reservation, I was all too familiar with the divisions that the use of blood quantum as the sole requirement for tribal citizenship (1961) caused. After a political crisis during the 1990s, there was a growing concern about the vast numbers of Anishinaabeg being excluded under the blood quantum requirement; families were literally divided with some possessing the blood quantum required for citizenship and others lacking it. I felt compelled to research the history of tribal citizenship and blood quantum. My research is premised on my commitment to bridging scholarly efforts with the practical needs of American Indian peoples, communities, and nations. My research draws upon both historical documents and literature to delineate Anishinaabe conceptions of identity in the 20th and 21st centuries. I am especially interested in the ways in which Anishinaabeg resisted pseudo-scientific measures of blood (race/blood quantum) as a means to define identity. One of my newer areas of research dovetails with community service and focuses on the process of constitutional reform. I worked with the White Earth Nation from 2007 to 2015 on constitutional reform efforts. I found working with the White Earth Nation to be rewarding and it has solidified my commitment to partnerships between scholars and Native nations.

From 2016 to 2019, I co-coordinated and participated in a Minnesota Chippewa Tribe wide grassroots community education and empowerment project designed to empower people to be full participants in their tribal governments by providing informational educational materials in an engaging format to teach about Native nation rebuilding concepts, the Constitution of the Minnesota Chippewa Tribe, governance options, and the impacts governance has our lives every day. Please see zaagibagaang.com as well as our Facebook page for more information.

AMIN 1020: American Indian Experiences: 1900-present 

AMIN/TAG 2820: Foundations of Indigenous Leadership

AMIN/TAG 4840: Current Issues and Opportunities in Tribal Administration and Governance



2023. Book. Co-authored with Mathew Martinez. Deb Haaland: First Native American Cabinet Secretary part of the Gateway Biographies series (Minneapolis: Lerner Publishing Group).

2021. Chapter. “Beyond the Borders of Blood: An Anishinaabe Tribalography of Identity” in Enduring Critical Poses: The Legacy and Life of Anishinaabe Literature and Letters edited by Gordon Henry Jr. Margaret Noodin, and David Stirrup, (Albany: SUNY Press), pp. 195-226.

2017. Chapter. “’Making ourselves whole with words’: A Short History of White Earth Anishinaabeg Tribal Citizenship Criteria” (5000 words) in Blood Quantum and the Future of Native Nations edited by Norbert Hill and Kathleen Ratteree, pp. 189-209.

2017. Article. “’We aren’t like dogs’: Battling Blood Quantum” Special issue of Wasafiri: International Contemporary Writing (32:2) (Summer 2017) “Native North American Literature and Literary Activism” edited by David Stirrup and Kimberly Blaeser.

2016. Chapter. Co-authored with Erik Redix. “Regional and Tribal Histories: The Great Lakes” Oxford Handbook of American Indian History ed. Fredrick Hoxie, Oxford University Press, pp. 173-198.

Book. Those Who Belong: Identity, Family, Blood, and Citizenship Among the White Earth Anishinaabeg. Michigan State University Press as part of the American Indian Studies series edited by Gordon Henry, Jr., and Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2015. Find the book at Michigan State Press.

Book. Co-edited with Niigaanwewidam James Sinclair and Heidi Kiiwetinepinesiik Stark. Centering Anishinaabeg Studies: Understanding the World Through Stories, Introduction: “Bagijige: Making An Offering;” chapter “‘A Philosophy for Living’ Ignatia Broker and Constitutional Reform among the White Earth Anishinaabe.” Michigan State University Press as part of the American Indian Studies series edited by Gordon Henry, Jr., and Winnipeg: University of Manitoba Press, 2013. Find the book at Michigan State Press.

Essay. “Race, War, and the March of Time: The Vanishing American” Seeing Red: American Indians and the Cinema edited by LeAnne Howe, Denise Cummings, and Harvey Markowitz. Michigan State University Press, 2013.

Chapter. “Relative Identities: Connecting Chance and Continuance in Love Medicine” in Critical Insights: Louise Erdrich edited by P. Jane Hafen. EBSCO Publishing, Salem Press, 2013.

Book. Co-authored with Gerald Vizenor. Introduction by David Wilkins. The White Earth Nation: Ratification of a Native Democratic Constitution, chapter “A Citizen’s Guide to the White Earth Constitution: Highlights and Reflections.” University of Nebraska Press, 2012. Find the book at University of Nebraska Press.

Chapter. “Postindian Survivance: Gerald Vizenor and Kimberly Blaeser ” in Gerald Vizenor: Texts and Contexts edited by Deborah Madsen and A. Robert Lee (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press), 2011, pp. 186-207. Download the chapter.

Article. "An Anishinaabe Tribalography: Investigating and Interweaving Conceptions of Identity During the 1910s on the White Earth Reservation" American Indian Quarterly, 33:3 (Summer 2009) pp. 295-324. Download the article.

Article. “Wild Rice: The Minnesota Legislature, a Distinctive Crop, GMOs, and Ojibwe Perspectives." Co-authored with Rachel Durkee Walker, Hamline Law Review, 32.2 (Spring 2009) pp. 499-527.