Faculty and Staff
Samantha Majhor (Dakota and Assiniboine) is an Assistant Professor of English specializing in Native American Literature at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She earned her B.A. degrees in English and Sociology from the University of Minnesota Duluth, M.A. in English from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, and PhD in English from the University of Minnesota. She serves as a faculty mentor for MU’s Indigeneity Lab, developing the Indian Boarding School History project that works to introduce and contextualize the Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions records held in Marquette’s special collections and consulting on the cultural, spiritual, and historical considerations of the Wild Rice Revitalization project.
Bryan Rindfleisch is an associate professor of history, with specialization in early American and Native American history at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He received his B.A. in both American Indian Studies and History at UW-Eau Claire and his Ph.D. in History at the University of Oklahoma. He is the author of two books, George Galphin’s Intimate Empire (2019) and Brothers of Coweta (2021). His projects with the Indigeneity Lab are an on-going digital mapping project — “Indigenizing Milwaukee” — and a walking and biking tour of Indigenous space and place of downtown Milwaukee, in collaboration with Historic Milwaukee Inc.
Dr. Michael Schläppi is a professor of Biological Sciences at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with a specialization in Plant Molecular Biology and Genetics. He received his undergraduate diploma in molecular biology at the University of Basel, Switzerland, and his Ph.D. in plant molecular biology at the Friedrich Miescher-Institute/Univ. of Basel, Switzerland. His name is on 42 scientific publications and two book chapters. His main project with the Indigeneity Lab is an initiative to (hopefully) reintroduce Manoomin, wild rice, in the Menomonee River Valley in the heart of Milwaukee. Several undergraduate students worked to determine the viability and sustainability of Northern wild rice, while others developed a more rooted understanding of the cultural, historical, political, and spiritual importance of wild rice to Wisconsin tribal nations.
Jacqueline Fontaine Schram (Ojibway, Sagkeeng First Nation) is currently working on her dissertation in the Educational Policy and Leadership (EDPL) program at Marquette University focusing on Indigenous college alumni oral histories, Jacqueline also serves the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the Office of Public Affairs full time as the Director of Public Affairs and Special Assistant for Native American Affairs. Part of her role at Marquette is to support the educational success of Indigenous students. Jacqueline is also the co-advisor of the Native American Student Association and helps staff the Indigeneity Lab – an interdisciplinary research hub that supports undergraduate research on topics that have significant implications for increased awareness and understanding of Indigenous history and culture in Milwaukee. In the Milwaukee Indian community, Jacqueline has devoted longtime volunteer service to Indian Summer Festivals (2006-2013), Spotted Eagle, Inc. (2011-2017), Forest County Potawatomi Foundation Advisory Board (2015-2018), and the Milwaukee Indian Education Committee (2013-Present).
Native American Mission and Boarding School Research
Madison Black is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Writing Intensive English at Marquette University. Her Lab research is focused on the Native American Mission & Boarding School Archives. Beyond the Indigeneity Lab, Madison is a Ronald. E. McNair Scholar, member of the Native American Student Association (NASA), and serves on the Counseling Center Advisory Board. Madison is passionate about mental health in the Native American community and aspires to become a clinical psychologist.
Ayodele (Ayo) Ibiyemi is a graduate student in the department of English at Marquette University. His work with the Indigeneity Lab will include a public-facing exhibition and continued research around Native American Mission and Boarding Schools. He worked as a journalist and in the Not-for-Profit sector in Nigeria before coming to the United States of America. He is currently researching the textual interactions and contestations between Africans and the African Diaspora in the United States of America.
Faith Hall is a sophomore majoring in Speech Pathology at Marquette University. Her lab research is focused on the Native American Boarding School Project, directed by Samantha Majhor. Faith is helping gather Marquette’s Native Archives in order to exhibit them on the developing website, meant to showcase these collections to the general public. She helps in the work of translating unintelligible letters exchanged between boarding school members regarding funding and the condition of students. She is passionate to be part of this project, partly due to not knowing her own family history. She wishes to remedy this, through efforts of allowing Native Americans to discover their own history and establish a proud sense of self-identity.
Indigenous Wild Rice Project
Danielle Barrett is a senior majoring Psychology and Biological Sciences at Marquette University. Danielle is woking with the Lab on the Wild Rice Project under the direction of Dr. Michael Schlappi. Last summer, she researched the cultural and historical importance of Wild Rice to gain an understanding and respect for the grain. With the knowledge she gained last summer, she will be working on the science portion of this project–focused on genotyping the rice and attempting to grow the rice in a garden outside the lab. All results have been promising thus far! Additionally, she is the President of the Native American Student Association (NASA), a member of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., the Emerging Scholars Program, and recreational volleyball.
I joined the Marquette University Indigeneity lab in the summer of 2023. The experience has allowed me to see the bigger picture of the research, which is to bring wild rice back to the Milwaukee area and better the environment. The excitement of the Indigeneity Lab’s Wild Rice Initiative stems from building a deeper cultural understanding and the education around plant biology. I also enjoyed working with Dr. Schram, Dr. Schlappi and the undergradate/graduate students in the lab. They helped motivate me to want to do even more. I am looking forward to finishing school and the endless possibilities that comes with the exposure to this summer experience.
Indigenizing Milwaukee Mapping Project
My name is Mairin Couch, and I am a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University, studying a double major in Sociology and Psychology. I am passionate about bettering and educating the communities around me and that I am a part of. As a result of this passion, I have been privileged enough to work with various like-minded academics at Marquette. In addition to working on social issues in Public Affairs, and conducting research at the Center for Peacemaking, I was able to join the Indigeneity Lab this past summer as a part of our Digital Mapping Project. I was beyond excited at the opportunity to educate myself on Milwaukee’s Indigenous histories and share that with my community and greater Milwaukee. This work and consequent relationships have been an incredibly rich professional, educational, and personal experience for me.
Past Cohort Members
We wish to acknowledge and give thanks to the inaugural Indigeneity Lab cohort whose research, writing, and initiative, have allowed for its continual growth:
Mission and Boarding School Research:
- Bailey Birenbaum
- Rebecca DeBoer
- Julia Solberg
Indigenize Milwaukee Mapping Project:
- Cameron Fronczak
- Claire Camblin
Wild Rice Initiative:
- Will Egan Waukau
- Sir Lawrence Tender
- Alex Liberato
- Miriam Schwabe