Justic Anne McKeig
Minnesota Supreme Court Justice
The Honorable Anne McKeig was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 28, 2016. A descendant of the White Earth Nation, she is the first female Native American to sit on any state supreme court.
Prior to her appointment to the Supreme Court, she was appointed to the bench as a District Court Judge in 2008. Justice McKeig served as Presiding Judge in Family Court in the Fourth Judicial District in Hennepin County. Before that she was a former Assistant Hennepin County attorney, where she worked for over 16 years handling child protection cases and adoption matters with a specialty in cases that fall under the provisions of the Indian Child Welfare Act. Justice McKeig co authored law school curriculum entitled Child Abuse and the Law, which she taught at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, and Domestic Violence and the Law, which she taught at St. Thomas School of Law.
Justice McKeig has spoken at numerous national conferences and conventions regarding child protection, domestic violence, family law, diversity & inclusion, working with tribal communities, as well as a multitude of other topics. Justice McKeig is a member of the Speakers Bureau for the Zero Abuse Project, board member of Minnesota Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (“PROOF”), Division of Indian Work, the Infinity Project, a trustee for St. Catherine University, and a member of the State/Tribal Court forum. She is also on several national committees addressing domestic violence, child abuse, Native American issues, and diversity.
Anne hails from Northern Minnesota (Federal Dam), where she grew up on the Leech Lake reservation. She is a proud mother of five children, and a Johnny Cash super fan.
Muisician, Educator, Native Nations Builder
Elizabeth "Lyz" Jaakola is an enrolled Tribal member of the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Cloquet, MN. She is a musician, educator, and Native Nation Rebuilder. Lyz teaches Music, American Indian studies, and Media Production at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College. As a musician, Lyz performs and composes across styles and genres, including traditional women's hand drum circles, blues, jazz, and opera. Her work as an artist and storyteller honors and preserves Anishinaabe cultural tradition through her collaborations, performances, and compositions. She has served locally through partnerships with Arrowhead Chorale, Echoes of Peace Choir, KBEM jazz radio, and with programs across many districts in Minnesota with an international musical relationship with Finland, including performances with YLE, WSOY, and a FINtango residency.
Her contributions as an artist and educator to her local community have earned her recognition by the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council George Morrison Artist Award, AICF Faculty of the Year Award, Ordway's Sally Award for Arts Educators, and the First People's Fund Community Spirit Award. Lyz's honors also include a 2009 Native American Music Award, the 2012 First Peoples’ Fund Community Spirit Award, Classical MPR’s Class Notes Artist, and the 2018 AICF Educator of the Year, in addition to the honor of performing at the Kennedy Center with "We The Peoples Before."
Lyz is a mother of three wonderful children and serves as a city council member for Cloquet City Council, representing Ward 5. Lyz will be the first to say that any honors and recognition belong to our ancestors for all they have endured and retained so that we may be Anishinaabe.
Sandy White Hawk
Sandra White Hawk is a Sicangu Lakota adoptee from the Rosebud Reservation, South Dakota. She is the founder and Director of First Nations Repatriation Institute.
First Nations Repatriation Institute (FNRI) is the first organization of its kind whose goal it is to create a resource for First Nations people impacted by foster care or adoption to return home, reconnect, and reclaim their identity. The Institute also serves as a resource to enhance the knowledge and skills of practitioners who serve First Nations people.
Sandra organizes Truth Healing Reconciliation Community Forums that bring together adoptees/fostered individuals and their families and professionals with the goal to identify post adoption issues and to identify strategies that will prevent removal of First Nations children. She has also initiated an ongoing support group for adoptees and birth relatives in the Twin Cities Area.
Sandra is the Elder in Residence at The Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, Minneapolis, MN and is a consultant/trainer for the Tribal Training Certification Program, University of Duluth, Minnesota.
Sandra has become a spokesperson on the issues of the adoption and the foster care system and how it has impacted First Nations People. She has traveled throughout the United States, Canada, Costa Rica, Australia and Japan, Alaska sharing her inspirational story of healing.
She served as Commissioner for the Maine Wabanaki State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission and served as an Honorary Witness of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Residential Schools in Canada.
She serves on the boards of: Legal Rights Center of Minneapolis and The Association for American Indian Affairs.
She is a subject in three documentaries:
The People’s Protectors - https://www.The pbs.org/show/peoples-protectors/
Dawnland – www.ustanderproject.org
Blood Memory – www.bloodmemorydoc.com
She is a contributing author to:
Outsiders Within: Writing on transracial adoption
Parenting as Adoptees
The Kinship Parenting Toolbox
Author of "A Child of the Indian Race": A Story of Return
Minnesota Historical Society Press
Sandra has received the following awards:
The Gary B. Melton Visiting Professor Award – The Kempe Center and the Haruv Institute, Israel 2023
The Child Welfare Leadership Award, Center for Advanced Studies in Child Welfare, U of MN, 2019
The National Indian Child Welfare Champion for Children Award, 2017
Women in Wellbriety Dana Tiger Award for Creating Change in Nations, 2014
Named one of The INNOVATORS in Color Lines Magazine, 2008
Named one of the 50 Visionaries Who Are Changing Your World Utne Reader, 2008
Named Outstanding Native Women Award from the University of Minnesota 2003
Named one of the “50 Most Influential and Cool People” of Madison, WI, in Madison Magazine, November 2002.