The Minnesota

​Territorial Pioneers

Established May 11, 1897 - Incorporated 1924

2008 Minnesotan of the Year

Minnesotan of the Year

Heid, Lise, and Louise Erdrich


Heid, Lise and Louise grew up with four other siblings in Wahpeton ND, where their parents were teachers at the Indian boarding school.  All three have gone on to award-winning careers as writers. Their father's German and mother's French and Ojibwe heritage reflect the blending of cultures so present in the history of the State of Minnesota. Their writings truly reflect the sometimes dismal history of the white American culture's failure to understand or respect American Indian culture and heritage. The threesome hosts an annual writer's conference on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in northern North Dakota.


All American Indians who lived in the boundaries of the Minnesota Territory before 1858 are considered Territorial Pioneers, and the sisters would be eligible for membership.  We are honored to present the 2008 Minnesotan of the Year award to the Erdrich sisters of Minnesota and North Dakota. 


Heid Erdrich graduated from Dartmouth College.  She was on staff in the English department of  St. Thomas University, St. Paul for 10 years.  In 2007, she received a Bush Leadership Fellowship that has allowed her to devote her full attention to the study of Ojibwe writers and writing.  An associate poet laureate of North Dakota, her collections of poems and other literary works have garnered praise and awards.


Lise Erdrich is not only an award-winning writer who specializes in children's books, but also serves as school health officer at the Circle of Nations School in Wahpeton. She received her BA in English from the University of North Dakota and her MS in health sciences at Minnesota State University.    


Louise Erdrich is widely acclaimed as one of the most significant Native American writers of our time. She received her BA from Dartmouth and an MA from Johns Hopkins University.   Along with her award-winning collections of poems and short stories for both adults and children, she has produced a number of critically acclaimed novels. Prior to their divorce, Louise collaborated on a series of novels with her husband Michael Dorris. She owns and operates Birchbark Books in Minneapolis.


Previous Award Recipients

Louise Erdrich

Lise Erdrich

Heid Erdrich