May 1, 2024

North Dakota Poet Laureate to receive honorary doctorate


Former NDSU professor and current North Dakota Poet Laureate Denise K. Lajimodiere will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 10 a.m. commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 11 at the Fargodome.

“This honor was totally unexpected,” said Lajimodiere. “I am very much humbled. As a teacher at heart, I thoroughly enjoyed my years at NDSU working as an educational leadership professor. Thank you for this memorable honor.”

Lajimodiere, an enrolled Citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in Belcourt, North Dakota, has been involved in education for 44 years as an elementary school teacher, principal and professor. She was an NDSU associate professor in the School of Education’s education leadership program. 

“In honoring Denise Lajimodiere, an enrolled Citizen of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, university professor, renowned poet and researcher, and the State of North Dakota’s Poet Laureate with an honorary doctorate, we recognize her achievements, while acknowledging the enduring legacy and wisdom of Indigenous cultures,” said NDSU Provost David Bertolini. “She has profoundly impacted NDSU, the state of North Dakota, and the region reminding us of the invaluable contributions Indigenous women make to society and academia.”

Lajimodiere helped create the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition and has written a children’s book and books of poetry. Her works of poetry are titled, “Dragonfly Dance,” “Thunderbird,” “Bitter Tears” and “His Feathers Were Chains.” Her children’s book, “Josie Dances,” is an Ojibwe girl’s coming of age story about a dream to participate in a local powwow. Lajimodiere also has written the academic book, “Stringing Rosaries: The History, The Unforgivable, The Healing of Northern Plains Boarding School Survivors.” 

Lajimodiere is a traditional Jingle Dress dancer and Ojibwe Birch Bark Biting artist. She lives in a cozy cottage near the lake on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation.

Lajimodiere earned bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks.  

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