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Cultural Heritage Panel II

Gregory Gagnon (Moderator) is an associate professor of Indian Studies at UND. He was a faculty member and academic vice president at Oglala Lakota College. Currently, Greg teaches Reservation Government and Politics, Federal Indian Law and Policy, North American Indians, Contemporary American Indian Issues, History of the Sioux, and Introduction to Indian Studies. Greg was awarded the UND Foundation Thomas J. Clifford Faculty Achievement Award for Outstanding Faculty Development and Service.

Virgil Benoit is a professor of French in the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of North Dakota. As part of his work as an educator, Virgil has founded two not-for-profit organizations devoted to heritage education in the Midwest.

Curtis Olafsonwho currently serves in the North Dakota Senate, is the president of the Icelandic Communities Association, the sponsoring organization of the Deuce of August Icelandic Celebration held annually in Mountain.  Curtis graduated from NDSU with a B.S. degree in Animal Science and is in business with his brothers. He is Co-Chairman of the Mountain Community Center Capital Campaign Committee and President of the Thingvalla Cemetery Association and of Logberg Heimskringla USA, Inc. Curtis was born and raised near   Mountain, N.D.

Emily Bonilla Gonzalez is the North Dakota National Resources Conservation Services (NRCS) Hispanic Emphasis Program Manager. Emily works to recruit more Hispanics for NRCS, helps to identify and overcome Hispanic barriers, and educates the workforce on diversity issues and Hispanic culture. ND NRCS has been able to increase and maintain a large percentage of Hispanics to carry out the mission of “Helping People help the Land.” Emily has a bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Science from the University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez Campus. Emily was born and raised in Puerto Rico.

Thomas Davis is a community spiritual leader and has been active in his culture with the Turtle Mountain Pembina Band. He learned about his culture and language from his grandmothers and has been a traditional man all his life. Tom has been involved in tribal planning and economic development for his people over 20 years. He is also a traditional drum maker and sun-dancer.