Blackdeer - Mackenzie


Community Healer &

Indigenous CARES Director

“Our social fabric has been frayed by so many societal ills that recognizing and actively working with our fellow BIPOC in our mutual struggle while appreciating our diverse interests, I believe, helps us mend our social fabric (BIPOC AND non-BIPOC). It’s this mending that will allow us to get past band-aid solutions into true societal healing: in unity, with love and justice for all.”

she | her | hers

Barb identifies as Native American, an enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. She lives in Black River Falls with her husband, Drew, and has two adult children, Jo and William. Barb worked for the Ho-Chunk Nation in an executive capacity for over a decade and served in capacities such as the President's Chief of Staff, Public Relations Officer, Executive Directors of Education, Business and Social Services. Previously, she served as the HIRWI board president from 2019-2020 and grew her work with the organization as an HIR Wellness Institute's Community Advocate Resource and Emotional Support (CARES) Director and Community Healer. In this role, Barb mentors and supports our Advocates, supports cross-coordination of care for victims services, works directly with our community partners to advance resources, education, and training for those working with Native people who are victims of crime. As part of her role at HIRWI, she was invited to join the Wisconsin Department of Justice Missing and Murdered Indigenous Task Force on the legislative and policy workgroup. As a Community Healer, she provides direct relative care for our Elder Healing Historical Trauma Book Club, Daughters of Tradition mentorship group, and ongoing support groups that offer cultural teachings to survivors healing and recovery. 

Barb received her bachelor's degree from Winona State University and her master's degree from the University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire. 

Values she lives by.  As a sound believer in imagination and creativity, Barb backs some tried-and-true school initiatives while progressively seeking reasonable ways for professionals, institutions, and systems to address the ever-challenging nature of the social disease and mending the social fabric. Teachings she walks with: (1) learn to respect honest work done well (Nel Noddings), (2) learn to treat yourself, others, and the environment with dignity and respect (Brice Wilkinson), (3) learn to be able to create options for yourself (Linda Sue Warner), and (4) seek to make a fairer, kinder and more compassionate world (Peggy McIntosh).

A career in education and training. Barb has been recognized as a state and national trainer to governmental organizations and school districts for professional development on various topics including, but are not limited to: indigenous/ First Nations/ Native American people and tribal nations; Teachings of the Medicine Wheel (C. Thunder); Mending Broken Hearts; Mothers of Tradition; Survivors of Suicide, Homicide and Genocide (White Bison, Inc.); pan-tribal attitudes; trauma-informed care; historical and intergenerational trauma; community resilience; Act 31; bias, stereotyping, and prejudice; educational assessment and measurement theory; recovering at-risk youth; physical violence, sexual violence, sex trafficking, and special education advocacy.

She was a representative of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association; Barb served as Vice President and represented Wisconsin's Western Region. From 2015 to the present, Barb has been a Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) national trainer and local community group facilitator on topics related to social justice and equity. She served on the State Superintendent's Task Force for Rural Schools, Libraries, and Communities from 2005-2015. She was the first Ho-Chunk tribal member to be elected and serve on the Black River Falls School District Board of Education and appointed a Policy-Resolutions committee member for the Wisconsin Association of School Boards. Barb also served on the State Superintendent's High School Task Force, charged with discovering and providing recommendations for the state's best high school practices. Barb has authored articles and has a chapter entitled, "Integration and Infusion of Curriculum and Learning Environment with Indigenous Culture," in the book, Transforming Our Practices: Indigenous Art, Pedagogies, and Philosophies, available through the National Art Education Association that speaks to bringing her interests in healing and discharging the damage created by historical and other traumas through art expression. 
Recognized leadership. Barb is a past recipient of the Josephine WhiteEagle Fellowship and the two-time recipient of the prestigious John S. and James L. Knight Foundation's Knight Journalist in Residence with University of Wisconsin—Eau Claire. Barb's background allowed her to instruct students in Communication/ Journalism, American Indian Studies, Women's Studies, and the School of Education. There she has assisted many teachers-to-be on multicultural classroom management, teacher and student worldviews, advanced information on the tribes of Wisconsin, and high-risk student success: most recently at UW—Milwaukee School of Art for their Spring 2018 gallery on Natives of Wisconsin.