Spring 2018

Cultural bridges

Cover of a book from a 1972 exhibit Ron Libertus co-curated

A beloved and respected scholar of Ojibwe history and culture, American and American Indian art, and Russian history and language, Ron Libertus, ’64 B.A., has spent his life advancing the cause of Native Americans through local, regional, and national organizations. 

Libertus, who grew up on the Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota, taught in the American Indian Studies Department in the U’s College of Liberal Arts (CLA) for 16 years. He also served as liaison to Minnesota’s tribal nations for the Department of Natural Resources, a curator of American Indian art for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and a sought-after lecturer and advisor to arts, academic, and nonprofit organizations nationwide. In 2000, the University awarded Libertus with an honorary degree. 

Now retired, Libertus and his wife, Judy, have established three funds in the American Indian Studies Department. The latest supports students who are transferring from a tribal college or university to CLA. “The U is such a fine institution that we want to help more Native Americans be part of it,” he says. 

Ron Libertus passed away April 24, 2018, after Legacy had gone to press. Our condolences to his family and all who knew him. In his obituary, he requested that in lieu of flowers, memorials be made to the Libertus-Rice Transfer Student Recruitment Fund at the University of Minnesota Foundation.