Denise Sweet

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Denise Sweet, Anishinnaabe poet


Denise Sweet is an Anishinaabe poet [White Earth] and a Professor of Humanistic Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. She teaches creative writing, literature and mythology, as well as a travel seminar involving fieldwork among the Mayan peoples of the Yucatan Peninsula and Guatemala. She has presented nearly 100 public readings around the United States, in Canada, Mexico and Guatemala, and has served as poet-in-residence in public and tribal schools as well as at Grand Marais Art Colony in northern Minnesota and at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. She is also part of the staff of artists and writers at the Split Rock Arts program in Duluth, MN. Besides the awards and publications listed below, her work has been commissioned by the Great Lakes Inter-tribal Council, and has appeared in museum art exhibits as part of multimedia presentations of Native American creative expression.

Denise is currently the Chair for the American Indian Studies Program at UW-Green Bay and was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor in 1998. She has been an Adjunct Instructor at the College of the Menominee Nation and is currently an Adjunct Instructor at Mount Senario College. She is the director of Who We Are, What Is Ours: Young Writer's Workshop, UW-Green Bay's first self-sponsored pre-college program for students of color.

Denise has been a consultant-grantwriter for the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin and was the Coordinator of Conferences & Institutes from 1985 to 1989 at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She is also a speaker on topics such as women's wellness, eating disorders among native women, and substance abuse prevention. She has delivered the keynote address at the Wisconsin Academy of Poets, the Multi-Ethnic Youth Leadership Conference and the Texas State University Annual Native American Literary Symposium, among others. Her workshop and conference presentations include the First Annual Returning the Gift Native Writer's Festival, the National Native Women's Wellness Conference, the Wisconsin Indian Education Conference and the University of Wisconsin System Colloquium on Race and Ethnicity. She is also the owner of Sweet Associates, a communication consultant group.

She is working on a third collection of poems entitled As Those With Faith Will Do. Denise is the mother of two fine Anishinaabe sons, Damon and Vaughn.

During June, 1998, Denise participated in the Protect The Earth Journey, walking from the Red Cliff Chippewa Reservation on Lake Superior to the State Capitol in Madison to garner support for a constitutional amendment to protect air, water, and other forms of common property. This Common Property proposal is also being called the "Seventh Generation Amendment." A special Sesquicentennial Legislative Session will be requested to endorse the proposal. They are walking into towns, villages, reservations and settlements for the next thirty days to gather information, opinions and supportfor the 7th Generation Amendment. She thinks the citizens of Wisconsin have plenty to say about the influx of mining interests into our state and the heavy lobbying that goes on in the state capitol which has resulted in favorable, pro-mining legislation in the past.

Denise was named the Wisconsin Poet Laureate for 2004-08.


Denise received the Diane Decorah Award for Poetry in 1995 from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas for her book of poems, Songs for Discharming. Songs for Discharming was also awarded the 1998 Posner Award for Poetry from the Wisconsin Council of Writers. She placed 2nd in the Santa Fe Indian Market Poetry Competition in 1995 with the poem Veteran's Dance.

Denise was named Woman of the Year in 1985 by the Positive Indian Development Center and the Wisconsin Women's Council. In 1995 she was awarded the Outstanding Woman of Color by the University of Wisconsin system, recognizing her achievements as a Native American Professor. In 1998 Denise is sponsored by the U.S. Embassy as one of five U.S. Native authors they send to the 1st World Congress of Indigenous Literatures of the Americas in Guatemala City, July 27 through August 1st.

Writing available online

Song for Discharming

Right of Way

Books by Denise Sweet

Songs for Discharming, Greenfield Review Press.

Days of Obsidian, Days of Grace, with Adrian Louis, Al Hunter,and Jim Northrup, 1994, Poetry Harbor Press

Know By Heart, 1992.


Nitaawichige: Selected Poetry and Prose by Four Anishinaabe Writers, with Jim Northrup, Marcie Rendon &, Linda Legarde Grover, Poetry Harbor.

Stories Migrating Home: Anishnaabe Prose, Kimberly Blaeser (Editor), Loonfeather Press: Wisconsin

Reinventing the Enemy's Language: Contemporary Native Women's Writing of North America, Joy Harjo and Gloria Bird (Editors), W.W. Norton.

Returning the Gift: Poetry and Prose from the First North American Native Writers' Festival, (Sun Tracks Books,No 29) University of Arizona Press.

Women Brave in the Face of Danger: Photographs of and Writings by Latin and North American Women, Margaret Randall, Crossing Press.

See Also

Governor Doyle Appoints Denise Sweet Poet Laureate of Wisconsin

Denise Sweet becomes Wisconsin's poet laureate

Denise Sweet will be a wonderful Poet Laureate from The Middlewesterner

Denise Sweet Wisconsin Poet Laureate

Outstanding Women of Color In Education Awards, Univ. Wisconsin System

Denise's Faculty page


This page is part of the Storytellers: Native American Authors Online project.