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Vance Blackfox to be Finlandia University’s 2022 Commencement Keynote Speaker

Blackfox

HANCOCK — Finlandia University is pleased to announce that Vance Blackfox, director of Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will be the 2022 Commencement Keynote Speaker on May 1 at 1:30 p.m.

“We are privileged to welcome Vance to Finlandia and our Copper Country communities. I believe his life and message will speak meaningfully to our graduates and their families and friends, to all of us,” President Philip Johnson said. “We are especially grateful that Vance is spending several days on campus facilitating conversations and exercises that help us explore more deeply our relationship with our indigenous neighbors.”

On Saturday, April 30, at the Finnish American Heritage Center, Blackfox will lead an event called The Blanket Exercise, an experiential learning tool that leads a group of participants through more than 500 years of Indigenous history, highlighting the relationship between the tribal nations and the European explorers, colonial settlers, and U.S. federal and state governments. The event is free, open to the public and honest in nature. Those interested in attending the event are asked to use the registration link.

Vance Blackfox, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, serves the churchwide organization of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) as the Director of Indigenous Ministries and Tribal Relations. An alumnus of Texas Lutheran University (TLU) and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC), Vance has previously served the ELCA in multiple capacities, from being elected and serving as National President of the Lutheran Youth Organization during his TLU days, to later working as a diversity and cultural education professional for the Women of the ELCA, Augsburg Fortress Publishers, California Lutheran University, ELCA Youth Gathering, and LSTC’s Youth in Mission. In addition to serving numerous ELCA and ecumenical teams and committees throughout the years, he is at present the Indigenous Theologian and Coordinating Team Member for the ELCA’s Theological Round Table, as well as creator and producer of the Vine Deloria Jr. Theological Symposium hosted at LSTC.

Vance is also the founder and director of Other+Wise (www.otherwise.red), a multi-site cultural education and cultural immersion program for youth and student groups from across the country, and also previously served as the Director of Communications at the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition, as the Director of Communications for Native Americans in Philanthropy, and has held executive director positions at the Haskell Foundation, which supports Haskell Indian Nations University, and the Oaks Indian Mission. Vance teaches about many things Indigenous as founder and primary of Blackfox Institute (www.blackfoxinstitute.com), he has served as the Guest Curator of the Indian Museum at the University of Texas at San Antonio Institute of Texan Cultures, and presently serves as the Indigenous Theologian for the Faith-Based Initiative for the City of San Antonio, where he currently resides.

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