Cherokee Elizabeth Bird Making Difference at Norte Dame
SOUTH BEND, INDIANA – Elizabeth Bird, a tribal citizen of the Keetoowah Cherokee Band of Cherokee Indians, is serving as a member of the Norte Dame Alumni Association board of directors.
Bird is the Self-Governance Coordinator for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma.
Notre Dame is one of the few universities to regularly rank in the top 25 in the U.S. News & World Report survey of America’s best colleges and the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings of the best overall athletics programs. Notre Dame boasts a graduation rate of 96 percent of its students.
“Having employees serve on boards such as these gives us national exposure. It is very important to the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma that people have the opportunity to learn about our tribe, history, culture and traditions. We have a very rich history and Elizabeth Bird does a great job promoting the Keetoowah Cherokee people in the lives of the people she comes in contact with,” said Chief George Wickliffe.
“We are so blessed to have Elizabeth serve on our Board of Directors, not only because she provides an important voice for our Native American alumni, but also for her unwavering commitment to and love for the University. Her years of work improving the lives of young people and on behalf of her tribe serve as an inspiration to her fellow Board members and all of us on staff at the Alumni Association. We could not ask for a better representative of Notre Dame’s core values,” said Dolly Duffy ’84, executive director, Notre Dame Alumni Association.
Some of the first year projects Bird has accomplished include: implementing a new Norte Dame Alumni Association structure for diversity, reconnecting the diversity board with Pokagon Band of Potawatomi, and developing a national resource for Notre Dame clubs by creating a calendar of recurring cultural events and a list of places with Native significance for each of the 18 Norte Dame Alumni Association regions.
Bird realized at an early age she wanted to go to college and graduate with a degree. She attained these goals and became the first female student from Tahlequah, Oklahoma not only to attend but to also graduate from the University of Notre Dame. She is also the first Keetoowah Cherokee to attend this prestigious university.
While attending Norte Dame, she served as president of the Native American Student Association of Notre Dame for two years. The association is a student organization devoted to promoting the awareness of the Native American presence and native issues on the Notre Dame campus, as well as providing a supportive environment for Native American students at the university.
Ms. Bird graduated as one of four Native Americans in a graduating class of 1,800 students. She was awarded the 1991 J. Sinnot Meyers Award for Outstanding Community Service, American Studies Department, College of Arts and Letters. She was also named a 1991 Outstanding Student of Notre Dame.
Her name is part of a permanent display naming the Outstanding Students at the LaFortune Student Center on the Notre Dame campus. She was also named the recipient of the 2001 William D. Reynolds Award for Outstanding Work with Youth, awarded by the Notre Dame Alumni Association.
She graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in American Studies from Notre Dame and later continued her education by getting a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Christian Studies from Oklahoma Baptist University and a Master’s of Divinity degree from Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Additional to her new responsibilities on the Norte Dame Alumni Association board of directors, Bird volunteers with the Tahlequah Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Tahlequah Citizen Advisory Committee, the Foundation for a Fit Future for Tahlequah and Elm Tree Baptist Church.