Gerard A. Baker, a full-blood member of the Mandan-Hidatsa Tribe of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in Mandaree, N.D., will be the 2011 Elder-in-Residence for the Native American Studies Program at West Virginia University.

Many recognize Baker from his appearance in a number of documentaries, including Ken Burns’ award-winning 2010 PBS series, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” and “Lewis and Clark: the Journey of the Corps of Discovery.”

Baker will be in Morgantown from April 10-15, providing guest lectures to classes, participating in a luncheon colloquium in the College of Human Resources and Education, attending a student meet-and-greet in the Division of Forestry and presenting a public lecture. The lecture is set for Tuesday (April 12) at 5 p.m. in Room G15 of the Life Sciences Building on the downtown campus. A reception in his honor will begin at 4:30 p.m. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

“Thanks to support from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and others, this year’s elder-in-residence activities include a one-day symposium that’s an exciting regional outreach program for cultural resource management and public history professionals,” said Bonnie Brown, coordinator of the Native American Studies Program.

Baker will also take part in the symposium titled “Telling the Stories: American Indian Interpretation in the Trans-Allegheny Region” on April 13 at the Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex auditorium in Moundsville, W.Va. The other presenters and their discussion topics for the symposium will be:

  • John Boback, director of education at Southwest Pennsylvania’s Meadowcroft Rockshelter and Historic Village – “Interpreting the Domestic Side of American Indian Daily Life as a Corrective to the Warlike Brute Stereotype.”
  • Joe Candillo, (enrolled member, Pascua Yaqui Tribe of Arizona) cultural educator, artist and former interpretive National Park ranger – “Leaving the Indian Out: The Absence of Native Americans as Primary Educators at Native American-themed State Historic and Sacred Sites throughout the Eastern United States.”
  • Marti Chaatsmith, (Comanche Nation Citizen) program director, The Ohio State University-Newark Earthworks Program – “The Newark Earthworks: Stakeholders, Interpretation, and Public History.”
  • Travis Henline, site manager for West Virginia’s Independence Hall and former coordinator of Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s American Indian Initiative – “A New Face at a Mythic Place: The American Indian Initiative at Colonial Williamsburg.”
  • Mary Ellen Snyder, chief of Visitor Services and Interpretation at Fort Necessity National Battlefield and Friendship Hill National Historical Site – “The Odawa Warriors’ Journey to Fort Necessity: Collaboration and Exhibit Development with the Little Traverse Bay Band of the Odawa.”

There is no fee to attend the Moundsville symposium, but registration is required.

To register for the symposium, please visit:

At 2 p.m. the auditorium will open to the public for Baker’s keynote address.

Baker worked for the National Park Service for 31 of his 34 years with the federal government. He spent a three-year stint with the United States Forest Service serving as an assistant district ranger. With the National Park Service, he worked as superintendent of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail from 2000 to 2004. In that position, he managed the trails across 19 states and the traveling exhibit “Corps of Discovery II: 200 Years to the Future.”

Baker was also the superintendent of Mount Rushmore National Memorial from 2004 until his retirement in 2010. There, he managed more than 1,200 acres of land that attract almost three million visitors annually. For three months, from April to July 2010, he also served as the assistant director for American Indian Relations of the National Park Service in Washington, D.C.

Now retired, he lives in the Black Hills of North Dakota with his wife, Mary Kay. He now has more time to focus on his hobbies, which include researching Northern Plains trade, American Indian history, studying the oral history of the Northern Plains and traditional crafts such as brain tanning.

The following have generously helped sponsor the 2011 Elder-in-Residence activities: WVU’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences, the Carolyn Reyer Endowment for Native American Studies, the WVU Division of Forestry-Recreation, Parks, and Tourism Resources Program, the WVU Department of History Resource Management Program”:, the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, Fort Necessity National Battlefield, and the WVU College of Human Resources and Education-Office for Diversity and Global Initiatives.

For more information, contact Bonnie M. Brown, coordinator of the Native American Studies Program, at (304) 293-4626 or



CONTACT: Rebecca Herod, Marketing and Communications Coordinator
304-293-7405, ext. 5251,

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.