Ada Deer, EFC 1956, Trailblazer

Dear Encampment Community,

It is with great sadness we report the recent passing of Ada Deer. We invite you to take part in a celebration of her enduring commitment to the Encampment on Sunday October 22. This is an informal gathering for members of the EFC community focusing on Ada’s longtime participation in the summer programs, her vital role in the reestablishment and as board chairperson and stalwart supporter of the organization. We have invited members of her family and friends to join us as we share stories and photos about Ada’s impact on our lives.

Ada’s death (and illustrious life) was covered by publications from the New York Times and Washington Post to The Nation and Indian Country Today.

“Ada was one-of-a-kind,” Wisonsin Governor Tony Evers posted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “We will remember her as a trailblazer, a changemaker, and a champion for Indigenous communities.” He proclaimed August 7th as Ada Deer Day.

Come join us on Zoom and share your stories and photos about this unforgettable and inspiring woman. Sunday October 22, 10:00 AM Pacific/11 AM Mountain/ Noon Central/ 1:00 PM Eastern. A zoom link will be sent the week of the event to those who RSVP using one of these links:

RSVP with email.

RSVP with a Google form


“Ada was one of those extraordinary people who would see something that needed to change in the world and then make it her job and everyone else’s job to see to it that it got changed,” her godson Ben Wikler, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, said. “She took America from the Termination Era to an unprecedented level of tribal sovereignty.”

Speaking about the historic campaign to reinstate the Menominee tribe, she said: 

“Mainly, I want to show people who say nothing can be done in this society that it just isn’t so,” she told The Washington Post in 1973. “You don’t have to collapse just because there’s federal law in your way. Change it!”



Ada, on left, next to former executive director Bill Shannon and EFC alum Eleanor Holmes Norton with the 2013 Encampers (and Evangeline)..





Ada, center, at the 2015 InterGen in Mississippi with staff and Encampers.





Ada, center, 2019 InterGen in Ventura County with Encampers.





Ada and Xejeia Freelon.




Do you have a picture with Ada you would like to share? Use either of the links below and either attach or upload.

You can also share at the Zoom gathering, if you prefer.

RSVP with email.

RSVP with a Google form — you can also update your contact info &/or upload a photo.

Ada’s EFC Alum Story

Ada’s book, Making a Difference