Carol Susan Gunderson, 74, formerly of Osseo and Eau Claire, Wis., died in Tucson, Ariz., Tuesday, June 4, 2019, under the care of Casa de la Luz Hospice, after an eight year struggle from pulmonary fibrosis related to Sjogren’s Syndrome.
Carol was born in Green Bay, Wis., Dec. 23, 1944, the daughter of the late Thomas and Zelda (Johnson) Schuyler. Carol grew up in Green Bay and on the Oneida reservation, graduating from Seymour High School in 1963.
She married Harvey S. Gunderson of Osseo, Wis., in Oneida, Wis., Aug. 24, 1967.
Carol is survived by her husband, Harvey; two sisters, Claudette Schuyler of Milwaukee and Cathlyn Schuyler-Smith of Green Bay; numerous special nieces and nephews; godmother Carole Madl of DePere; and her special “Native daughters,” Barb Miller of Menomonie and Patricia Marroquin Norby of Osseo and New York City, and their families. She was preceded in death by her parents; and three brothers, Gene, Thomas Jr. and Kenneth.
Additionally, Carol’s life benefited from many special women friends and their families, especially Donna Prilepp, Meg Heaton, Nancy Kapszukiewicz, Mary Carlson, Kathy Zielanis, Karen Ressel, Dianne Richardson, Bea Bigony, Barb Munson, Debbie Maben, Linda Gunderson, Nicole Ray, Rose Martin and others.
Carol loved music. She enjoyed singing and dancing, whether teaching dancing as a teenager, attending a pow wow, being asked to travel from Wisconsin to Utah, to sing “Amazing Grace” in her Oneida language at a funeral, dancing the Charleston while in her 40s with the Eau Claire Women’s Chorus, attending a concert of Pink Martini at the Fox Theater in Tucson, being a groupie following the Berra MacNeils tour from city to city across Canada, or watching singing and dancing on TV.
Carol loved travel, especially to Norway, Switzerland, Canadian Rockies and Nova Scotia. Carol loved stylish clothing, attending art fairs, collecting jewelry and American Indian art, doing bead-work, collecting imagery of birds, chickens, feathers, wolves (being a member of the Wolf Clan of the Oneida Nation). She especially enjoyed time with her “puppies.”
Carol loved to laugh, had a beautiful smile and a huge heart, and made everyone feel comfortable. People depended on her. She has in death been described as “the strongest person I ever knew,” as having “a certain elegance,” “grace-elegance-diplomacy,” “a rare and special human spirit.”
Working from the day she graduated high school until she obtained her degree, Carol was a first-generation college graduate who entered college later in life. She completed a bachelor’s degree at age 34 in 1978, graduating in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, where she also was one of the first students to complete the newly developed minor in American Indian Studies. She earned a master’s degree in management from Webster University in St. Louis, in 1979.
Carol, a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and Co-founder of Religious Americans Against “Indian” Nicknames & Logos (RAAINL), in 2011, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Indian Education Association (WIEA) recognizing her contributions to American Indian education and education civil rights in working for elimination of race-based “Indian” nicknames, logos and mascots.
Carol was involved with American Indian education and concerns since her days in high school and continuing through her post-retirement years. After Carol graduated from Seymour High School, while living on the Oneida Reservation, Oneida Tribal Chair Irene Moore asked Carol to apply for the newly established Miss North American Indian competition, developed by the Foundation of North American Indian Culture. Selected as “Miss North American Indian 1965”, Carol gave presentations across the U.S., including the U.S. Department of the Interior, focusing on the importance of education for American Indian youth and the importance of educating non-Native people about American Indians.
At a naming-ceremony after Carol received the title, the Oneida Nation gave Carol an Oneida name Ga-luh-yu-ha-wi, which means Heavenly-Minded or Sky-Minded.
After completing her graduate degree, Carol taught human resource development and human resource management part-time in the Department of Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Stout. In 1988, she joined the Department of Social Sciences full-time at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, where she taught sociology and race and ethnicity courses. Carol received the Outstanding Faculty Award in 1991, 1995 and 1997, awarded to only one person annually by the UW-Stout Office of Multicultural Affairs, to recognize a student-nominated faculty member who had made significant contributions to minority students’ educational and personal experiences.
Carol retired from the University of Wisconsin-Stout in 2000, as Senior Lecturer Emerita of Social Sciences in recognition of her years of service teaching sociology including the sociology of race and ethnicity.
When Carol retired from UW-Stout, she continued working to improve the educational environment for American Indian students by working for elimination of race-based “Indian” athletic nicknames, logos and mascots in high schools and colleges. From 2002 to 2011 before becoming ill, she and her husband, Harvey, worked as a team almost full time as civil rights advocates in this cause. Co-founders of an educational and civil rights organization named Religious Americans Against “Indian” Nicknames & Logos (RAAINL), they had a positive impact in educating high schools and colleges and stimulating such change at the local, state and national level.
Dr. C. Richard King, who has written more books about the mascot issue than any other scholar, wrote in 2010 that, “I have benefited over the years leading up to this book from the guidance, counsel, and inspiration of many leaders and scholars in the movement against the use of Indianness in sport.” King next listed 14 such leaders and scholars, including Carol and her husband, in that group.
Upon receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Wisconsin Indian Education Association in 2011, Carol said, “When I retired from UW-Stout 11 years ago, I thought my days as an educator were over. However, they simply changed from a classroom environment to a very different environment working in educational civil rights, working to end the discrimination inherent in race-based “Indian” athletic identities used by public schools and universities.”
Setting forth a challenge to everyone for the future, Carol in her acceptance speech said, “We must succeed in creating a stereotype-free educational environment to benefit not only students of today but also the next seven generations of students. That is a legacy that we must all work toward.”
Carol donated her body to science, so cremains will be buried later in a private ceremony.
A memorial has been established to honor Carol’s legacy and provide an opportunity to continue to impact American Indian students at University of Wisconsin Stout. Contributions can be directed to the “Carol S. Gunderson Memorial American Indian Scholarship & Assistance Fund” at the Stout University Foundation online (https://Foundation.uwstout.edu/pages/givings) or by check payable to the Stout University Foundation. Mail to the Stout University Foundation, UW-Stout, P.O. Box 790, Menomonie, WI 54751. (If making a memorial gift online, please select “other” in the designation field, then add “In Memory of Carol S. Gunderson” in the other field.)