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George A. Gill, a citizen of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, served as director of the Center for Indian Education (formerly known as the Indian Education Center) from 1967 to 1968. Recognized as Arizona State University’s first American Indian to receive a master’s degree in Indian Education, Gill had a twenty-year distinguished career at ASU in the College of Education.
Prior to becoming director, Mr. Gill received a bachelor of science degree from ASU and was president of the University’s Dawa-Chindi Indian Club, the first and largest college Indian club in the country at the time. He served as director of the Indian Education workshop at General Beadle State College in Madison, South Dakota, during the summers of 1965 and 1966. He also taught in the Tempe School District and Phoenix Indian High School. Furthermore, Mr. Gill honorably served in the U.S. Navy during World War II for six years.
Mr. Gill’s legacy of contributing to Indian education spans many decades. He was involved in multiple community outreach and research efforts throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1961, Mr. Gill, along with founding Center director Robert A. Roessel, Jr., and close ally Professor Bruce Meador, established the Journal of American Indian Education. The Journal of American Indian Education continues to publish cutting-edge scholarship to this day. Mr Gill advocated for strengthening college access among high school students from Indian communities; ASU invited 70 Indian students to the 1967 summer program where he developed curriculum focusing on language arts, typing, mathematics, Indian culture, health care, and career guidance. Mr. Gill and his assistant, Gabriel Sharp, encouraged the summer program students to attend ASU after they graduated from high school.
Both Mr. Gill and Dr. Roessel combined their expertise and secured funding for the high school summer program. In 1969, they received a $104,715 grant from the Office of Economic Opportunity to fund the program, which was named the All-Indian Upward Bound. Together Mr. Gill and Dr. Roessel maintained this project until 1971, which at the time was recognized as one of the few programs of its kind in the nation. In 1974 and 1975, Mr. Gill and Dr. Roessel published a General Reference Guide for Indians on topics such as health care and access to employment and federal services.
George A. Gill was born on July 25, 1925 in Sioux City, Iowa, and passed away on December 25, 2007. He contributed to the legacy of Indian education at ASU and beyond.