Dr. Gwen Nell Westerman holds a BA and MA in English from Oklahoma State University, and a PhD in English from the University of Kansas.
Westerman is the author of Follow the Blackbirds (Michigan State University Press, 2013), a poetry collection written in Dakota and English, and co-author of Mni Sota Makoce: The Land of the Dakota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012), which won a 2013 Minnesota Book Award and a 2014 Hognander Minnesota History Award. The recipient of the Douglass R. Moore Faculty Research Award and three Artist Initiative Grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, Westerman is the first indigenous poet laureate of Minnesota.
Westerman teaches American and Native Nations literature, technical communication, and humanities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In 2022, Westerman received an Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship.