Marcus Briggs-Cloud is an Indigenous Maskoke (Muskogee/Muscogee) person (son of the Wind Clan), community organizer, scholar and musician. He is partnered to Tawna Little, a Kvlice Maskoke person from the Skunk Clan, and together, they have two children. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, Marcus is the author of several peer-reviewed academic articles intersecting liberation theology, linguistics, ecology, race and gender identity. He is currently a doctoral candidate in interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida, manager of the Seminole Tribe of Florida’s Creek immersion language-revitalization program, and director of Ekvn-Yefolecv Indigenous Maskoke Ecovillage centered in Weogufka, Alabama. A member of the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference of The United Methodist Church, Marcus was the invited guest musician for the 2012 General Conference Act of Repentance Service toward Healing Relationships with Indigenous Peoples. Later that year, he served as the composer and choir director for the Vatican canonization liturgy with Pope Benedict XVI for Saint Kateri Tekakwitha, as well as for her canonization Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Peter’s Basilica.
Dr. Brenda Dial Deese is a member of the Lumbee Nation and a resident of Pembroke, North Carolina. She is a retired educator from North Carolina. Other professional experiences include working with AmeriCorps Vista at the Boys & Girls Clubs – Lumbee Country, program coordinator with the Intertribal Talking Circle for the Prevention of Substance Abuse in Native Youth and adjunct faculty with the University of North Carolina – Pembroke in the educational leadership and counseling department. Action research was a major focus in her work as director for student services in the public schools of Robeson County. This work offered direct insight to decision-making practices and reckoning principles with leadership styles among people who represent lived experiences in historical trauma and institutional oppression. The work led to the design and development of the OBED Indigenous Leadership Styles assessment. She designed the OILS assessment tool specifically to identify and characterize strengths and weaknesses of indigenous leadership styles in relation to collectivistic, ancient practices; worldview; intergenerational trauma; internalized oppression; and the metaphysical connections to Indian-ness. Deese holds a doctorate in curriculum, instruction and counselor education from North Carolina State University and earned licenses as a North Carolina Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and a Nationally Certified Counselor. She has a master’s degree in school counseling, certification in educational administration and supervision, and a bachelor’s degree in elementary education.