Image of Elizabeth LaPensée standing in front of a mural.Elizabeth LaPensée is an award-winning designer, writer, artist, and researcher who creates and studies Indigenous-led media such as games and comics. She is Anishinaabe, Metis, and Irish, living near the Great Lakes as an Assistant Professor of Media & Information and Writing, Rhetoric & American Cultures at Michigan State University. 

Most recently, she designed and created art for Thunderbird Strike (2017), a lightning-searing side scroller video game, as well as Honour Water (2016), an Anishinaabe singing game for healing water. Her work also includes analog games, such as The Gift of Food (2014), a board game about Northwest Native traditional foods.

She runs hands-on workshops in an effort to build capacity for Indigenous-led game development. She created curriculum for the award-winning Skins Workshop developed by Aboriginal Territories in Cyberspace and the Initiative for Indigenous Futures. For over ten years, she has offered workshops to partners including the United Indian Students in Higher Education Youth Day in Portland, Oregon; Aboriginal Youth Science Exchange Camp in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario; Urban Native Youth Association in Vancouver, British Columbia; Native Girls Code for Gen7 in Seattle, Washington; Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education in Milwaukee, Wisconsin; and Salish Kootenai College in Polson, Montana.

Visit Elizabeth LaPensée's website

Open ​Elizabeth LaPensée's CV

Summer Workshop Event Details

Free Gaming Workshops for Teens

August 15-17
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
Art Reach of Mid Michigan
(111 E. Broadway St., Mount Pleasant, MI 48858)
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Dr. Elizabeth LaPensée will lead free gaming workshops for 12-18 year olds on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday August 15-17 through the Art Reach of Mid Michigan.

Get hands on experience with sovereign game design as an approach to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math informal learning by paper prototyping games themed around water. Participants will play with typical game prototyping materials such as paper, pens, cardstock, sticky notes, and wooden tokens, as well as uniquely Indigenous inspired materials including leather, beads and copper, in honor of water teachings.

Games can be playable card games, board games, or story games, or mockups for digital games such as mobile games or video games. By actively engaging in the process of game design, you will both generate ideas for water games which you are welcome to develop further as well as gain insights about how to run your own informal game design learning to engage community members—particularly youth—in STEAM, with an emphasis on Indigenous ways of knowing regarding science.

Call 989-773-3689 to sign up now! Space is limited.

Past Events

Sovereign Game Prototyping Workshop

Tuesday, April 3
6:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Powers Hall Ballroom
Open event flier

What would analog game prototyping look like using Indigenously-determined materials like leather, beads, copper, and birch bark? What kinds of games can we imagine that reflect sovereign bodies and relationships? What game spaces can we co-create which we are reciprocal with?


Elizabeth LaPensée's visit to Central Michigan University is sponsored by the Olga J. and G. Roland Denison Visiting Professorship of Native American Studies​ within the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Central Michigan University and the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways.

For more information, contact Angie Burdett at 989-774-3341 or

Image from Honour Water designed by Elizabeth Lapensee.

Image from Thunderbird Strike designed by Elizabeth LaPensee.