Kelly Jackson is a member of the Lake du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians. She was born in Wausau, Wisconsin. Raised by her mother, a strong, independent and resourceful woman of primarily German and French Canadian decent. Her father, a full-blooded Ojibwe man from Lac du Flambeau, Stanely Jackson. He was taken from her life when she was still an infant – killed at the old age of 23. But without hesitation, his brother, Larry Jackson stepped up and assumed the role of her father.
Music has been an influential part of her life for as long as she can remember. From the flailing sound of a powwow drum to her dad and uncles relentless guitar festivals. She can remember sitting around the kitchen table watching them sing and play until the sun came up. Singing every old country song that existed, from Johnny cash, Waylon Jennings and of course good ole, Hank Williams. Every now and again one of them would bust out an old 49 song beating on the guitar as if it was the most magnificent hand drum on earth. She was always held up amongst them to sing along. Little did they know their influences would carry her on to produce and record her own music collection.
While her notebooks were filled with lyrics by the time she hit 4th grade, she wrote her first complete song at 11 and performed on the grand stage of GD Jones Elementary School. It kicked off her passion for writing and performing. Since then she has written hundreds of songs and performed for countless venues.
As a preservation professional, Kelly served her community in Lac du Flambeau since 1995 in the field of tribal culture/language and resource preservation. She continues to provide workshops in federal law, and government relations, in addition to sessions focusing on Lac du Flambeau history. She provides technical assistance to federal/state agencies and tribal governments. Her work in the preservation field focuses on the protection of places of cultural importance to the tribes through partnerships and education.
She was the visionary and coordinator of the “Legacy of Survival: Boys Dormitory Interpretive Initiative- a nationally recognized inter-tribal partnership to create a cultural education, research and interpretive center which focuses on government boarding schools and their impacts in Indian Country. The center will be located in the fully restored 1906 boys dormitory building in Lac du Flambeau and will house exhibits, archival and research spaces, language and cultural educational settings and outreach programs. Raising just over 1.3 million dollars of state/private and federal funds, the center is slated for grand opening in late 2012 early 2013.
Kelly’s music represents her deep appreciation for her culture and celebrates and inspires the spirit to move forward no matter what the obstacles one may face.
“Music is more than just a form of expression for me, it’s etched in my spirit and rooted in my soul”. ~Kelly Jackson