Arlene Hirschfelder died August 21 in Englewood, N.J., with her family surrounding her. She was 78.

She was born in 1943 in Chicago and grew up surrounded by history books and a family where reading and writing were deemed as important as breathing and eating. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University and M.A.T. from the University of Chicago.

She started her career as an American history teacher in Ladue, Mo., before moving to the New York city area with her husband Dennis, to whom she was married for 55 years. She completed post-graduate work at Columbia University Teachers’ College. The Hirschfelders raised their two children in Teaneck, N.J.

A lifelong educator, respected scholar, award-winning author and champion of Native American and children’s rights, Arlene wrote and edited almost 100 nonfiction books and curricula, curated museum exhibitions and consulted with a vast array of institutions, agencies and corporations to improve their portrayal, awareness and presentation of Indigenous peoples.

She was key in debunking stereotypes and inaccurate information locally and nationally, and was considered a fearless and compassionate advocate in Indian country.

For more than two decades, she served as the scholarship director and education consultant for the Association on American Indian Affairs; her research there helped inform the Indian Child Welfare Act in 1978. Later, she was a consultant at the Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian and a faculty member at the New School for Social Research.

The Hirschfelder-Molin Stereotype Collection, also named for her co-collaborator, Dr. Paulette Fairbanks Molin, is one of the largest of its kind and is housed at the Sequoyah National Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Her book Photo Odyssey: Solomon Carvalho’s Remarkable Western Adventure 1853-54 served as the basis for an award-winning 2015 documentary.

She championed Native American writers, enabling several to break into publishing. At the time of her death, she was working on the book Indigenous Firsts.

An ardent supporter of justice for children, she was the founding editor of Rowman and Littlefield’s award-winning series It Happened to Me, which targets teenagers searching for answers to life’s most difficult questions related to social issues, health matters and lifestyles.

She was a workshop facilitator, teacher trainer and presenter at venues ranging from the Aquinnah Cultural Center and Nathan Mayhew Seminars to Sun Valley Elementary School in San Rafael. She was an accomplished artist. Greeting card design, collage, paper-making, water colors and sketching were all talents.

Arlene was a loving mother, wife and grandmother who valued family as the most important thing in her life. A welcoming and non-judgmental presence, she created a spirit of community among all those who shared her world. She was loyal and her peers, colleagues and once-strangers became lifelong friends.

For 43 years, she and her family spent summer vacations on Martha’s Vineyard, her favorite place. She described it as her place of bliss and she worked on many publishing projects in the house the family rented every year in East Chop. Although she was gravely ill, she was able to be there with most of her family just days before she died.

She is survived by her husband, Dennis; son Adam and his wife, Jen Traeger; daughter Brooke and her husband, Kieran McConville; sister Judi; grandsons Micah, Elias and Hugh; and countless friends.

Donations can be made to the Aquinnah Cultural Center on Martha’s Vineyard or 35 Aquinnah Circle, Aquinnah MA 02535, or to MAZON A Jewish Response to Hunger at