Sunday, August 7, 2011
12:30 - 1:00: Award winning Readers' Theater group from Little Wound High School, Kyle, SD
1:00-2:00: Readings from the Static Exhibits, Literature Division (poetry) competition winners
2:00-3:00: Featured Poet, Christine Stewart-Nunez, and open microphone readings from poets including our own Mabel Picotte, as well as James Schmidt, Rosemary Moeller, June Ohm, Bob Ohm, and Bruce Roseland.
Here is a photo of Mabel reading at the recent Oak Lake Writers' Society annual reading out at the Oak Lake Field Station in Brookings County, SD. More pics coming soon.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Left to right: Lowell Amiottte, Elden Lawrence,
Craig Howe, Tasiyagnunpa Livermont, Norbert Jones Jr., Lucy Keith, Austin Keith, Edward Valandra, Mabel Picotte, Chuck Woodard (founder), Kim TallBear, Deanna Stands, Darrren Renville, Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn (Co-mentor), Florestine Renville, Kateri Bird, Gordon Henry (Co-mentor), and Marie Giago
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Writing this blog entry feels a little like starting a free write. Where do I begin? Yesterday was the first full day of our annual retreat at the South Dakota State University Oak Lake Field Station and lodge. It was oppressively hot and humid.
Thankfully, we got a break today from the heat. To my eyes—I’ve lived away from South Dakota for years—a gorgeous storm blew through early this morning. The skies all around were lit by silent flashing lights and shattered by lightening. We didn’t get the 60 mph winds and hail that was on warning for the surrounding counties. But I fled my tent for the lodge anyway, and finished my night's sleep under the safety of a roof (p.s. in late morning the winds did unstake my tent on its frame. It took a roll around the lodge grounds).
Back on topic: We had a lovely, comfortable afternoon today. The breeze was strong. In the high-ceilinged lodge amidst whirring fans, this year’s mentor, Gordon Henry, Professor and Director of Creative Writing in the Department of English at Michigan State University, directed a writing workshop session with an informal discussion centered around poems written by prominent Native American poets, including Ray Young Bear and Maurice Kenny. Younger, less published writers from around the state of South Dakota sat alongside older, sometimes widely published writers. Conversations revolved around analyses of style and language choice—in particular the intersections between western literary forms and whether or not the writers achieved convincingly tribal voices that seemed culturally-based in ways that reflected relationships with particular landscapes.
Henry also spoke about the way that writing practice might come and go amidst the other things that we all need to do in life. Indeed, our group, old and young alike, is populated with teachers, professors, students, a journalist and community organizer, an architect, a psychologist, a factory worker/daydreamer/rhymer, artists, parents and grandparents, and the list goes on. Most us live and work in tribal communities. When Henry encouraged people to keep writing it was within this broader understanding of the very full lives of our members. We also talked about the need to write in ways that can be spoken. And we strategized about the need to do more readings and to create venues for literature readings in the state. After the afternoon session and just before dinner, the writers and mentors conversed informally in small groups, their conversations entwining literary, university, and tribal politics.
Tomorrow is our annual retreat reading and potluck out at the lodge. All of the participants will read poems or excerpts from longer pieces. The reading and meal draws a large and appreciative audience of academics, writers, teachers, and those interested in literature from South Dakota State University and the broader Brookings community. Our audience members also bring the food. We’ll post photos and a video of the reading soon.
Tired, but still working, blog administrator Tasi Livermont and I are here at this fantastic locally-owned coffee house in Brookings, Cottonwood Coffee, downtown on Main. We need the internet to work on the Web site, which goes live very soon. And we love the blended mochas. Not too sweet, extra shot of espresso. Life is good wired.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
In this video, Tasi explains her work and that of her fellow contributors to cover sustainable living throughout the upper Midwest. The Digest highlights the "amazingly simple" and "simply amazing" things that folks in the region are doing to live easier on the land and to build community around the concept of sustainability.
Sustainable Dakota Digest covers the stories in sustainability from central Minnesota through South Dakota into North Dakota, Wyoming, and northern Nebraska. We talk about sustainability as it means to us in our region. Instead of looking to information from California or the East Coast or in the Southwest, or other places in our great country, or even other countries, we are looking at what works here for us.
Please visit www.sustainabledakota.com where you can meet Tasi and her many neighbors and friends throughout the region and get timely news about their inspiring work.
Monday, June 13, 2011
Here is a link to a YouTube video of Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, one of our Oak Lake mentors, doing a poetry reading at the Rapid City Public Library, 10th Annual High Plains Writers Spring Poet's Coffeehouse. If you're interested in knowing more about Liz's work, the Rapid City Journal did a nice article on her back in February 2009 when she was awarded the 2009 South Dakota Living Indian Treasure Award. The award is presented "to a South Dakota Native American elder who upholds superiority in traditional native art forms." Cook-Lynn received the award during the 2009 Governor's Awards in the Arts ceremony on Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2009 in Pierre.
Monday, April 18, 2011
Lowell Amiotte has spent the last 44 years in education. His early years were spent in the classroom teaching History and English. After doing his graduate work at the University of South Dakota and the University of Minnesota, Lowell went to work for the education centers being formed on the Pine Ridge, Rosebud and Cheyenne River Reservations. These centers later became Oglala Lakota College, Sinte Gleska University and Cheyenne River Community College. He helped establish the American Indian Higher Education Consortium and served on the board of directors during the founding of the American Indian Scholarship Fund and the American Indian College Journal. He was a founding member and served as president of the South Dakota Indian Education Association and the South Dakota Association of Bilingual/Bicultural Education. Lowell was a founding member of the South Dakota Indian Counselors Association. He also served in teaching and administrative positions at Black Hills State University and South Dakota State University. Lowell was president of Oglala Lakota College and was a representative at the White House Conference on Indian Education. Dr. Amiotte has been awarded two honorary doctorates.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Editors Craig Howe, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, and Lanniko Lee have just submitted the latest Oak Lake Writers' Society manuscript, He Sapa Woihanble (Black Hills Dream), which will be published by Living Justice Press, Saint Paul, this fall.
In the volume’s introduction, Howe and Whirlwind Soldier describe He Sapa as “the spiritual center and homeland of the Oceti Sakowin, the Seven Council Fires people,” and as “a breathtakingly beautiful ecosystem of pine-covered hills, steep-walled rock canyons, countless caves, and meandering meadows that rise out of the northern Plains like an ocean island.” As such, indigenous peoples draw both “physical and spiritual sustenance” from that place. The volume includes traditional and contemporary stories, mythical accounts, memoirs, poems, and critical and historical essays, as well as a transcribed and edited conversation of some of the writers. The conversation and the selected writings in the book address this question: What do the Black Hills, He Sapa, mean to you?
Collectively, the writers’ responses also treat the “spiritual, social, psychological, and environmental ramifications of the exploitation of He Sapa that began in the 19th century.” To provide critical context for understanding Oceti Sakowin peoples' survival within a legacy of exploitation, the volume reprints four legal documents: 1) the 1851 Fort Laramie Treaty; 2) the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty; 3) the 1877 Act; and 4) excerpts from the 1980 U.S. Supreme Court decision, United States v. Sioux Nation of Indians. The history of this place is both one of profound beauty and one of harsh and continuing struggle. This volume presents a complex picture in which history is with us in the present.
We thank our editors for their vision and for working so diligently on our behalf over the course of several years to help us bring this book into being. He Sapa Woihanble is forthcoming in September 2011. As they become available, we’ll post additional publication details here and links for ordering the book.
The voices of He Sapa Woihanble are a diverse and powerful chorus, offering critical testimony on one of America's most iconic sites. These authors chart an enduring relationship with sacred ground, and remind us of our kinship to this exploited territory. Through oral histories, poems, legal documents and scholarship, these voices swell with urgent grace until I am convinced the Black Hills themselves are singing.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
Charmaine White Face, Zumila Wobaga, is Oglala Tituwan Oceti Sakowin (Oglala Lakota from the Great Sioux Nation). She is the Spokesperson for the Sioux Nation Treaty Council, established in 1893, and the author of An Analysis of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. She also founded and coordinates Defenders of the Black Hills, a non-profit environmental organization which received the international Nuclear Free Future Award for Resistance in 2007, in Salzburg, Austria. She may be contacted at email@example.com.
Lydia Whirlwind Soldier is a Sicangu Lakota born in Bad Nation on the Rosebud reservation in South Dakota. She is an enrolled member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, and has worked in education for thirty years. She has a Master’s in Education Administration from Pennsylvania State University, and is a poet, nonfiction writer, business owner, and recognized craftswoman.
In 1994, she received first place at the Northern Plains Tribal Arts exposition in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for a traditional cradleboard. Her collection of poems, Memory Songs, was published in 1999 by the Center for Western Studies in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.