Community will study Native American classic Sept. 3 at Stillwater Public Library

MEDIA RELEASE • For Immediate Release

LTAI fall 2003

(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Aug. 21, 2013) – The Stillwater community will explore Plains Indian culture beginning Tuesday, Sept. 3, when the Stillwater Public Library holds its first discussion in this fall’s series, “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma: Native American Writers of the Plains.”  Dr. Hugh Foley will provide interpretation and background for the first book, “Fools Crow.”

The series, presented by Stillwater Public Library and the OSU Edmon Low Library, begins at 6:30 p.m. Foley will discuss Blackfeet culture, Native American traditions and themes throughout the book.  It will also include commentary on the book’s author, James Welch.

A shorter program “Book Talks and Dynamic Dialogues” will take place at Edmon Low Library, Peggy V. Helmerich Browsing Room at 3 p.m. the same day.  This program is a scholar book talk for those who have not read the book followed by conversations of diverse themes. 

Welch is regarded as one of the leaders of the Native American Renaissance, a time beginning in the 1960s and 1970s when Native American literature dramatically increased.  Welch’s parents were members of the Blackfeet and Gros Ventre tribes.  He spent part of his childhood in school at the Blackfeet reservation.

In college, Welch’s mentor called the writer’s poetry “unfocused” and encouraged Welch to give the poetry more depth by writing what he knew.  Welch took the advice and began writing about his home, life on a reservation and Native American culture.  That advice resulted in numerous poetry collections and five highly acclaimed books, including 1986’s “Fools Crow” which follows a young Blackfeet man through the last glory days of his tribe. 

Part of Welch’s story was inspired by his paternal grandmother’s leadership of the band of Blackfeet Indians who escaped the 1870 Marias River massacre. This massacre of 173 Native American women, children and men by white settlers is a prominent part of “Fools Crow.”

After being published to critical acclaim, the book received the American Book Award, Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Pacific Northwest Book Award.  Welch subsequently received the Native Writers Circle of the Americas’ Lifetime Achievement Award and France’s Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Program scholar Dr. Hugh Foley is a professor of fine arts at Rogers State University in Claremore, Okla., where he teaches Native American Studies, cinema and music appreciation/history courses.

Foley earned a Ph.D. in English from OSU and both an M.A. and B.A in English from New York University.  He taught beginning and intermediate Muscogee (Creek) through OSU Arts & Science extension, as well as courses on Contemporary Native American Issues, Native Americans of North America, Native Americans of Oklahoma and Native American Literature.  Foley's video documentaries on Native American music, life and contemporary issues have been shown at national conferences and on public television in several states.

Later programs in the series include “Mean Spirit” by Linda Hogan (Chickasaw) presented by Dr. Lindsey Smith on Sept. 24; “The Bingo Palace” by Louise Erdrich (Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa) presented by Dr. Julie Pearson-Little Thunder on Oct. 15; and “Medicine River” by Thomas King (Cherokee) presented by Dr. Helen Clements on Nov. 5.

Books for the free program can be picked up at the Stillwater Public Library.  The public is encouraged to attend whether or not they read the book.

For more information, visit the Stillwater Public Library web site at library.stillwater.org, or call 405-372-3633. For more information about the “Book Talk and Dynamic Dialogue” program at the OSU Library, visit library.okstate.edu or call 405-744-7331.

Books, services and other materials for this series are provided by Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma, a project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and the Inasmuch Foundation.

Partners for “Native American Writers of the Plains” include Friends of Stillwater Public Library and City of Stillwater. Partners from OSU include Friends of OSU Library, Division of Institutional Diversity, Center for Oklahoma Studies, American Indian Studies, American Indians in Psychology Department of History, Department of English, Learning And Student Success Opportunity Center, Native American Faculty/Staff Association, and Native American Student Association.  Stillwater Public Library programs are co-sponsored by KOSU.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. (the corner of Duck and 12th Ave.). The OSU Edmon Low Library is located on the OSU campus. Community parking on campus is available for a fee in the Student Union or Monroe Street Parking Garages.