´Let's Talk About It" reading series continues at Stillwater Public Library on Oct. 15

Julie Pearson Little Thunder(STILLWATER, OKLA. / Oct. 1, 2013) – On Tuesday, Oct. 15 at 6:30 p.m., Dr. Julie Pearson-Little Thunder will discuss “The Bingo Palace” by Louise Erdrich which is the third novel in the Stillwater Public Library’s “Let’s Talk About It” series.  The library is using community reading, scholarly presentations and group discussion to gain a better understanding of Native American culture and Plains Indian literature.

“The Bingo Palace,” published in 1994, follows characters struggling with life and coming of age on a Native American reservation in North Dakota.  Characters from Erdrich’s earlier novels “Love Medicine,” “The Beet Queen,” and “Tracks” reprise their roles in “The Bingo Palace.”  Taken as a whole, the four novels are meant to represent an entire century of Native American culture.

“What I think is inspiring about the novel is that it is peopled by great eccentrics who make us laugh or wince or inhale sharply with their complex observations and amazing flight patterns of thought,” said Pearson-Little Thunder.

“Native people, like everyone else, dream, love, wrestle with compulsions, deal with dysfunctional families, succeed, fail, and lose people they love prematurely.  Perhaps the most realistic parts of ‘The Bingo Palace’ have to do with the prejudice encountered by American Indians, and the kinds of cultural misunderstandings that occur when people are forced to deal daily with institutions, economic systems and belief systems different from their own.”

Pearson-Little Thunder is the Visiting Assistant Professor for OSU’s Oklahoma Oral History Research Program which she joined in September 2010.  She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas and specializes in Native Theater, though oral histories and oral history methodology have always been an important part of her work.  Pearson-Little Thunder has taught in a variety of institutions, including Haskell Indian Nations University and written extensively about the Native art scene for “Oklahoma Today” and “Southwest Art” magazine.

On the same, Pearson-Little Thunder will lead a 3 p.m. discussion at the Edmond Low Library about Erdrich’s novel.         

Erdrich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, is considered one of the most important writers in modern Native American literature.  Her novel “Love Medicine” won the National Book Critics Circle Award, while “The Plague of Doves” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.  Erdrich’s “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse” was a finalist for the National Book Award, and in Nov. 2012, her book “The Round House” won the award. 

While Erdrich is currently one of the most popular Native American writers, Pearson-Little Thunder urges readers to acquaint themselves with a wide range of Native writers.

“I think we should avoid canonizing individual Native writers,” said Pearson-Little Thunder.  “People should read all the Native writing they can, published and unpublished, because no single Native writer can ever adequately represent the experiences of the over 500 tribes and the descendants of possibly 100 million people whose cultures were constantly changing and adapting to their environment and other cultures long before European contact.

Pearson-Little Thunder believes series like “Let’s Talk About It” play an important role in helping people understand these other cultures.

“Book discussions like these offer opportunities to engage with viewpoints and concerns that may be different from our own,” said Pearson-Little Thunder.  “The more we know about each other and the world, the richer our lives are and the better equipped we will be for the changes to come.”

“Let’s Talk About It” programs are free and open to the public.  Copies of “The Bingo Palace” can be picked up at the Stillwater Public Library.  Books in the series are provided by the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund and the Inasmuch Foundation.  Reading the book is encouraged but not required to participate.

For more information, visit the Stillwater Public Library web site at library.stillwater.org, or call 405-372-3633, or the OSU Library website at www.library.okstate.edu or call 405-744-7331.

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 in the heart of the OSU campus. Community parking on the OSU campus is available for a fee in the Student Union or Monroe Street Parking Garages.