Plains Indian culture explored in libraries' newest community reading event

MEDIA RELEASE • For Immediate Release

Twitter status: Plains Indian culture explored in libraries’ newest community reading event. #StwOK

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(STILLWATER, OKLA. / July 11, 2013) – Following the last of the “Indian Wars” in the 1800s, stories documenting the culture of the Plains tribes began to dwindle.  A book discussion series by the Stillwater Public Library and OSU Library explores this less documented segment of Native American history. 

The series, “Native American Writers of the Plains” takes place Sept. 3-Nov. 5 with events at both libraries.  It is part of the statewide "Let's Talk About It, Oklahoma" project of the Oklahoma Humanities Council with funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Inasmuch Foundation.  

“These programs let us talk about subjects that are important to our community,” said Lynda Reynolds, program coordinator.  “The common theme throughout these books is relevant to Native Americans and to others.  Namely, the struggle to maintain your identity while living among other, sometimes conflicting cultures.  It will make for great discussions.”

Beginning Aug. 1, participants can pick up the first book in the series.  The program for each book features a scholar providing background and meaning to what has been read.  Afterwards, participants discuss the book in small groups.  

“My husband and I appreciate the library providing these programs,” said Cynthia Shawley, a Let’s Talk About It participant.  “It pushes me to read books I would never have read otherwise and it’s stimulating to get other people’s opinions on topics when everyone has such diverse backgrounds.”

The programs take place at the Stillwater Public Library on Tuesdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.  A 3 p.m. book talk by the scholar at the Edmon Low Library precedes each evening event.

The first of these programs on Tuesday, Sept. 3, features the book “Fools Crow” by James Welsh, a writer from the Blackfeet (Siksika) tribe, with scholar commentary by Hugh Foley of Rogers State University. 

“Fools Crow” follows a young Blackfeet man through the last glory days of his tribe before their numbers are decimated by encroachers who violate treaties, initiate hostilities and introduce a smallpox epidemic.  According to the series handbook, the book is Welch's evocative portrait of the Blackfoot’s bygone way of life. The Blackfeet are one of a large number of tribes called “Plains Indians.” 

According to Reynolds, Plains tribes are those who lived in the Great Plains from Texas up into Canada and relied on buffalo as their main food source.  Nomadic hunting was often an integral part of their culture. 

“We chose this theme because so many Plains tribes are now located in this area, including the Iowa and Ponca tribes,” said Reynolds.  “These tribes also produce great American authors like the ones we are reading in this series.”

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

Books are provided by the Oklahoma Humanities Council and can be picked up at either the Stillwater Public Library or the OSU Library.  Reading the book is encouraged but not required to participate.

“The books chosen are always very interesting,” said Shawley.  “I like these programs because it is okay if you do not always read the whole book.  You’ll still really enjoy the scholar and the discussions.”

Programs are free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided at each program.

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 American Indian Studies, American Indians in Psychology, Center for Oklahoma Studies, Friends of OSU Library, Division of Institutional Diversity, Native American Student Association, History Department, English Department and Native American Faculty Staff 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.

The Stillwater Public Library is located at 1107 S. Duck St. Library hours are Monday-Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. 

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