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The List: 1) Eating & drinking w/friends; 2) Buying books, 3) Shopping for fun clothes

March 9, 2010

Three things make life worth living.   Re-read the order above.  Okay, okay, there are other things, too. I agree #2 and #3 are often inter-changeable.  And yes, there is a #4, but I can’t talk about it.  Although I must say that #4 becomes #1  at the oddest of moments. . .  (#5 must wait for another post. Hint.  It involves sports.)

Ah-hum. More on #2 and #3.

The order of importance strictly depends on the city your in.  For example, I was just in Santa Fe with friends and didn’t even try to find a bookstore. I feel sick at heart for being so-o-o-o-o shallow (no, really I do), so consider this a confessional post in 25 words or less.   I just ran out of the rental car, rushed into an overpriced clothing store on Santa Fe’s Plaza, bought a jacket, and rushed out.  Fini!

Story motive: I had to get to a scholarly conference or else.

Second confession. Did I ever tell you the story of my friend Tayari Jones and I and how we spent three hours in a fancy French brassiere shop in NYC?  I wish I could remember the name and order some new undies online, before the worst comes to the worst, and I must resort to shopping at Target because I live nine months out of the year in Champaign, IL where the list consists of only #2.  There are no #3’s, or #1’s.


While I was at the most recent NALS (Native American Literature Symposium) I had a few hours for #1  in some pretty poshy restaurants with writers on the verge.  It seems writers and academics everywhere are short on #1’s.

Pictured above is Leilani Basham, (left) assistant professor of Hawaiian Language Studies. She’s fluent in Native Hawaiian.  When she sang a story in her language during a presentation at NALS, she brought tears to my eyes.  Native American Literature Symposium (NALS) was held at the Isleta Casino this year.   There were some 195 registered participants. We’ve grown in numbers over the years and so has the scholarship in Native American literature[s].   More bragging below.

Pictured (left to right)  is Lynne Harlan, Eastern Band of Cherokee.  She’s a Cherokee writer for her tribe in Cherokee, North Carolina.  She was a tremendous help to those of us hired to make the 90-minute film for PBS, Spiral of Fire, 2006.  (Note to Lynne:  Come to Ada, Oklahoma this summer.  Reciprocity is everything it’s cracked up to be among Natives, I mean, indigenous peoples.  I know, I know it’s hot as hell in OK in July.)  Anyway, Spiral of Fire is about the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians and their community, schools, people, and history.

Next to Lynn is Jill Doerfler, assistant professor at University of Minnesota-Duluth.  Jill (Ojibwe) won the 2010 NALS Bea Medicine Award for her essay, “An Anishinaabe Tribalography:Investigating and Interweaving Conceptions of Identity during the 1910s on the White Earth Reservation.” She’s working on a new book that will be out this next year.  Watch for the release date here.

Also pictured above (far right) is Jodi Byrd, assistant professor at the University of Illinois.  Jodi is the new ASAIL president for 2010-2011.  ASAIL is the Association for the Studies of American Indian Literature and the organization publishes a journal. Google it. Jodi has just finished a new scholarly book in our field.  Watch for its release date here.

Hot off the press news: Forthcoming this month are two new titles from the dynamic duo, Robert Warrior and Jace Weaver, Indigenous Americas Series editors at the University of Minnesota Press .  They’ve just published Jean M. O’Brien, and Scott Richard Lyons new books. Yah! These two powerful books are well crafted  and certain to be influential in the field of Native American and Indigenous Studies for years to come.  Jean’s work has been foundational to me because she shows how Natives are erased from the historic record and replaced with non-natives that have been credited as the source of all things “America,” which is not accurate. Scott’s book is exciting because he shows how signatures or X-marks on treaty’s can be read as something more than resigned acceptance by the American Indians who signed them.  Buy them and put them in your children’s Easter baskets.  Buy them and pass them out at Passover. . . well okay, after Passover.  Buy them and give them as birthday gifts to all people born in April.  Buy them and mail them to your Senators and Congressional representatives.

Jean M. O’Brien’s Firsting and Lasting: Writing Indians Out of Existence in New England.

Scott Richard Lyon’s X-Marks: Native Signatures of Assent.

More writers and #1:

Pictured (left) is Dean Rader, associate professor at the University of San Francisco, and winner of the 2010 T.S. Eliot prize for poetry.  Dean’s forthcoming book is titled Work and Days, and will be out this September.  He’s also a regular participant at NALS, and guest editor of the impressive Sentence, a journal of prose poetics. In the latest edition of Sentence is the largest collection of  contemporary Native poetry. Ever.  Buy it!  Put it in the Easter basket under that green stuff along with the other goodies. 

Seated next to Dean is Ginny Carney (right), the president of the Leech Lake College in Bemidji, Minnesota, and one of the NALS Clan Mothers.

Another  book I want to mention is David Chang’s The Color of the Land: Race, Nation, and the Politics of Landownership in Oklahoma, 1832-1929. David is at the University of Minnesota in the history department.  I highly recommend it too.  Congratulations to everyone.

Go #2’s.  Next week, a long discussion on #5.

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