Oak Lake Writer Craig Howe featured on front page of Lakota Country Times for contributions in the humanities

The October 12, 2011 Lakota Country Times covered Craig Howe’s South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC) Award for “extraordinary support of the humanities” in South Dakota. If you’re not a subscriber, you must wait 30 days to view the article in its entirety in the LCT archives. Or you can subscribe to the Lakota Country Times! One of our writers, Vi Waln, is editor of the paper.

But to get back to Craig’s award… he received it along with three other honorees during an October 8th awards ceremony at the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood. (Other honorees include Linda Hasselstrom of Hermosa, South Dakota Magazine, and the City of Deadwood and the Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission). “All of the awardees have worked hard to provide support to the humanities in South Dakota,” Sherry DeBoer, executive director of the South Dakota Humanities Council, said. “From working to create the annual Festival of Books, to providing exceptional support for cultural advocacy for American Indians and South Dakota towns, these honorees are so deserving of the Distinguished Service in the Humanities award for 2011.”

SDHC explains that “Craig Howe has been involved with the South Dakota Humanities Council since 2001. He serves as a member of the American Indian Cultures Task Force, assisting to further SDHC’s involvement with the American Indian population in the state. SDHC has benefited from Howe’s advocacy of cultural programming centered on American Indian Studies as well as his contributions to several SDHC publications. Through his work, he has established the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies, the organization sponsoring the SDHC endowed Teachers’ Institute since 2007.

Howe says of the honor, “For many years [SDHC] has provided exceptionally strong support for projects and programs that focus on American Indian studies and issues of importance to tribal communities. The humanities, particularly in today’s world, may seem to be a frivolous luxury, but I believe they are central to us becoming and being good citizens. Therefore it is a special honor to be recognized for my work in the humanities, and for that recognition to come from [SDHC].”

Sherry DeBoer (SDHC Executive Director), Craig Howe, Tom Dempster (SDHC Board of Directors)


End to a great weekend at the SD Festival of Books

I’m writing from Bully Blend’s Coffee & Tea in downtown Rapid City on a gray, pre-winter Sunday morning. About to catch a flight to Salt Lake City and then on to San Fran after a fascinating weekend back in the home state. Oak Lake Writers’ Web master Tasi Livermont and I, and our respective kids, Miles (10) and Carmen (9), bombed around the South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood this past Friday and Saturday with other Oak Lake Writers.

Carmen & Tasi Livermont @ SD Festival of Books

Also on hand were co-editors of our new volume, He Sapa Woihanble (2011, Living Justice Press) Craig Howe, Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, and Lanniko Lee. Along with poet Mabel Picotte, they hosted a panel and audience discussion Friday on the book’s production process and its cultural politics. Saturday morning, I was M.C. for a poetry reading featuring Ronya Hoblit, Lanniko Lee, Mabel Picotte, Deanna Stands, and Lydia Whirlwind Soldier reading pieces from He Sapa Woihanble. Co-mentor Elizabeth Cook-Lynn also did a very polished, politicized, and humorous as always poetry reading and commentary to a packed room at the Deadwood Public Library yesterday afternoon. (Even Miles and Carmen paid close attention. Carmen asked questions about colonization afterwards. Yeah, that’s right.) Oak Lake annual retreat organizer and institution-builder, Dr. Chuck Woodard from South Dakota State University also joined us at the festival.

C. Howe, M. Picotte, T. Livermont, K. TallBear, L. Whirlwind Soldier

Despite the constant drizzle in Deadwood, the festival was well attended and we sold some books! Last night (Saturday, October 8), there was a buffalo feed and South Dakota Humanities Council awards ceremony in the airy, vaulted-ceiling upstairs function room of the Deadwood Mountain Grand Casino. Craig Howe won an award for contributions to the humanities in South Dakota. Tasi was on hand to take photographs and will post them soon.

Time to hit the road. Almost finished with a large coffee with shot of espresso. If you’re ever in town Bully Blends roasts their own, Fair Trade. They’re at 908 Main Street, and they open early.

Edward Valandra to speak at SDSU, Oct. 7

23rd Annual
Consider the Century:
Native American Perspectives on the Past 100 Years
Friday, October 7
SDSU Student Union 101B

One of the Oak Lake Writers, Edward Valandra, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Founder and Research Fellow, Community for the Advancement of Native Studies, will discuss the teaching of American Indian studies. He will also outline some of the main themes and premises of his book Not Without Our Consent (University of Illinois Press, 2006), and explain how American Indian studies research can provide support for the strengthening and perpetuation of tribal sovereignty.

This program is co-Sponsored by the South Dakota Humanities Council, South Dakota State University, SDSU American Indian Studies Program, SDSU Native American Club, SDSU English Department, SDSU Journalism Department, SDSU Office of Diversity, Brookings Area Reconciliation Council.

For more information contact Conference Coordinator Charles Woodard, SDSU English Department, 688-4056, or charles.woodard@sdstate.edu.

The Lakota Way: then and now. Understanding American Indian history and culture

Craig Howe

On Thursday, September 22nd at 4:30 p.m. there will be a special presentation at the Wakpa Sica Reconciliation Place on Highway 1806 north. The South Dakota Humanities Council is sponsoring a panel discussion to promote this year’s central theme of American Indian cultures. The Lakota Way will be presented from several different perspectives.

The program will feature Oak Lake Writers’ Society member, Dr. Craig Howe, Martin, director of the Center of American Indian Research and Native Studies, who will speak as an historian.

Other speakers include Belinda Joe, Crazy Horse, Culture-Education Specialist for the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, who will present storytelling. Donovin Sprague, Rapid City, author of several books, will give a writer’s view; and, Sandy Swallow, Hill City, will share the artist’s perspective. Ann Campbell, moderator for the panel discussion, will encourage the audience to participate with questions for the panelists.

Refreshments will be served. American State Bank and BankWest have contributed to make this event free and open to the public. Following the panel discussion event, there will be a traditional bison feed for the public, hosted by Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, at the Buffalo Interpretive Center at 6 p.m. The Center is located on the Native American Scenic Byway (Highway 1806 south off Hwy 83) about 6 miles from Fort Pierre. Florentine Blue Thunder of Lower Brule will present a program on Lakota use of and relationship with the buffalo.

This is an opportunity for the community to participate in the South Dakota Humanities Council’s mission of supporting and promoting the exchange of ideas to foster a thoughtful and engaged society.

The goal of the South Dakota Humanities Council is to provide a bedrock of understanding and civility over cultural issues pertaining to our state and its history.

Oak Lake Writers at the South Dakota Festival of Books (Oct 7-9)

If you’re attending the South Dakota Festival of Booksin Deadwood, October 7-9, please come on by the Oak Lake Writers’ two events:

Oak Lake Writers' Society Reading

Friday October 7: 3:00 – 4:30 PM ~ SPECIAL EVENT – Deadwood Pavlion/Chamber of Commerce, He Sapa Woihanble: Black Hills Dream Book Release: Editor Craig Howe will host a conversation about the Oak Lake Writer’s new publication.
Saturday October 8: 9:00 – 9:45 AM – Deadwood Elementary Gymnasium, The Oak Lake Writers will do a reading of poetry and prose.

Stay tuned. We’ll post more information about these two events as soon as our organizers get it to us.

Poetry Day at the SD State Fair (and open mike)

This just in from society member, Mabel Picotte: Poetry Day at the Fair will happen at the South Dakota State Fair in Huron on Saturday, September 3rd from 11:00-3:00 p.m. in the Women’s Center building auditorium. Open-mic readings start at 1:00 pm. Originally we posted here that sign up starts at 11:00 a.m. The organizers have revised that. In the interest of time, please contact bbroseland@venturecomm.net ASAP if you’d like to read. Following is an updated schedule for Poetry Day:

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.

Oak Lake Writers Retreat Update (Tuesday)

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.

Gordon Henry leading a workshop

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 needs 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.

Tasi Livermont working on the Oak Lake Writers Web page

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.

Observing 23 years of N/D/Lakota culture-based writing.