Minnesota Humanities Center

Request for Writers: Dakota and Ojibwe Book Publishing Opportunity

Posted September 11, 2019

The Minnesota Humanities Center (MHC) and the Minnesota Indian Affairs Council (MIAC) are seeking up to four writers for a series of third-grade level books highlighting the history and experiences of influential Dakota and Ojibwe people: leaders, healers, culture-keepers, and other notable figures.

These books will supplement the “Why Treaties Matter” traveling exhibit and community engagement project.

Submissions are due Oct.14, 2019.

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Recently, MHC and MIAC convened several of the scholars and community members we have been learning from about treaties, sovereignty, and education through Native topics to discuss the opportunities and needs for “Why Treaties Matter.” This group determined that content that would engage younger kids in humanities learning around this knowledge was needed.

The “Why Treaties Matter” exhibit is designed mostly for people ages 12 and up. There is lots of reading and lots of big ideas. A visitor to the exhibit learns about treaties and their effects, including dislocation, language, and lifeways disruption. A visitor also learns how contemporary Native nations wield sovereignty by managing land, wildlife, and natural resources; fostering economic development; and providing services to tribal citizens. Young children need to engage with this knowledge, too. That is why, with the leadership of our co-editors — Heid Erdrich and Gwen Westerman — we are creating this book series.

Erdrich and Westerman write, “We envision a series of children’s books by, for, and about Dakota and Ojibwe people that portray our histories, knowledge-ways, culture-keepers, and beloved figures. These biographies will help Dakota, Ojibwe, and other Native American children imagine their own potential and help them see their cultures represented alongside biographies of [American] leaders in our society.”

Both Erdrich and Westerman are distinguished authors, scholars, and educators, and we are excited to support their vision of this series becoming real.

Erdrich’s poetry and other writings have won awards and honors from the National Poetry Series, Loft Literary Center, Native Arts and Culture Foundation, and other organizations. She teaches writing and is a frequent speaker on Native American literature, visual art, and Indigenous foods, among other subjects. Erdrich lives in Minnesota and is Ojibwe, enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She enjoys working with students, communities, and librarians.

Dr. Gwen Westerman’s writings have appeared in many poetry anthologies. Her collection “Follow the Blackbirds,” was published in 2013 by Michigan State University Press. Dr. Westerman holds her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. in English, and teaches at Minnesota State University, Mankato. She received the Douglas R. Moore Faculty Research Award for her research on Dakota history and language. Her roots are deep in the landscape of the tall grass prairie, and reveal themselves in her art and writing through the languages and traditions of her family.

We encourage you to take a moment to share this announcement widely, especially with Dakota or Ojibwe writers in your life. If you have questions, contact program officers Eden Bart at eden@mnhum.org or Jennifer Tonko at jennifer@mnhum.org.

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By: Minnesota Humanities Center