Lawmakers recognize journey to bridge cultures

“We’re all walking side by side and sometimes not even aware of it. Programs like this help us share our human experience.” – Dr. Twyla Baker-Demaray
“We’re all walking side by side and sometimes
not even aware of it. Programs like this help us
share our human experience.”
– Dr. Twyla Baker-Demaray

By Jennifer Strange

For the Dunn County Herald

Communication is the focus of “Native Americans & The Media Arts: Bridging Cultures & Creative Journeys,” this weekend at the High Plains Cultural Center in Killdeer.

The daylong event will run from 1-8:30 p.m. and is free, open to the public.

Five Native American thought leaders will be onhand to address the roles of American Indians in today’s film, scholarship, literature and journalism/new media.

Scholars include documentarian Juan Carlos Peinado (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara), Dr. Twyla Baker-Demaray (Mandan-Hidatsa-Arikara), Williston-based singer-songwriter Jaese Lecuyer (Algonquin-Metis), award-winning author Susan Power (Yanktonai Dakota) and Pulitzer Prize Finalist Mark Trahant (Shoshone-Bannock).

The program launches  with welcome letters from Sen. John Hoeven (R-N.D.) and Sen. Heidi Heikamp (D-N.D.).

“Our country is enriched by the men and women who develop their artistic potential to inspire, encourage and motivate,” wrote Sen. Hoeven. “This weekend offers the opportunity to network with others who share your love of literature and writing.”

Immediately following is Peinado’s 2006 documentary, Waterbuster.

A panel discussion moderated by Trahant is at 3:30 p.m. An evening Reception & Readings begins at 5:30 p.m. with complimentary appetizers and live music. Then scholars share from their current projects. A book sale and signing tops things off.

Discussions include current Native American events, said Jennifer Strange, the executive director of the Dunn County Writers, a non-profit group that organized the event.

The program’s convergence with the Dakota Access Pipeline resistance near Standing Rock Sioux Reservation is purely coincidental.

“We’ve been planning this program for almost a year,” Strange said. “We think the alignment of those events and this communications-based cultural arts program is both mysterious and meaningful. We hope everyone who attends takes the opportunity to be entertained and educated and to truly bridge cultures and make new friends.”

The PEN/Hemingway Award-winning writer Susan Power is featured on Saturday’s Panel and reads from her work at Saturday’s Reception.

“Our self-representation is critical for the health and stability of indigenous and mainstream individuals, families and communities,” said the author of Roofwalker, The Grass Dancer and Sacred Wilderness.

Like so many Americans, Power was raised in diversity. She credits this with an embrace of all voices.

“My own family includes Native American, white American and African (Tanzanian) members,” Power said. “So I don’t think of my work as an exercise in ‘preservation,’ rather as an opening to varieties of the human experience.”

On Sunday, Power leads a three-hour writing workshop centered on “Intuitive Wordsmithing: A Generative Writing Workshop” at the HPCC. Five spots remain as of press time.

“We will work on widening the focus of the writer’s lens to bring in a different view,” she said.

This program is funded in part by The North Dakota Humanities Council and generous sponsorships from the Dunn County Herald, Heart River Writers’ Circle and Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College.

Program co-sponsors include CashWise, Cobblestone Inn & Suites, Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce, DC Pub & Grub, 2 7/8 Bar, Dunn County Herald, Family Fare, High Plains Cultural Center, Quality Quick Print, SM Fencing.

Program supporters include Allstate Insurance, Baker Boy, Dickinson Area Public Library, Dunn County Historical Society & Museum, First International Bank & Trust, Killdeer Mountain Manufacturing, Nana Lil’s Café, WCCU, Western Choice.

Share this post