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‘Creating Nations’ to Highlight Native American Studies Initiatives

Symposium will bring together Native American/First Nations artists, activists and scholars

  • Art and art making focus of April 1 “Creating Nations” conversation series
  • Poets Simon J. Ortiz and Mark Turcotte and Arizona artist Tom GreyEyes among panelists
  • Daylong event concludes with a keynote address by Ortiz, followed by a reception  

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Award-winning poets Simon J. Ortiz and Mark Turcotte and visual artist Tom (Tomahawk) GreyEyes will be among the guest speakers and panelists participating in a daylong symposium exploring the work of contemporary Native American (U.S.) and First Nations (Canadian) artists, activists and scholars. 

The April 1 symposium will bring together Native American/First Nations artists, activists and scholars for a series of conversations on art and art making. It also will examine the current Native American studies initiatives at Northwestern University.

The “Creating Nations: Past, Present and Future” symposium will take place from 9 a.m. through 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 1, at Northwestern’s Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, 40 Arts Circle Drive, on the University’s Evanston campus.

Ortiz also will deliver a keynote address at 5 p.m. titled “History and Home: Indigenous Land, Culture and Community.” A 6:30 p.m. reception at the Block will follow. Admission is free and open to the public.

Panelists will discuss a variety of topics, including how the past shapes contemporary Native American/First Nations art making; how art builds tangible sovereignty; and whether art making is an act of prophesy or an invitation to imagine a new world.

  • In addition to poetry, Ortiz (Acoma Nation) also is a fiction writer, essayist and storyteller and the author of numerous books, including “Woven Stone,” “from Sand Creek” and “Beyond the Reach of Time and Change.”
  • Turcotte (Turtle Mountain Chippewa) is the author of four poetry collections, including “The Feathered Heart” and “Exploding Chippewas.” His work was included in the Poetry Society’s “Poetry in Motion” project and has appeared in national magazines and literary journals.
  • GreyEyes is an interdisciplinary artist from the Navajo Nation. His site-specific installations, print and projections convey anti-authoritarian political messages to the dominant society from the indigenous perspective on anti-colonization, decolonization and protest.

A full list of Creating Nations panelists and registration information is available online.

The symposium will be presented by the Colloquium on Indigeneity and Native American Studies (CINAS) in partnership with One Book One Northwestern, Office of the Provost, Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences, Center for the Writing Arts, International Program Development, Kaplan Institute for the Humanities, the Block Museum of Art and the departments of theatre and African American studies.

The symposium was organized by Northwestern doctoral candidate Bethany Hughes (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma), president of CINAS. Northwestern University’s commitment to enhancing the inclusion of Native Americans and the impact of Native American studies scholarship grew out of the John Evans Study Committee Report, completed in May 2014, and the Native American Outreach and Inclusion Task Force Report, released in November 2014. These reports provided valuable research, analysis, insight and recommendations to the University’s president and provost.

Northwestern’s Office of the Provost is leading the initiative on Native American Inclusion and reviewing and responding to recommendations of the Task Force, as well as stimulating additional ideas and directions through conversations across the University. 

April 1 Symposium Schedule 

8:30 a.m. Breakfast and Registration

9 a.m. Panel 1: Word

  • Panelists: poet Simon J. Ortiz (Acoma Nation); poet/writer Mark Turcotte (Turtle Mountain Chippewa); and Northwestern faculty member Kelly Wisecup, assistant professor of English and a specialist in Native American literature 

10:30 a.m. Break

10:45 a.m. Panel 2: Image

  • Panelists: artist Tom GreyEyes (Navajo Nation); scholar Julie Nagam (Anishinaabe/Métis); and artist and scholar Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha/Nde and Chicana), director of The Newberry Library’s D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies

12:15 p.m. Lunch

1:30 p.m. Panel 3: Sound

  • Panelists: Composer Jerod Tate (Chickasaw), performance poet Tezozomoc (Xicano/Nahuatl); and Northwestern’s John David Marquez (Chiricahua), associate professor of African American and Latino/a studies and a critical race/ethnic studies scholar

3 p.m. Break 

3:15 p.m. Panel 4: Body

4:45 p.m. Break

5 p.m. Keynote address by poet Simon J. Ortiz, “History and Home: Indigenous Land, Culture and Community”

6:30 p.m.  Reception

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