Friday, March 10, 2006

Native Expressions

Today, our Honoring Generations community was involved in sponsoring our first half-day Native Expressions conference, "a public event featuring and celebrating indigenous scholars, authors, creators, and thinkers." Karen Buller (Comanche), President and CEO of NITI (the National Indian Telecommunications Institute) lead off with a talk about Native peoples and IT. She described the status of the digital divide in Indian country as an analog divide; telephone penetration for Native households is still less than 65 percent, compared with over 98 percent across the general U.S. population. She then provided examples of NITI's work with language preservation, cultural curriculum development, virtual museums, economic development, and policy initiatives.

Roy Boney, Jr. (Cherokee) is an illustrator, graphic novelist, and animator. He currently is the Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation Fellow in the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock where is completing work toward a master's of art degree. He provided examples of Native language claymation projects with tribal schools. He repeats and expands his talk tomorrow in a hour and a half long presentation at the Will Hampton Branch Library of the Austin Public Library.

The afternoon program brought a welcoming audience to hear poets Jacob C. Jimenez (Hispanic) and Heid Erdrich (Ojibwe) read. Jacob is an up-and-coming poet from San Antonio and Heid is on the faculty of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. Jacob read from his works in progress. Heid read from her most recently published collection, The Mother's Tongue, and previewed a collection under development.

We appreciate the opportunity to meet, connect, and strengthen our community of indigenous educators and writers.