June 21, 2011

NEA award for "Native Daughters" project

UNL professor to receive civil rights award

By Mark AndersenSlowly, but deliberately, earn the trust of Native American people, never promise the impossible, and "let native people participate in their story as fully as possible," said author and journalist Joe Starita.

Then, stand aside.

"Get out of the way of the narrative," he said of his writing. "Let their story come to the reader as directly as possible without my fingerprints."

Starita hopes to do the same in Chicago on July 1, by accepting a civil rights award from the National Education Association on behalf of Native women whose vital histories mostly have been neglected.

"As a teacher and writer, Joe Starita shares the unsung achievements of Native Americans," said association President Dennis Van Roekel. "His books are a must-read to better understand Native Americans, their heritage and their contributions to American life and history."

Starita is the author of "I Am a Man: Chief Standing Bear's Journey for Justice," the 2010 One Book--One Lincoln selection, and "The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge: A Lakota Odyssey," a 1996 Pulitzer nominee.

It is native women who as poets, leaders, teachers, warriors and mothers have kept their culture going, Starita said.

"A nation is not conquered until the hearts of its women lay on the ground," he said, quoting a Northern Cheyenne proverb.

"I want to accept this award on behalf of all the Winona LaDukes, Wilma Mankillers, Vida Stablers and Judi gaiashkiboses."
Comment:  In addition to the main subject, a few things are worth noting here:

  • That I Am a Man was read citywide in Lincoln, Nebraska.

  • That The Dull Knifes of Pine Ridge was a Pulitzer nominee.

  • How to earn the trust of Natives when you're a non-Native writing about them.

  • For more on the subject, see Standing Bear's Increasing Exposure and Nebraskans to Read Standing Bear Book.

    No comments: