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K-State Today

October 18, 2021

Debbie Reese to present 'Indigenous Peoples: Past, Present and Future' lecture Oct. 20

Submitted by Sarah Harper

The College of Education and the English department are sponsoring a K-State First Book event, "Indigenous Peoples: Past, Present and Future," at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 20, through Zoom. The main speaker will be Debbie Reese, a scholar and educator who is tribally enrolled in Nambé Pueblo. This event is a discussion on native writers, modern storytelling and misrepresentations of Native peoples.

Reese is the founder of the American Indians in Children's Literature, a site that provides a critical analysis of Indigenous peoples in children's and young adult books. She is also a co-writer with Jean Mendoza of "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People." Reese will bring extensive knowledge and experience to this event. As an Indigenous person herself, she can also provide the best voice and perspective on how Indigenous peoples are represented in contemporary stories.

"Indigenous Peoples: Past, Present and Future" is about the words and images that Native peoples are cast, typically as a distant past, as people who vanished in the face of European civilization. But that is not necessarily the case and it misrepresents the truth. Native peoples and nations are still here, but non-Native writers leave them out of contemporary and futuristic stories. With native writers creating more native-themed stories, we have started to fill those gaps and push back against those misrepresentations. Throughout this event, you will hear the ways Native writers are breaking down those stereotypes and changing the way they are represented with their incredible ingenuity and brilliance.

"If I asked K-State students to name a Native character from 'The Hunger Games,' they wouldn't be able to do it because Suzanne Collins did not identify any of her characters as Native," Reese said. "K-State read her book in 2010 and 11 years later, your K-State First Book is another dystopian novel set in the future, 'The Marrow Thieves' by Cherie Dimaline. She's a Native writer and her characters are Native. Did it occur to Collins to include a Native character? We don't know the answer to that question, but we do know that most books — whether they are set in the past, present or future — leave us out or misrepresent us. Dimaline interrupts the status quo. You can, too. Come learn about problems in books you probably read during your childhood. And — learn about books by Native writers that you can hand to the young people in your lives. Let's all interrupt that status quo!"

Register for the lecture online

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