Anthology to focus on Native experience

Amanda Cook

The NMU Center for Native American Studies and the NMU Press are seeking submissions for an anthology of literature and art.

The anthology will focus on addressing contemporary Indian identity in Michigan. Students and community members are encouraged to submit original, unpublished works for the book, which is under the working title “Who We Are Now: Storying Michigan Indigenes.”

Poems, creative nonfiction essays, profiles, memoirs, excerpts from longer works, cartoons, comic strips, drawings, illustrations and photographs may all be offered for consideration.

“We expect submissions from elementary school students to community elders. We expect to see short stories to cartoons,” said April Lindala, director of the Center for Native American Studies. The project’s creators hope that by having a wide range of media included in the book, from people of all ages, they will capture a broad picture of the contemporary Native American experience.

Grace Chaillier, an adjunct assistant professor in the Center for Native American Studies, is coordinating the project. She composed a Michigan Humanities grant in order to make the anthology possible. The monetary grant is from the Michigan Humanities Council, which awards public humanities and cultural programs.

Chaillier has spoken with many Native American community members who agree that it is important for these stories to be heard and passed from generation to generation.

“We’re hoping that Indians and non-Indians alike will hear the voices of contemporary Indians through the pages of this book, Chaillier said.

“The NMU Press hasn’t produced a book in some years now. It’s good for Northern, a book in a line of many important books.” The final product will be distributed to libraries and universities in Michigan, as well as the federally recognized Native American tribes in the state.

“We’re hoping that the book is used in classrooms as a resource,” Chaillier said.

Lindala has been looking forward to the project for a while. “It was a dream to do this project for some time, but because of limited resources, the Center was unable to move forward until this grant was received,” she said.

“I cannot speak on behalf of the entire Native American community, but I believe it to be an important avenue for Native people to showcase their voice, celebrate their experience and reflect on who they are,” Lindala said.

Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of seven people: one community member and six NMU scholars, including Lindala and Chaillier. To be accepted, submissions must reflect the Native American experience in Michigan in the 21st century. Along with meeting the criteria listed in the call for submissions, Chaillier says she will be looking for originality. A majority vote among the panel will determine which works make it into the book. Those whose works get published will receive two copies of the finished book.

The Center for Native American Studies suggests many possible topics including the land, the lakes, storytelling, the power of words and symbols, persistence of traditional arts and ways of life, and ceremonies and rituals. Humorous submissions are welcomed. More information on the submission requirements and suggested topics can be found at www.nmu.edu/nativeamericans.

Submissions may be e-mailed to Grace Chaillier at [email protected] or mailed to the NMU Center for Native American Studies at 1401 Presque Isle Ave. The deadline for submissions is Friday, Oct. 15.