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Wednesday 14 October 2009

From "We Shall Remain" to "Operation teen book drop"

new national indigenous library services initiatives
Loriene Roy and Scott Smith
abstract (pdf); We Shall Remain librarians' website

Once American Indians were the whole of the now-USA population; now 0.1%.
Urban/homeland split due to 1950s/60s policy of relocation. Health, higher education, economics, traditions are compromised.

Initiatives to support libraries; this presentation is a status on these two projects.

"We Shall Remain"
Film is a rich media to show experience. Indigenous have been depicted in film for decades but are rarely involved in the production itself. "We Shall Remain" is a PBS show, the largest "American Experience" series produced. Aired in 5 90-minute episodes: After the Mayflower (depicting especially Wampanoag, Pequot, Nipmuc, Narragansett), Tecumseh's Vision (Shawnee), Trail of Tears (Cherokee), Geronimo (Chiricahua Apache), Wounded Knee (Oglala Lakota and Native peoples from tribes across the country). The last was able to draw on rich media coverage from the time.

Project also included a mentoring programme for Native film producers, and a website linked to many films created. Grants for states and cities to collaborate with local organisations to create public events, programming and to deepen public understanding of Native history.

Event kit for libraries gives ideas about how to organise culturally appropriate discussions. Storytelling events, reading circle ("The Plague of Doves"), exploring stereotypes, art contests and projects, discussion forums, film festival, guideleines for evaluating media resources (many preexisting guides for selecting books on Native topics; this is the first for evaluating film) - shipped to 15,000 public libraries. Won an award for design and communication. PDF copy available at We Shall Remain librarians' website. Two Facebook groups.

The "We Shall Remain" title image of the teepee and flag ("Nespelem", a photo by Bob Charlo of the Kalispel Nation, was taken at the annual powow on the Colville Reservation in Nespelem, WA in 1992): "To me it represents that we - Native people - are still here and still vibrant. We are not a conquered people. We are a contributing people." -- Bob Charlo

Highest number of states with events were Arizona, Texas, and Utah. Most popular were lectures/discussions (often about topics re the TV programmes), screenings (of previews or episodes (esp Trail of Tears) or local films by Native producers/authors, displays of books/photographs/other featuring Native history and/or authors, sometimes collaborating with local organisations); then performance and hands-on activities (weaving, basketry, games, musical and dramatic performances, crocheting afghans donated to local hospital).

Operation Teen Book Drop
Donation of 8,000 YA books to hospitalised teens in 2008-09 by publishers, organised by readergirlz, Guys Lit Wire, and YALSA. April 15th 2010 will take YA books to teens attending tribal schools on reservations. So far 27 schools registered - about 5000 teens. Featuring Lurline Waliana McGregor, Sherman Alexie, Joseph Bushac (sp?) - other names mentioned include Dean Koontz.

Coordinating national publicity plan to tribal newsletters and library community.

Will have live chat at Raising funds online.

Successes are result of collaboration, promotion, and planning.

Q: Why would schools not want to be involved?
A: Might have assumed would get a different title per student - instead it's one title for the whole community so they might feel it's too much work for a single title. Another issue is that publishers are saying "Take the books now" so storage space is an issue. Trying to locate local liaisons to help with work.

Q: Will it screen in New Zealand?
A: Needs to be picked up by tv; but can buy on PBS.