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Book discussion series looks at American Indian writers

BY ROD JONES, Oklahoma City University Modified: August 29, 2012 at 1:29 pm •  Published: August 29, 2012

The “Let’s Talk About It, Oklahoma” book discussion series at Oklahoma City University will open with “Fools Crow” by James Welch at 7 p.m. Sept. 11 in the Walker Center room 151 at NW 26 and Florida Avenue. The discussion is free to the public.

The series is funded by grants from the Oklahoma Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Noted for its use of language, “Fools Crow” is set among the Blackfeet Indians in northwestern Montana. Welch reconstructs customs and a way of life that has been handed down for centuries as the tribe confronts the onslaught of the white man, manifest destiny and smallpox.

The title character must go on a vision quest to find his personal powers and become an adult. Along the way, Welch shows the difference between Indian and non-Indian beliefs.

Harbor Winn, director of OCU’s Center for Interpersonal Study through Film and Literature, will facilitate the discussion. At each session in the series, a humanities scholar makes a presentation on the book in the context of the theme.

Small group discussions follow with experienced discussion leaders. At the end, all participants come together for a brief wrap-up.

Winn explained that the purpose of this season’s series is to explore the true and various cultures of Native American tribes, and perhaps unravel some popular misconceptions.

“In this series, Native American novelists update the stories of tribes that continue to live in their home territories,” Winn said. “Movies like ‘Dances with Wolves’ and ‘Geronimo’ end with bedraggled Indians riding into the sunset. But what really happened to them? This series explores that question.”

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