David Treuer, author of the New York Times best-seller, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee: Native America from 1890 to the Present,” will speak at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 11, at the North Dakota Museum of Art on the UND campus.
On Tuesday, March 10, Treuer will speak at 10 a.m. at Cankdeska Cikana Community College at Fort Totten, followed by a lecture at 2 p.m. at Lake Region State College, Devils Lake.
At Wednesday’s event at UND, Treuer will read from and discuss his book, as well touch on the upcoming election and recent American history.
"In order to understand modern America, we need to know Native American history,” said Laurel Reuter, museum director.
The event is part of a campus-wide, Native American symposium, with significant lectures and exhibitions based in the visual arts, humanities, literature, Indian studies and Native American history, Reuter said.
Treuer, whose book was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal, is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota.
His talk will be followed by a 5 p.m. reception at the Museum of Art. Other guests include Lynne Allen, who will speak at 6 p.m. on her exhibition, “Consequences,” and Kim and Sue Fink.
Kim Fink, a retired UND faculty member, is back on campus to give a lecture and workshop in the UND Department of Art and Design where he taught for many years.
Conveying Native American history
Allen’s exhibit, “Consequences,” has just opened at the North Dakota Museum of Art. It accompanies another exhibition, “Celebrations,” which is drawn from the museum’s permanent collection and contains work that celebrates Native Americans in current times, Reuter said.
An internationally known print-maker, Allen has many images in her exhibition to honor the matriarchs in her family, all members of the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in South Dakota.
The matriarchs in her family were all sent away to government boarding schools, to realign their cultural heritage, Reuter said. Allen addressed the consequences in various ways in this exhibition.
“I am interested in making art that pictorially expresses a feeling, a sense of loss, a sense of injustice, sometimes with extreme force but often with a bit of humor,” Allen said. “My work is a narrative where the viewer decides on the outcome.”
After reading the journals of her great-grandmother, Josephine Waggoner, Allen -- who was raised as a white American -- began making objects, such as purses, arrow slings and moccasins. These are crafted from paper, cut and stitched to shape, and lacquered with shellac, or from recycled vellum printed with images copied from Waggoner’s journals.
“The objects and prints I make are meant to remind us of the spaces between domination and struggle, strength and weakness, wrongs committed and rights uncorrected,” Allen said. “Coming from a matriarchal Sioux Indian heritage, they hold specific resonance for me as an artist.”
One of the prints in the exhibition, “Ita ta win (Wind Woman),” is a portrait of Allen’s great-great-grandmother, born in Indian territory in 1830, Reuter said.
Allen’s great-grandmother Waggoner became the tribal historian for her Lakota people, Reuter said. Her manuscript, “Witness: A Hunkpapha Historian’s Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotas,” was written in the years spanning the 1920s to 1940s and published in 2013. It is the first history written by a woman of the Dakotas' Lakota and Dakota people, Reuter said. That book and Treuer’s books are available at the museum’s gift shop.
Coming from this matriarchal Sioux Indian heritage, Allen creates artwork that illustrates her ancestors’ "struggle and their undying spirit and grace in a turbulent time in their history,” Reuter said.
Allen is professor of art and director of the School of Visual Arts in the College of Fine Arts at Boston University and also has served as an art professor at Rutgers University and master printer and educational director at Tamarind Institute.
Her work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New York Public Library, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Allen, who lives in Brookline, Mass., has been awarded two Fulbright scholarships and two Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Research Grants.
Prize-winning author with northern Minnesota roots
Treuer, the son of Robert Treuer, an Austrian Jew and Holocaust survivor, and Margaret Seelye Treuer, a tribal court judge, grew up on Leech Lake in northern Minnesota.
After graduating from high school, he attended Princeton University where he wrote two senior theses -- in anthropology and creative writing -- and worked with Toni Morrison and Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet, respectively.
Treuer, who earned a doctorate in anthropology from the University of Michigan, has written the novels, “Little,” “The Hiawatha” and “Prudence,” and a nonfiction work, “Rez Life.”
He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, two Minnesota Book Awards and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Bush Foundation and the Guggenheim Foundation.
Treuer divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he is a professor of English at the University of Southern California.
A New York Times book review describes Treuer’s latest book, “The Heartbeat of Wounded Knee,” as “an informed, moving and kaleidoscopic portrait of Indian survival, resilience, adaptability, pride and place in modern life. Rarely has a single volume in Native American history attempted such comprehensiveness .… Ultimately, Treuer’s powerful book suggests the need for soul-searching about the meaning of American history and the stories we tell ourselves about this nation’s past.”