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Countering stereotypes: ‘Indigenous Storytelling’ series showcases Native voices in literature, arts

“Super Indians” by Arigon Starr.

Bringing stories to the masses.

That’s the goal of the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture as it continues its virtual speaker series, “Indigenous Storytelling in Literature and Arts.”

The series opened earlier this month with Dr. Debgbie Reese (Nambé Owingeh).

“Children are inundated with stereotyped and biased images of Native people in the fiction, nonfiction and textbooks they read. As a result, Native children’s self-esteem is harmed and non-Native children are miseducated,” Reese says. “Recent years have shown a small but steady increase in books by Native writers that counter harmful imagery, though there is still significant work to be done.”

The conversations are an extension of MIAC’s ongoing work with local schools and educators and are meant to serve as a resource for New Mexicans to learn about Indigenous communities throughout the Southwest.

The museum’s work is expanding the knowledge and understandings of Indigenous voices in literature and the arts.

“We are enthusiastic to host such an accomplished group of speakers,” says MIAC Executive Director Della Warrior (Otoe-Missouria). “This series is timely for MIAC as we continue to develop programs focused on showcasing the diversity of Indigenous educators and artists.”

The series continues with the following speakers:

Melissa Henry

• 1 p.m. Dec. 3 – Melissa Henry (Navajo), spent her childhood herding sheep, caring for livestock and playing in the forest. Today, she makes innovative Diné-language films that appeal to people of all ages and cultural backgrounds. Often featuring her pets and animals on her family’s land on the Navajo reservation, Henry’s films employ voice-overs to animate the thoughts and meanderings of the animals through the reservation landscape. Her short animated film “This Is a Hogan” was produced for MIAC as part of the coming renovated “Here, Now and Always” exhibit. Henry has received a National Geographic All Roads Seed Grant and a Sundance Institute Fellowship and has won the People’s Choice award in the PBS Online Film Festival.

Arigon Starr

• 1 p.m. Dec. 10 – Arigon Starr (Kickapoo) is a singer, actor, playwright and comic book writer known for her one-woman shows. She has won numerous awards for her music, art and plays, including the Native American Music Awards for Best Independent Recording in 1999 and Songwriter of the Year in 2007. In 2016, Starr edited the graphic novel “Tales of the Mighty Code Talkers,” which was named one of the American Library Association’s 2018 Great Graphic Novels for Teens. Starr has said that her writings are intended to counter negative Indigenous stereotypes. She is the first Native American woman to have her own record label, Wacky Productions, and has created four albums under the label.

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