MARQUETTE, Mich.—An anthology of creative works representing the contemporary American Indian experience in Michigan will be released in early December. It is titled Voice on the Water: Great Lakes Native America Now. A public reading at Northern Michigan University on Wednesday, Nov. 30, will showcase contributors and celebrate the book’s launch. The public is invited to attend this free event, which is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in 105 Jamrich Hall.
Voice on the Water features poetry, short stories, essays, photographs and artwork. It also includes a glossary of Anishinaabe terms and contributor biographies. NMU’s Center for Native American Studies and the NMU Press collaborated on the anthology, which was made possible by a $15,000 grant from the Michigan Humanities Council.
“We wanted this book to appeal to a broad audience and our hope is that it will also be used as a textbook from the junior high level through college,” said Grace Chaillier, adjunct professor at NMU and the project’s coordinator.
“Indians in general are not very well known as contemporary people in American society. If you ask students to draw depictions of them, it’s usually with tee-pees, bows and arrows and other images from the past. We want to introduce ourselves as Indian people, but also as contemporary Michigan residents so our Michigan neighbors will know us better.”
More than 200 pieces were submitted for consideration from within the state and beyond. A committee of campus scholars, along with a community elder and author, selected the 88 that are included in the book.
“The tough part was not being able to include all of them because there were so many quality submissions,” said April Lindala, director of the NMU Center for Native American Studies. “I’ve seen Native anthologies that revolve around themes, but this is the first that specifically relates to the contemporary experience in Michigan. We made a conscious effort to have a span of generations’ voices included, so there is a lot of youth representation.
“The seeds for this project were first planted several years ago, before I became director, but it’s extremely fulfilling to see it finally completed. It has been a labor of love for the last two years. The book is something tangible we can carry and hold close to our hearts and say, ‘We did this.’”
In addition to the Marquette public reading and book launch, a similar event will be held on Friday, Dec. 2, at the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways in Mt. Pleasant. Both are hosted by the Center for Native American Studies and the Communications and Marketing Office, which oversees the NMU Press.
Voice on the Water will be available at the NMU Bookstore or online at www.nmubookstore.com.