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Reimagining Theater with Ten Thousand Things
Michelle Hensley, founder of Ten Thousand Things Theater in Minneapolis, shares more than twenty years of her company’s nationally unique work bringing professional theater to those in prisons, homeless shelters, adult education centers, and rural areas, as well as the general public. More than a chronological history, All the Lights On is also about the radiant power of theater. In this articulate and compelling book, Hensley distills what nontraditional audiences, along with the conditions her artists must perform under to reach them, have taught her about Brecht, the Greeks, Shakespeare, musicals, and the essence of what is necessary to make vibrant and essential theater. Her experiences lead her to conclude that theater artists become better and the art form itself much richer when everyone is included in the audience. In Ten Thousand Things productions, people from very different economic classes sit next to each other in the round and often experience unexpected connections with each other. Hensley writes in the introduction, “Not only do we have a chance to experience the multiple viewpoints of many characters in the play, but with all the lights on, we are able to consider the differing viewpoints of the other audience members seated around the circle. It all serves to increase, just a little, the radiance of our world.”
A View from the Rez
The topics of the day fly fast and furious over Jim Northrup’s moccasin telegraph:The game wardens were playing catch and release with the Anishinaabeg spearers. one Shinnob went back for seconds. He got two tickets. . . .The powwow was great. I’d like to thank all those who worked to make this happen. as a Vietnam vet, I felt honored, but still think we should quitmaking veterans. . . .Hell just froze over because Fonjalackers got a per capita gambling payment. after almost fifteen years of high-stakes bingo and gambling casinos, we got a check for $1,500 each. . . . Now Mom can get that operation and I can send my kids to Harvard. I can also get that Ferrari I’ve always wanted. I’ll decide on the color after my round-the-world vacation. . . .Between 1989 and 2001, Indian Country saw enormous changes in treaty rights, casino gambling, language renewal, and tribal sovereignty. Jim Northrup, a thoroughly modern traditional Ojibwe man who writes a monthly syndicated newspaper column, the Fond du Lac Follies, witnessed it all. With humor sometimes gentle, sometimes biting, sometimes broad, these excerpts tally the changes, year by year, as he spears walleye, raises a grandson, harvests wildrice and maple sugar, fixes rez cars, attends powwows, and jets across the country and across the ocean to tell stories.
On June 27, 1868, Hole in the Day (Bagonegiizhig) the Younger left Crow Wing, Minnesota, for Washington, DC, to fight the planned removal of the Mississippi Ojibwe to a reservation at White Earth. Several miles from his home, the self-styled leader of all the Ojibwe was stopped by at least twelve Ojibwe men and fatally shot. Hole in the Day’s death was national news, and rumors of its cause were many: personal jealousy, retribution for his claiming to be head chief of the Ojibwe, retaliation for the attacks he fomented in 1862, or retribution for his attempts to keep mixed-blood Ojibwe off the White Earth Reservation. Still later, investigators found evidence of a more disturbing plot involving some of his closest colleagues: the business elite at Crow Wing.While most historians concentrate on the Ojibwe relationship with whites to explain this story, Anton Treuer focuses on interactions with other tribes, the role of Ojibwe culture and tradition, and interviews with more than fifty elders to further explain the events leading up to the death of Hole in the Day. The Assassination of Hole in the Day is not only the biography of a powerful leader but an extraordinarily insightful analysis of a pivotal time in the history of the Ojibwe people.“ An essential study of nineteenth-century Ojibwe leadership and an importantcontribution to the field of American Indian Studies by an author of extraordinaryknowledge and talent. Treuer’s work is infused with a powerful command overOjibwe culture and linguistics.”—Ned Blackhawk, author of Violence Over the Land: Indians and Empires in theEarly American West
Contemporary Writing by Hmong Americans
Of an estimated twelve million ethnic Hmong in the world, more than 160,000 live in the United States today, most of them refugees of the Vietnam War and the civil war in Laos. Their numbers make them one of the largest recent immigrant groups in our nation. Today, significant Hmong populations can be found in California, Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Michigan, and Colorado, and St. Paul boasts the largest concentration of Hmong residents of any city in the world.In this groundbreaking anthology, first- and second-generation Hmong Americans--the first to write creatively in English--share their perspectives on being Hmong in America. In stories, poetry, essays, and drama, these writers address the common challenges of immigrants adapting to a new homeland: preserving ethnic identity and traditions, assimilating to and battling with the dominant culture, negotiating generational conflicts exacerbated by the clash of cultures, and developing new identities in multiracial America. Many pieces examine Hmong history and culture and the authors' experiences as Americans. Others comment on issues significant to the community: the role of women in a traditionally patriarchal culture, the effects of violence and abuse, the stories of Hmong military action in Laos during the Vietnam War. These writers don't pretend to provide a single story of the Hmong; instead, a multitude of voices emerge, some wrapped up in the past, others looking toward the future, where the notion of "Hmong American" continues to evolve.In her introduction, editor Mai Neng Moua describes her bewilderment when she realized that anthologies of Asian American literature rarely contained even one selection by a Hmong American. In 1994, she launched a Hmong literary journal, Paj Ntaub Voice, and in the first issue asked her readers "Where are the Hmong American voices?" Now this collection--containing selections from the journal as well as new submissions--offers a chorus of voices from a vibrant and creative community of Hmong American writers from across the United States.
A Dakota Way of Life
“Far greater even than the loss of land, or the relentless coercion to surrender cultural traditions, the deaths of over six hundred children by the spring of 1864 were an unbearable tragedy. Nearly one hundred and fifty years after the U.S.–Dakota War of 1862, Dakota people are still struggling with the effects of this unimaginable loss.” Among the Dakota, the Beloved Child ceremony marked the special, tender affection that parents felt toward a child whose life had been threatened. In this moving book, author Diane Wilson explores the work of several modern Dakota people who are continuing to raise beloved children: Gabrielle Tateyuskanskan, an artist and poet; Clifford Canku, a spiritual leader and language teacher; Alameda Rocha, a boarding school survivor; Harley and Sue Eagle, Canadian activists; and Delores Brunelle, an Ojibwe counselor. each of these humble but powerful people teaches children to believe in the “genius and brilliance” of Dakota culture as a way of surviving historical trauma. Crucial to true healing, Wilson has learned, is a willingness to begin with yourself. Each of these people works to transform the effects of genocide, restoring a way of life that regards our beloved children as wakan, sacred.
The Assassination of Patrolman James Sackett
On May 22, 1970, responding to a bogus emergency call to help a pregnant woman, St. Paul patrolman James Sackett was killed by a sniper’s bullet fired from a high-powered rifle. The white officer’s assassination was the most shocking event in an era of shocking, racially charged events, punctuated by bombings at Dayton’s Department Store and elsewhere, police harassment and shootings of young black men, an alleged hijacking plot, and random acts of urban violence. a once peaceful, close-knit community, St. Paul’s summit-university neighborhood had reached a boiling point, heated by racism and rage. Award-winning journalist William Swanson masterfully walks the razor-edge between the grief and anger of a police force that lost one of its own and the deep-seated resentment and subsequent silence of a community that had many reasons not to trust the cops. Based on extensive interviews and archival research, Black White Blue recounts the details of one of the most extraordinary cold-case sagas in U.S. annals—a story featuring dozens of memorable characters, including a relentless “super cop,” an aggregation of conflicted informants, and a haunted woman who grew old with a terrible secret. The case culminates with the controversial trials, decades later, of Ronald Reed and Larry Clark. Black White Blue, is a powerful, true account of crime and punishment, time and memory, race, community, and personal relationships.
African American Writing from Minnesota
A rich Minnesota literary tradition is brought into the spotlight in this groundbreaking collection of incisive prose and powerful poetry by forty- three black writers who educate, inspire, and reveal the unabashed truth. Historically significant figures tell their stories, demonstrating how much and how little conditions have changed: Gordon Parks hitchhikes to Bemidji, Taylor Gordon describes his first day as a chauffeur in St. Paul, and Nellie Stone Johnson insists on escaping the farm for high school in Minneapolis. A profusion of modern voices— poet Tish Jones, playwright Kim Hines, and memoirist Frank Wilderson— reflect the dizzying, complex realities of the present. Showcasing the unique vision and reality of Minnesota’s African American community from the Harlem renaissance through the civil rights movement, from the black power movement to the era of hip- hop and the time of America’s first black president, this compelling anthology provides an explosion of artistic expression about what it means to be a Minnesotan.
It is possible . . .that literary historians of the future will decide that The Bones of Plenty was the farm novel of the Great Drought of the 1920s and 1930s and the Great Depression. Better than any other novel of the period with which I am familiar, Lois Phillips Hudson's story presents, with intelligence and rare understanding, the frightful disaster that closed thousands of rural banks and drove farmers off their farms, the hopes and savings of a lifetime in ruins about them.--New York Times Book Review"Hudson does a superb job of revealing the physical texture of farm life on the prairie--its sounds, smells, colors, sensations. Then she goes further, examining the spiritual texture as well. Her characters are bound to each other and to their land in a kind of harsh intimacy from which there is no relief. Weather, poverty, anger, and pride are the forces that drive them and ultimately wear them down. . . Like the best books of any era, it convinces us of its characters' enduring humanity, and surprises us, again and again, with the depth of emotion it makes us feel."--Minneapolis Star Tribune"At her best, Lois Phillips Hudson can make the American Ordeal of the 1930s so real that you can all but feel the gritty dust in your teeth."--Omaha World-Herald
The Civil War Letters of Thomas and William Christie
In 1861, as President Lincoln called for volunteers to defend the Union, Thomas Christie wrote to his father, voicing desires shared by many an enlistee: “I dowant to ‘see the world,’ to get out of the narrow circle in which I have always lived, to ‘make a man of myself,’ and to have it to say in days to come that I, too,had a part in this great struggle.”As it turned out, Thomas had an excellent partner in his quest: his brother William. Both signed on with the First Minnesota Light Artillery, working as “cannoneers,” responsible for loading and aiming big guns at the enemy. The First Minnesota saw action in major battles at Shiloh, Corinth, Vicksburg, and Atlanta. But the adventurers also endured the monotony of camp life, the hunger of poor supply lines, and, in William’s case, the challenges of enemy capture. The ups and downs, the doubts and thrills are recounted from their differing perspectives in this collection of letters to worried parents, a winsome sister, and a younger brother eager to join in the fight. Their vivid epistles are enhancedby the familial connection of brothers in arms who eventually did see the world—and returned home changed.