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TAHLEQUAH – Northeastern State University and the Center for Tribal studies is set to host the 45th Annual Symposium on the American Indian April 10 through 15. The Symposium’s theme is “Indian Givers: Indigenous Inspirations” and keynote speakers are set to discuss topics inspired by the lives and culture of American Indians. All keynote speakers will present at the University Center Ballroom.

April 12:

Jacklyn Roessel (Navajo) will present “Creative Indigeneity as Multiverse: Fusing Art and Leadership to Build Stronger Communities” as part of the Opening Ceremony which will begin at 9:30 a.m.

Roessel was born and raised in the Navajo Nation and holds a bachelor of arts in art history and a master in public administration from Arizona State University. Roessel was the inaugural recipient of the Arizona Humanities Rising Star Award and has been named one of Phoenix’s “100 Creatives You Should Know”. For the last decade she has also been a museum professional at the Heard Museum.

Roessel will discuss the ability of Indigenous People to transcend multiple perspectives — from being carriers of the traditions of their ancestors and contemporaries of today to working to create a bright future for their people. She will speak about how resiliency is key to the basis of building strong communities.

Tim Tingle (Choctaw) will present “Stories for Today- The Choctaw Way” from 1 p.m. to 1:50 p.m.

Tingle is an award-winning author and storyteller from Oklahoma. He received his master’s degree in English literature with a focus on American Indian studies from the University of Oklahoma. His first children’s book, “Crossing Bok Chitto,” was an Editor’s Choice in the New York Times Book Review and his critically acclaimed “How I Became a Ghost” won him the 2014 American Indian Library Association Youth Literature Award.

While Tingle’s books are inspired by memories of Choctaw elders, he believes today’s readers need new angles. With oral performance and readings, Tingle demonstrates his dedication to the relighting of the fire circle.

April 13:

Dr. Jeff Corntassel (Cherokee) will present “Re-envisioning Indigenous Nationhood: Pathways to Sustainable Self-Determination” as part of the General Session at 9:30 a.m.

Corntassel was recently named NSU’s 2017 Sequoyah Fellow. He received his doctorate from the University of Arizona and is currently an associate professor and graduate advisor in the School of Indigenous Governance at the University of Victoria. He was the first to represent the Cherokee Nation as a delegate to the United Nations Working Group on Indigenous Peoples and has published several books including “Forced Federalism” and “Conquest by Law,” and travels the country giving presentations on the revitalization of Indigenous communities and cultural sustainability.

Corntassel’s presentation will explore Indigenous pathways to sustainable self-determination with an emphasis on the restoration of land-based and water-based cultural practices. By drawing on several comparative examples of community resurgence, this presentation will provide unique insights into contemporary self-determination movements.

Also on April 13, Dr. Jenny Davis (Chickasaw) will present “Religion, Politics, and Money: Thinking Through the Social Factors in Language Revitalization” from 1 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.

Davis is an assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Campaign where she is the director of the Native American and Indigenous Languages Lab and an affiliate faculty of American Indian Studies and Gender & Women’s Studies. She has been the Henry Roe Cloud Fellow in American Indian Studies at Yale University and the Lyman T. Johnson Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics at the University of Kentucky.

Drawing on 10 years of research across multiple contexts including Chickasaw language revitalization efforts in many American states and teaching language activism strategies at the Collaborative Language Institute, this presentation will examine various factors that both aid and impede language revitalization movements.

April 14:

Devon Mihesuah (Choctaw) will present “How to Create an Outlaw: the Case of Nede Wade Christie” beginning at 9:45 a.m.

Mihesuah is the Cora Lee Beers Price Teaching Professor in International Cultural Understanding at the University of Kansas and holds a doctorate in American History from Texas Christian University. Her career has been devoted to the empowerment and well-being of indigenous peoples. Mihesuah served as Editor of the American Indian Quarterly for nine years. Her research, writing and speaking focuses on decolonization strategies and is one of the few indigenous writers who successfully writes both non-fiction and fiction.

Mihesuah’s presentation will explore Nede Christie’s position within the genre of outlaw literature and how he got there. The opposing stories of Christie as both a crazed and guilty outlaw and as an innocent martyr are, in Mihesuah’s view, merely comfort tales for those who need to be reassured about the valor of their heroes.

All Keynote Speakers will present in the University Center Ballroom. Symposium activities are free and the public is encouraged to attend. For more information about the Annual Symposium on the American Indian and a full schedule, please visit

Funding for this program is provided in part by a grant from Oklahoma Humanities (OH) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of OH or NEH.