Exploring what it means to be Native American

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Over the next few months, we will join other community organizations in North Central Washington to explore what it means to be Native American, an initiative sparked by a traveling display of images taken by the famed photographer of Native Americans Edward S. Curtis that will visit the region later this year.

Several guest artists, musicians and speakers will give presentations at many of our libraries as part of the community conversation, called Beyond the Frame: To Be Native, that will explore Native American identity, race and resilience, art and culture.

The programs will include:

Steven Paul Judd: Artist

Native American artist Steven Paul Judd invites community members of all ages and abilities to hear about his own story and to contribute to a community-wide art piece on Sept. 19. He will host an open house from 3 to 6:30 p.m., where everyone can paint their own piece of a larger art work. Then starting at 6:30 p.m., Judd will deliver a presentation about his own racial identity and childhood quest for role models in pop culture. When he found very few, he began creating his own through art, developing such characters as Siouxperman, the Indigenous Hulk and a Care Bear named Pow-Wow Bear. Coming from Kiowa and Choctaw ancestry, Judd works with a variety of mediums — from acrylics to rubix cubes — and is known for his work that combines iconic Native American images and lore with modern pop art. He has a speciality of engaging community around collective art pieces.

  • Wenatchee Public Library: Open house 3 to 6:30 p.m., Sept. 19, program at 6:30 p.m.

Laurie Arnold: Indigenous Columbia Plateau Art

Laurie Arnold is an enrolled member of the Sinixt Band of the Colville Confederated Tribes and is Director of Native American Studies at Gonzaga University.

The Columbia Plateau has been an indigenous space for at least 10,000 years. For the last 200 years, it has been a co-occupied space, a region shared by descendants of ancestral Plateau peoples and the settler society which grew during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Today, Native American communities throughout the Columbia Plateau engage in cultural revitalization ranging from language restoration to writing tribal histories to creating art, including traditional and modern art forms.

Her talk aims to orient listeners to the ancestral past—lifeways, cultural practices, social formations—in order to interpret the present. The discussion will reflect on how changes during the last 200 years interrupted tribal lifeways but did not destroy them. It will consider how cultural continuity is present across the Columbia Plateau, if observers know how to recognize it. 

  • Brewster Public Library: 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4
  • Omak Public Library:11 a.m. Oct. 6
  • Tonasket Public Library: 5:30 p.m. Oct. 5

Emily Washines


Emily Washines, Yakama tribal member and scholar, talks about the intrinsic link between culture and food and the heartbreaking consequences to a community when those links to the past are broken. Washines uses the reintroduction of the Wapato plant as an example of the connection of indigenous foods to the health and culture retention of the Yakama tribe. In
her presentation, Washines talks about interviewing elders, visiting traditional food gathering grounds and ultimately reclaiming land that had grown wheat for 70 years back to its historical roots of prime wapato wetland.

Washines is a member of the Central Washington University board of trustees and president of the Yakima Environmental Learning Foundation. She is a lifelong learner of Ichiskiin Sinwit, the Yakama language.

Recently, Washines launched a native lifestyle empowerment business “Native Friends,” which focuses on language, history, culture and providing parenting resources.

  • Chelan Public Library: Oct. 16
  • Curlew Public Library: Oct. 17
  • Omak Public Library: 6 p.m. Oct. 15
  • Oroville Public Library: 5:30 pm. Oct. 18

Jessica Maucione: Writing in the Margins


Humans have evolved and maintained our integrity as a species because of our ability to collectively create and tell stories. But what happens when those stories divide, segregate, and even encourage violence among us? Understand the narratives of contemporary literature, film, and popular culture that separate the human species along manufactured racial lines.

In this talk, professor Jessica Maucione discusses texts that celebrate and explore white characters, in contrast to—and at the expense of—black and brown characters whose dehumanization is sometimes blatant, but often incredibly subtle. She talks about ways we can seek out narratives that counter this white-centered approach, with the goal of making us more responsible consumers of dominant narratives, better role models, and more connected human beings.

Jessica Maucione is associate professor of English and women’s and gender studies and has a PhD from Washington State University. She currently teaches at Gonzaga University where she also co-directs the Underrepresented Minority Post-doctoral Fellowship program. 

  • Grand Coulee Public Library: 6 p.m. Nov. 19
  • Quincy Public Library: 3 p.m. Nov. 4

Gary Stroutsos: Music and storytelling


Renowned flutist Gary Stroutsos is known for his haunting work on the Native American Flute, and is acknowledged to have made a significant contribution to the preservation of American Indian music and culture. Himself a Greek-Italian-American, Stroutsos has had the rare opportunity to journey into the indigenous cultures and communities of North America, where he learned how to play the Native American Flute. Lakota, Mandan-Hidatsa, Navajo and Salish Kootenai Elders asked him to set their songs to his flute, which has  been invaluable in the development of insight and the character of authenticity that his recordings embody.

Stroutsos has worked and recorded with many American Indian artists, including collaborating with Navajo flute maker Paul Thompson, a work which expresses the enduring legacy of the American Indian flute and its recent reintroduction into today’s society.

  • Chelan Public Library: Dec. 18
  • Leavenworth Public Library: 3 p.m. Dec. 19
  • Moses Lake Public Library: 3 p.m. Dec. 17
  • Wenatchee Public Library: 2 p.m. Dec. 20
NCRL is one of several NCW community partners in the Beyond the Frame initiative including:
Check out our Beyond the Frame NCW Facebook Page for all related programs and events in our region. Check out the Beyond the Frame website for all related programs, events, and partners both in NCW and in the Puget Sound.