Happy to share this news release issued by Itasca Community College. David Treuer will present “Writing Rez Life–American Indian Life in the 21st Century” at 7 pm Wednesday, September 17, at the Grand Rapids Area Library.
For over a decade, Itasca Community College’s Associate in Arts Program has been hosting a “shared-text project” in which students in a range of classes read the same provocative book and take advantage of events that are also open to the public. This year students in over a dozen classes are reading David Treuer’s Rez Life: An Indian’s Journey Through Reservation Life, a strikingly original blend of history, journalism, and personal narrative exploring life on Indian reservations today.
Students and interested community members studying the book have two unique opportunities to delve deeper into the book’s themes this semester. First, David Treuer will be spending two days in Grand Rapids, visiting classes at the college, meeting with community and campus groups, and giving two talks, both of which are open to the public. Treuer will present “Writing Rez Life–American Indian Life in the 21st Century” at 7pm Wednesday, September 17, at the Grand Rapids Area Library, and at 1pm Thursday, September 18, in the newly renovated Chucker Auditorium in Davies Hall at Itasca Community College. Generous support from the Blandin Foundation and a partnership with the Grand Rapids Area Library have made Treuer’s visit possible.
Second, students and the public can view the Why Treaties Matter exhibit, which ICC’s Director of Multicultural Affairs Harold Annette was instrumental in bringing to northern Minnesota with the support of the Blandin Foundation, the Northland Foundation, and other generous sponsors. This exhibit of the history and significance of treaties between the US government and Indian tribes is on display in front of the Itasca Community College library for the month of September.
David Treuer is an Ojibwe Indian from Leech Lake Reservation in northern Minnesota. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, the 1996 Minnesota Book Award, and fellowships from the NEH, Bush Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation. He divides his time between his home on the Leech Lake Reservation and Los Angeles, where he is a Professor of Literature at USC.
Rez Life, the award-winning novelist’s first foray into nonfiction, uses Treuer’s storytelling skills to look at two centuries of national history through the lens of memorable individuals. Among others, we meet a Squaw Lake couple whose claim that Itasca County did not have the right to collect property taxes went to the US Supreme Court, a Red Lake conservation officer, rough-talking Mille Lacs band members netting walleyes, and Treuer’s mother, a tribal judge presiding over a Bois Forte courtroom. These people and others featured in the book are ordinary Minnesotans whose stories represent struggles that are national in scope and have their roots in generations of history. Through them, Treuer enters into eye-opening accounts that help readers understand the complexities of treaty rights, other legal issues, social problems on reservations, and the striking hopefulness of movements for language and cultural preservation. “I was stunned by what I learned from this book,” commented Associate in Arts Program Coordinator Teresa Alto.
The Associate in Arts Program is the largest program at Itasca Community College, graduating half of Itasca’s students, most of whom transfer to earn a four-year degree. The AA degree provides a broad liberal arts and science education that satisfies general education requirements at every public university in the state of Minnesota. ICC offers a vibrant campus life and student organizations, interdisciplinary events and speakers, and study-abroad opportunities. Small class sizes and personal attention allow students to work closely with counselors and faculty to explore their interests. The Associate in Arts Program is one of the reasons ICC is the best place to start.