, Muskogee, OK

October 18, 2013

Five Tribes Story Conference today, Saturday

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Expect more than traditional Native American tales at this weekend’s Five Tribes Story Conference.

The conference brings together award-winning authors, artists, poets and musicians, said Mary Robinson, executive director of the Five Civilized Tribes Museum. The conference runs today and Saturday at Bacone College’s Center for the American Indian.

Registration for daytime events is $20, including lunch and materials. Dinner tickets can be purchased for an additional $10.

Free storytelling concerts will be held at 7 tonight and Saturday at the Bacone Chapel.

Robinson said the conference should attract “anyone interested in preserving family history or community history, aspiring writers, poets and musicians.”

“There are no green rooms at the conference,” Robinson said. “The entire time, the presenters are with the attendees, blending the lines between professional and novice.”

She said the event will be more low-key than high-brow.

“It brings people together for the common cause of preserving or saving stories we all have,” Robinson said.

 Author Joseph Bruchac will offer opening remarks at 9 a.m. today. Bruchac, who is of Abenaki Indian heritage, has written more than 120 books for children and adults. His best-selling books include “Keepers of the Earth: Native American Stories and Environmental Activities for Children.” He won an American Book Award for “Breaking Silence” and a Horn Book Honor for “The Boy who Lived with the Bears.”

Oklahoma author Rilla Askew will speak Saturday. Sessions begin at 9 a.m.

“Rilla has written several historic novels about the Five Tribes,” said Choctaw author Dr. Clara Sue Kidwell. “But her latest book is about the Tulsa race riots.”

That book, “Fire in Beulah,” received an American Book Award and the Myers Book Award from the Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights.

The conference will feature a variety of workshops on storytelling, writing and other topics.

Kidwell, former director of Indian Studies at the University of Oklahoma, will participate in a panel on writing historic-based novels and moderate a group about storytelling.

Kidwell, a Muskogee resident, said she plans to attend several panels and “just listen.”

“Schmooze, as they say,” Kidwell said.

Workshop presenters include award-winning storyteller and author Tim Tingle and Dr. Leslie Hannah, coordinator of the Cherokee Language Department and chair of the Department of Language and Literature at Northeastern State University.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or

If you go

WHAT: Fourth Annual Five Tribes Story Conference.

WHEN:  Daytime events, 9 a.m. today and Saturday. Storytelling concerts, 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Bacone Chapel.

WHERE: Center for the American Indian, Bacone College.

COST: Registration fee is $20 for daytime events, including materials, lunch and snacks. Traditional dinner is $10 and reservations are separate. Storytelling concerts are free.

SPONSOR: Five Civilized Tribes Museum.