The UNM Institute for American Indian Research and The Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies host the 2012 Indigenous Book Festival, Thursday – Friday, April 12-13, to celebrate contemporary Native American writers, scholars and storytellers in the growing field of indigenous studies. Except for the $7 charge for the Friday keynote luncheon, all events at the book festival are free and open to the public.

Literary figures from across the region will take part in the two-day event, the only book festival in the nation to focus specifically on Native American writers. The 2012 Indigenous Book Festival builds upon the success of the inaugural book festival on the UNM campus in November 2010 and has expanded to include creative writing workshops for high school students.

Events for the festival include a literary reading by renowned Dine poet Luci Tapahonso on Friday, April 13 from 3:30-4:30 p.m. Tapahonso, from Shiprock, joined the UNM English Department in January 2012. She is the author of several books of poetry and stories, including Saanii Dahataat: The Women Are Singing (1993) and A Radiant Curve (2008). Tapahonso is the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of America in 2006.

The keynote luncheon on April 12 features Luana Ross, president of Salish Kootenai College. Ross has served as a professor of American Indian Studies and women's studies at the University of Washington as well as the Berkeley and Davis campuses of the University of California. She is the author of the award-winning study of women in prison, Inventing the Savage: The Social Construction of Native American Criminality (1998), and has been affiliated with the Center for Global Indigenous Health as well as the Boarding School Healing Project.

The 2012 Indigenous Book Festival also features creative writers Evelina Zuni Lucero (Isleta/Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), Eddie Chuculate (Muscogee), and Allison Hedge Coke (Cherokee/Huron), as well as students with the Spoken Word Club at Santa Fe Indian School.

Additional events include a panel on "Critical Indigenous Studies" with Jodi Byrd (Chickasaw), president of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures and assistant professor of English and American Indian Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne; and James Riding In (Pawnee), an Associate Professor of American Indian Studies at Arizona State University.

A series of panels both days feature key speakers on a range of topics, such as environmental sustainability with Gordon Henry, Jr. (Anishinabe), of the Native American Institute at Michigan State University; and Malcolm Benally (Dine) a community coordinator for Kayenta Township at the Navajo Nation. Other presentations will address indigenous intellectual history, graphic novels and fiction writers.

James Bartleman, former lieutenant governor of Ontario and current chancellor of the Ontario College of Art and Design, will address forms of cultural memory Thursday, April 12 from 9:30-10:45 a.m.

For information contact: mesa@unm.edu and the entire program schedule is at Indigenous Book Festival.

Media contact: Carolyn Gonzales (505) 277-5920; email: cgonzal@unm.edu