March 11 — There was a reason for Haskell Indian Nations University students to stay in Lawrence over spring break. Lawrence welcomed acclaimed Ojibwe author Louise Erdrich.
Erdrich graced HINU’s Auditorium stage with a reading of her latest novel, The Night Watchman, which is based on her grandfather and his fight against Native dispossession. This incredible event was made possible through the collaboration of HINU, the Raven Bookstore, and Lawrence Public Library.
Erdrich has published over two dozen books, many of which are bestsellers and award winners. In 2015, Erdrich was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award for the Writing of Fiction by the Library of Congress to honor her work. In addition to writing, she promotes learning and tradition at her bookstore, Birchbark Books, in Minnesota.
Erdrich’s work is particularly impactful for HINU students, as she often writes based on personal experiences. As an author of poetry, short stories, and novels, she has brought life and attention to Native American literature throughout her career. From poetry, children’s stories, or complex novels, there is something for every reader in Erdrich’s canon.
Elementary education majors may be interested in her Birchbark House books in particular. This series of children’s chapter books focus on an Ojibwe family and their experiences during the chaos of the 1800s. Fans of dystopian fiction should try Future Home of the Living God, the story of an Ojibwe woman amid the chaos of a destroyed Earth. Readers of Erdrich’s adult work should be aware; she does not shy away from difficult topics; Her 2012 National Book Award winner, The Round House, centers around the sexual assault of an Ojibwe woman.