AWP | We the Indigenous: A Storytelling Celebration
Seattle is the only major city in the United States named after a native chief. It has grown from a tribal center and logging town into an international engine of economic and cultural innovation. And since 2017, a City of Literature.
Storytellers have always shaped how the world sees Seattle. The Coast Salish peoples have lived here for 10,000 years, and there is a clear line from carvings and oral stories to the modern work of Klallam poet Duane Niatum and James Welch’s novels. Our writing heritage is guided by a sense of place, especially with respect to the natural world and how it shapes our existence.
Native storytelling traditions set our region on a narrative path that has coalesced into our identity as a center of creativity. It is time to celebrate the ingenious work of award winning and acclaimed Indigenous writers and storytellers in one spectacular night. Their creativity, ingenuity and talent has played an integral part into why UNESCO has designated Seattle as a City of Literature.
Featured writers and storytellers include:
Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest (Lhaq'temish Nation)
Queer poet and folk artist Arianne True (Choctaw, Chickasaw)
American Book Award winner Laura Da' (Eastern Shawnee)
Memorious co-founder and poet Rob Arnold (Chamoru)
Pacific Review editor and poet Scott Bentley
Truman Capote Literary fellow Sara Marie Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo)
Pacific Northwest Book Award winner Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe (Upper Skagit, Nooksack Indian Tribe)
This event, a collaboration between We the Indigenous founder D.A. Navoti (Hopi, Zuni, Akimel O’otham, Yavapai-Apache) and Seattle City of Literature, will be hosted by Brandi Douglas (Puyallup Tribe), with a welcoming and land acknowledgement from Ken Workman (Duwamish Tribe).
Doors open at 5:30 PM and small snacks will be provided by Native Soul Cuisine until supplies run out. The House bar will be open to serve alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks for purchase.
Sponsored by Seattle City of Literature, We the Indigenous, and Hugo House.
Admission is offered on a sliding scale, from $0-$25. Revenue from ticket sales directly supports Hugo House's mission to provide space for all to read words, hear words, and make their own words better. We encourage you to pick a ticket price that is right for you.
Please note: Our venue can accommodate seating for 150 attendees. Pre-registration to this event is strongly encouraged, and will be open until 1 hour before the start of the event. After this, walk-in registration will be available at the door.
To learn more about AWP Conference & Bookfair, visit their website here.
To learn more about Hugo House’s AWP events, visit our AWP page here.
Laura Da’ is a poet and teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is Eastern Shawnee. She is a recipient of fellowships from the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, Artist Trust, Hugo House, and the Jack Straw Writers Program. Her first book, Tributaries, won the 2016 American Book Award. Her newest book is Instruments of the True Measure (University of Arizona Press, 2018). Go to www.laurada.com for more information.
Brandi Douglas (She/They) is a member of the Puyallup Tribe, a descendent of the Muckleshoot and Nooksack Nations and is Mexican and Black American, who currently resides on traditional Puyallup Tribal territory in Tacoma, WA. They are a published writer, having been featured in We Need A Reckoning, an anthology featuring the voices of women and non-binary people of color. Brandi owns Mending Matriarch, where they produce print goods that promote healing, community, humor and the anti-hustle lifestyle. Additionally, they co-operate Bella & Belle, a creative design studio, alongside their brother. Brandi currently works in the communications department at NDN Collective, an Indigenous power-building organization.
Sara Marie Ortiz
Sara Marie Ortiz is a Seattle-based writer of creative nonfiction, poetry, and mixed-genre work. She is an enrolled citizen of the Pueblo of Acoma, a graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts (BFA in creative writing) and Antioch University Los Angeles (MFA in creative writing). She has studied formally writing, law, Native studies, theater, and film. She has published widely, has been featured in such publications as the Kenyon Review, the Florida Review, Ploughshares, and she has presented widely from her beloved birthplace in New Mexico, throughout the Pacific Northwest, and all the way to Johannesburg, South Africa. Sara Marie is also a passionate Native educator and advocate in the realm of Native arts, culture, literature, tribal languages, education, and community. She currently serves as the Native Education Program Manager for Highline Public Schools in Burien, Washington, loves watching movies and listening to all kinds of music (especially chilled electronic, old timey blue grass, neo-Americana, folk, and hip hop), and has a fluffy orange cat named Mr. Pickles.
Rob Arnold is a Chamoru poet whose work has appeared in Ploughshares, Hyphen, Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, RED INK, Yes Poetry, The Ocean State Review, Peripheries, and The Volta, among others. His poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and have received support from the Somerville Arts Council, the Jack Straw Cultural Center, and Artist Trust. Rob has two decades of experience in literary publishing and related positions, most recently as the Interim Executive Director for Hugo House. Previously, he co-founded Memorious, and has worked with Ploughshares, Fence Books, Beacon Press, PEN New England, The National Poetry Series, the National Endowment for the Arts, Grid Books, and as a literary agent for Aevitas Creative Management.
Arianne True (Choctaw, Chickasaw) is a queer poet and folk artist based in Tacoma, WA. She teaches and mentors youth poets around Puget Sound and moonlights as a copyeditor. Arianne has received fellowships from Jack Straw, Hugo House, and Artist Trust, and is a proud alum of Hedgebrook and of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She was recently the Seattle Repertory Theater’s first Native Artist-in-Residence. You can find more of her work collected online at ariannetrue.com.
Sasha taqʷšəblu LaPointe is from the Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian Tribes. Native to the Pacific Northwest, she draws inspiration from her coastal heritage as well as her life in the city. She writes with a focus on trauma and resilience, ranging topics from PTSD, sexual violence, the work her great grandmother did for the Lushootseed language revitalization, to loud basement punk shows and what it means to grow up mixed heritage. Sasha teaches creative writing at the Native Pathways Program at Evergreen and is a mentor for Seattle’s youth poet laureate program. Her memoir, Red Paint, has received starred reviews from Kirkus and Shelf Awareness and is available through Counterpoint Press. Her collection of poetry, Rose Quartz, is available through Milkweed Press. Her essay collection, Thunder Song, is forthcoming from Counterpoint Press.
Rena Priest is a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She is the incumbent Washington State Poet Laureate and Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. Priest is also the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award, an American Book Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Nia Tero, The Vadon Foundation, and Indigenous Nations Poets. She has authored three books and edited two anthologies. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Learn more at renapriest.com.