Returning The Gift XI

A Northwest Gathering

Native American Writers' Conference

Wednesday, October 9th to Sunday, October 13th, 2002

Tacoma, Washington

University of Washington, Tacoma Campus
Washington State History Museum, Tacoma
International Museum of Glass, Tacoma
The Evergreen State College, Olympia

Venues Include:
The Evergreen State College Longhouse (Saturday)
UWT Theatre, Classrooms and Convention Center
WSHM Auditorium and Foyer
International Museum of Glass Theater
The Temple Theater (Sponsored by UPS)
Sheraton Hotel Ballroom


The Returning The Gift Native American Writer's Conference is an annual event which has taken place at various locations across the United States and Canada. In honor of the first gathering at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma in 1992, all subsequent gatherings are called RTG's. The conference in Tacoma will be the eleventh such gathering.

RTGXI, A Northwest Gathering, is designed to be an energizing event aimed at inspiring new and young Native American writers from the northwest region and from across the Northern Hemisphere. It will also be a community outreach event which we hope will enlarge the audience for Native American writing. The conference committee has invited several nationally known Native American writers to attract both young and new Native American writers as well as the local community. There will be a large Reading Event on Thursday evening at the Temple Theater to feature these special guests.

RTGXI is unique in that we will have several sponsors that will bring more flexibility and range in programming and venues and allow wider distribution of costs and fees as well as broaden the audience. There will be three Open Venue events in which the Tacoma community will be invited to attend. Non-Native American students from the Sponsoring and other local colleges and universities who are attending Native American Literature classes will also be allowed to attend most venues alongside Native American writers at a reduced student fee.

In addition to normal conference activities, on Saturday, October 12th, we will "bus" the attendees to The Evergreen State College Longhouse for a day of Traditional Storytelling. Tina Kuckkahn, the Director of the Longhouse, will be our host. The MC will be Skokomish Longhouse Keeper and Spiritual Leader, Bruce Miller. We will feature a number of Northwest Native American storytellers as well as invite storytellers from Native Nations across the country and Canada to tell us their story.

This should be an informative event for the community and encourage northwest writers to become involved in the telling of the "real" Native American story of this country. We will wrap-up the event on Sunday with venues focusing on the Northwest writers.

About the Logo:

For those who are not familiar with Northwest stories, this logo is designed after the traditional story of "Raven Steals the Sun". It is difficult to say where the origins of this myth are, but there are many variations and versions of this story up and down the west coast. I chose this image because in this story Raven (Trickster) steals the Sun from the Old Man who had hidden it away to keep for himself, thus returning the Sun to the Sky and to the People who have been in the dark for a long time. In the process of holding the sun in his beak, Raven, who was white up to this point, had turned black from the soot. This accounts for his current state. There are variations that say Raven is sooty because he escaped through the smoke hole of the Old ManÕs House and got sooty on his way out. There is a version where Raven becomes the small needle of a pine tree and gets into the Old ManÕs daughterÕs nightly tea. She therefore becomes pregnant with Raven. Raven is then born into that world as the child of Old ManÕs Daughter who it seems is very pretty, which made the whole process bearable for Raven. Once inside the family, Raven is given the privileges of family and access to the family stories and goods. One day he asks the Old Man to show him where the light is hidden. Of course, the Old Man obliges Raven because Raven is his beloved grandson. Now that Raven knew where the Sun (also called The Light) was located, he crept into the Old ManÕs house one night when everyone was sleeping and stole the Sun. We may yet hear another version of this story on storytelling day at the Evergreen Longhouse in October.

The Raven design seems to be modern but the style comes from the forming of images on a basket by adding a different material to the outside, sometimes called imbrication. Imbrication is defined as overlaying different material, or a differently colored material (such as Bear Grass), to the outside of the basket to form a design. It is similar to inlay work. Thus the sharp angles and the appearance of a stylized image because of the bending and folding of the introduced material.

Philip H. Red Eagle,
Conference Chair

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