LeAnne Howe - Eidson Distinguished Professor,Department of English - University of Georgia, Athens
LeAnne Howe is an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. She writes fiction, poetry, screenplays, creative non-fiction, plays and scholarship that primarily deal with American Indian experiences. Her short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Fiction International, Callaloo, Story, Yalobusha Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere, and has been translated in France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark. She has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Ragdale Writers Residency, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts.
Her first novel Shell Shaker (Aunt Lute Books, 2001) received an American Book Award in 2002 from the Before Columbus Foundation. The novel was a finalist for the2003 Oklahoma Book Award, and awarded Wordcraft Circle Writer of the Year, 2002. Equinoxes Rouge, the French translation, was the 2004 finalist for Prix Medici Estranger, one of France’s top literary awards. Evidence of Red (Salt Publishing, UK, 2005) won the Oklahoma Book Award for poetry in 2006, and the Wordcraft Circle Award for 2006. Miko Kings: An American Indian Baseball Story (Aunt Lute Books, 2007) is the story of a Choctaw baseball pitcher Hope Little Leader, Justina Maurepas, his black-Indian lover, an all-Indian baseball team, and Ezol Day, a Choctaw postal worker who comes back across time to tell her story to a woman who should have been her granddaughter. Set in 1907 and 2006, the novel spans nearly 100 years and examines the roots of American baseball.
In 2006-2007 she was selected as the John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi at Oxford, MS. Spring 2003, she was the Louis D. Rubins Jr. Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University, VA. In 2004 she was the Regents Distinguished Lecturer at University of California, Riverside.
LeAnne is the screenwriter and on-camera narrator for the 90-minute PBS documentary Indian Country Diaries: Spiral of Fire that aired nationally in 2006. Part memoir, part tribal history the film takes Howe (Choctaw) to the North Carolina homelands of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians to discover how their fusion of tourism, community, and cultural preservation is the key to thetribe’s health in the twenty-first century. Along the way Howe seeks to reconcile her own identity as the daughter of a Cherokee father she never knew.
She is writer/co-producer of the documentary Playing Pastime: American Indian Fast-Pitch Softball, and Survival, with three-time Emmy award winner filmmaker, James Fortier.
LeAnne has read her fiction and been an invited lecturer in Japan, Jordan, Israel, Romania, and Spain. Founder and director of WagonBurner Theatre Troop her plays have been produced in Los Angeles, New York City, New Mexico, Maine, Texas, and Colorado. Her most recent one-act play, The Mascot Opera, A Minuet was commissioned by Mixed Blood Theater in 2008, Minneapolis. She performed in a one-woman show titled Choctalking on Other Realities for the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Urbana, Illinois in January 09. Her most recent accomplishment is winning the Tulsa Library Trust’s American Indian Words Award.
In 2010-2011 Howe received a Distinguished William J. Fulbright Scholarship and she lived in Amman, Jordan during the Arab Spring. She taught at the University of Jordan and researched a new novel set in 1913-1917, and the present. The story journeys from Allen, Oklahoma to Ottoman Beirut, to the Arab Revolt, to post-Ottoman Transjordan.
James M Fortier – Filmmaker
James is an enrolled member of the Pic River Ojibway First Nation, located in Ontario, Canada. Born in Nipigon, Ontario, raised in the Chicago area, James moved to the San Francisco to complete his college education in 1983.
James is an accomplished documentary filmmaker and Sundance Film Festival alum. Since 1995, his documentaries have focused primarily on Native American and environmental issues. He has won numerous awards including 3 Emmy Awards and most recently the DuPont Columbia Award for his contribution as episode producer and director for Bad Sugar, part of the national PBS health series Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick? James current documentary Gifts from the Elders is screening at several film festivals across the country and premiered on PBS in 2013. For over 25 years James has been a Director of Photography and Cameraman on thousands of productions for Fortune 500 Companies, broadcast and cable television, PBS and the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network in Canada. In 1995 James launched Turtle Island Productions, his production company focusing on Native American and First Nations stories and issues.
James’ first documentary, Alcatraz Is Not An Island screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 2001 and aired nationally on PBS and APTN in Canada. Other documentary works include the six hour PBS Ojibwe series Waasa Inaabidaa: We Look In All Directions, Voices for the Land, Indian Country Diaries: Spiral of Fire, Playing Pastime: American Indians, Softball, and Survival, Green Green Water, and two documentaries for the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, Pulling Together, and Gathering Together. In 2007 James was the Artist in Residence at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign where he conducted a four week video production lab for the American Indian Studies Department course, American Indian Stereotypes in Film, and presented several of his documentaries for students and faculty.