Monday, August 01, 2022

Acknowledging the 1992 Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers

The "Returning the Gift" (RTG) conference that took place in Norman Oklahoma in July 1992 is widely recognized by Native writers and scholars for being an early and significant gathering. Geary Hobson and Barbara Torralba Hobson are among the founders of that literary festival. Here's a photo of the people who attended:

When I look over the names of people who were there, I see many who were, and are now, writing for children: Joy Harjo, Jeanette Armstrong, Bernelda Wheeler, Simon J. Ortiz, and Eric Gansworth. By 1992, Wheeler and Ortiz had written several books for children. Wheeler's Where Did You Get Your Moccasins is one of my all-time favorite books! It came out in 1986. 

In 2017, RTG had its 25th anniversary gathering. I attended, gave a presentation on children's books, and moderated a panel of four Native writers who have been writing for children: Marcie Rendon, Traci Sorell, Tim Tingle, and Art Coulson. At that gathering, the 40th anniversary edition of The People Shall Continue was launched. Written by Simon J. Ortiz and illustrated by Sharol Graves, it too is among my all-time favorite books. 

Celebrating and acknowledging key moments is important. I'll add 1992's gathering to AICL's list of Milestones.