Indigenous lecture by Debbie Reese, activist, scholar and critic

Debbie Reese / Courtesy photo

Debbie Reese, a scholar, critic, and publisher of the blog American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL), is the featured speaker in the fall 2016 Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community. Reese will present "Some Truths, but Lots of Lies: Indigenous Peoples in Children's Literature." The lecture is free of charge and open to the public.

An on-campus, meet-and-greet reception with Reese will take place at the Labriola Center in Hayden Library also that day at 10:30 a.m.

Reese started the nationally and internationally acclaimed AICL blog in 2006 — with the teachings of her elders and Native scholars in mind—when she was a professor in the American Indian Studies program at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "Those teachings," she explains, "are ones that tell us that the work we do is not for ourselves but for our communities and their well-being." For her, that meant making her research and writing easily and readily accessible to those who typically have the least access to the work of academics.

Reese was born at the Indian Hospital in Santa Fe and grew up on the Nambé Pueblo reservation, learning tribal dances and ceremonies from family members and elders. She earned a teaching degree from the University of New Mexico and taught elementary school in Albuquerque before moving to Oklahoma to work on a Master's degree in school administration.  

Later, while completing her doctorate in education at the University of Illinois In the early 1990s, Reese worked alongside Native students and allies to establish a Native American House at the university. Soon after that, she helped launch an American Indian Studies program there. 

Reese has written for publications such as Horn Book Magazine, School Library Journal, and Language Arts, the latter published by the National Council for Teachers of English. She is regularly invited to give lectures and workshops around the U.S. and has recently begun using technology to work with libraries and colleagues in Canada.

Reese's book chapters and journal articles are frequently re-printed and used across several disciplines—including education, library science, and English. But it is her widely known blog that is having the most impact on children's literature; many feel that her writings are bringing much needed change, including innovations particularly approved by tribal communities, to depictions of Indigenous peoples in children's books.

The Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community at Arizona State University addresses topics and issues across disciplines in the arts, humanities, sciences, and politics. Underscoring Indigenous American experiences and perspectives, this series seeks to create and celebrate knowledge that evolves from an inclusive Indigenous worldview and that is applicable to all walks of life.

ASU sponsors include: American Indian Policy Institute; American Indian Studies Program; Department of English; School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies; Indian Legal Program in the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law; Labriola National American Indian Data Center; School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; Women and Gender Studies in the School of Social Transformation. The Heard Museum is our community partner.

Kristen LaRue
Department of English
Heard Museum