This month we present a double feature of The Simon Ortiz and Labriola Center Lecture on Indigenous Land, Culture, and Community from our 2016 spring and fall lectures recorded at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.
Navajo Identity through Global Projects
Our first video features Manuelito Wheeler (Navajo) presenting "Navajo Identity through Global Projects" recorded March 24, 2016.
Director of the Navajo Nation Museum, Wheeler spoke about how he and his wife, Dr. Jennifer Wheeler, came up with the idea to dub a film into Navajo. He spoke about the process of dubbing both "Star Wars" and "Finding Nemo" into Navajo, working with the film studios for permissions, translating the scripts, hiring the actors and dubbing the voices. His talk includes video clips from both films, and the Labriola Center has both "Star Wars" and "Finding Nemo" in Navajo, if anyone would like to view them.
Some Truths, but Lots of Lies: Indigenous Peoples in Children's Literature
Our second video from our fall lecture features Debbie Reese presenting "Some Truths, but Lots of Lies: Indigenous Peoples in Children's Literature" recorded Oct. 20, 2016.
Debbie Reese (Nambé Pueblo), activist scholar and critic, publishes the nationally and internationally acclaimed blog American Indians in Children's Literature (AICL). Dr. Reese states: “"I believe the books Native students read in school play a significant role in how Native students fare. Teachers and librarians have a role to play, too, in the success of Native students. For me—and I hope for you—that means selecting books that accurately portray Native people and our nations." Reese spoke about Indigenous authors who write those accurate books and how publishers (and authors) are beginning to respond to social media campaigns for more accurate and wide-ranging representations of all children in literature.
About the speakers
Born and raised on the Navajo Nation, Manuelito Wheeler is currently the Director of the Navajo Nation Museum in Window Rock, Arizona. Since taking this position in 2008, he has worked with staff to see the completion of numerous exhibits which are 100 percent Native-built from concept, curation and creation. Along with this, he has led his team of eight in creating innovative projects that influence and preserve Navajo culture.
In the pursuit of native language preservation, the Navajo Nation Museum has partnered with major motion picture studios like Lucasfilm Ltd., Walt Disney Pictures and Deluxe Studios to dub popular movies into the Navajo language. Making these projects a reality has been a challenging but rewarding experience. Currently the museum is completing a Navajo language dub of Disney’s classic animation film "Finding Nemo." Under Wheeler’s direction, the Navajo Nation Museum has also worked with world renowned artist Ai Weiwei, partnering him with Navajo artist Bert Benally, to create a site-specific installation piece in a remote canyon on the Navajo Nation.
Wheeler attended Arizona State University, where he earned his BA in Art History. He is married to Jennifer Wheeler, PhD (ASU), and they have two sons Waunekanez (currently attending ASU) and Hataaliinez.
Reese was born at the Indian Hospital in Santa Fe, New Mexico 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. 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 reprinted and used across several disciplines—including education, library science, and English.
But it is her widely known blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, 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.