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57th Western Literature Association Conference – Home on the Rez: Sovereignty and Sustainability

September 18, 2023

The Western Literature Association (WLA) will be holding their 57th annual conference “Home on the Rez: Sovereignty and Sustainability” at the Shoshone-Bannock Hotel and Casino from Wednesday, Oct. 11 through Saturday, Oct. 14. 

This year’s conference is co-hosted by Dr. Amanda Zink of Idaho State University and Dr. Jennifer Ladino of the University of Idaho in partnership with the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. This is the first time in WLA’s history that the conference is being held on a reservation in collaboration with the resident Tribal citizens; more than twenty members of the Shoshone-Bannock government and community will participate in the programming.

The four-day event will include research presentations, poster sessions, book exhibits, tribal vendor booths, film screenings, and community-focused events that will give scholars, writers, students, teachers, and professors the opportunity to gather and collaborate on important issues. 

Opening night will feature Shoshone-Bannock dancers, drummers, and singers with a mini-Grand Entry to begin the conference. Additional plenaries will feature Fort Hall citizens, including representatives from Sho-Ban News and the Fort Hall Business Council, speaking on topics such as sovereignty and the living history of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes. Randy’L Teton, model for the 2000 Sacajawea U.S. dollar coin and previous PR Manager for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, will give a presentation entitled “Her Story: Sacajawea” on Thursday afternoon, and poet W. Todd Kaneko will read from his book This Is How the Bone Sings during a Saturday excursion to the Minidoka National Historic Site. 

Keynote speakers Mark Trahant, Grace Dillon, and Michael Sheyahshe will deliver addresses at both the conference and ISU’s Pocatello campus as part of Indigenous People’s Week. These presentations are free and open to the public. 

Mark Trahant is editor-at-large of Indian Country Today and author of several books. He was a 1989 finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Trahant will give a presentation for Indigenous Peoples’ Week at ISU on Wednesday afternoon, as well as a keynote address entitled “Ms. Chief: The Missing History of Indigenous Women as Leaders” at the opening ceremonies on Wednesday evening. 

Grace Dillon is an Anishinaabe scholar best known for coining “Indigenous Futurism,” her anthology Walking the Clouds: An Anthology of Indigenous Science Fiction, and her work as a consultant on the 2021 Guillermo del Toro film, Antlers. Dillon will give a presentation for Indigenous Peoples’ Week at ISU on Thursday afternoon and lead a discussion panel following a screening of the film Utama on Thursday evening. 

Michael Sheyahshe is a multimedia Caddo artist who writes and illustrates comics and produces 3D modeling, graphic art, and literary scholarship. Sheyahshe will give a presentation for Indigenous Peoples’ Week at ISU on Friday afternoon, as well as a plenary presentation entitled “This is the Way: A Journey into Indigenous Representation in Comics and Media” on Friday evening.

All events are free and open to the public, and shuttles will be provided. 


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