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Grant Enables Teachers to Study Native American Literature

Sixteen teachers will spend the summer studying Native American literature at Western Washington University.

Sixteen teachers will study American Indian literature at Western Washington University this summer, thanks to a $122,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

During the five-week Summer Seminar for School Teachers, teachers will study four contemporary Native American novels: The Surrounded by D’Arcy McNickle (Métis), House Made of Dawn by N. Scott Momaday (Kiowa), Winter in the Blood by James Welch (Blackfeet/Gros Ventre), and Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko (Laguna Pueblo).

“We will examine these four ‘firsts’ — the first extended narrative by each author — in the contexts of the cultures that they portray,” said Western Washington University English professor John Purdy, who applied for the grant. “These novels represent the achievements of fledgling writers from very different backgrounds and experiences who faced similar artistic and rhetorical challenges when they chose to write a novel. Each, in turn, provided noteworthy contributions to American literature in general, and collectively have come to reflect a definitive center for the rapidly expanding canon of Native American fiction.”

Purdy is a specialist in Native American literature and developed his university’s Native American studies minor. He is the author of Word Ways: The Novels of D’Arcy McNickle and edited the essay collections The Legacy of D’Arcy McNickle and Nothing But the Truth: an Anthology of Native American Literature.

The seminar at Western is designed for full?time teachers, librarians and administrators in grades K-12. The 16 participants selected will receive a stipend of $3,900. To apply, visit or e-mail: