Southeast Missouri State University
For more information, contact:
Ann K. Hayes (573) 651-2552




CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 19, 2002 -- Awiakta, the distinguished Cherokee/Appalachia poet, storyteller, and essayist, will speak at 7:30 p.m. April 24 in the Southeast Missouri State University Museum.

"What sustains each of us in these difficult times" is one of the topics Awiakta plans to explore.

"We invite people to come join us in conversation, and continue the weaving of our lives that began with her first visit in 1996," said Dr. Carol Morrow, Southeast assistant professor of sociology and anthropology.

This will be Awiakta's fourth visit to Southeast. The April 24 event will be an interactive evening with Awiakta, Morrow said.

Her book, Selu: Seeking the Corn Mother's Wisdom, has received international acclaim for its pioneering fusion of her Cherokee and Appalachian mountain heritages with scientific thought. Wilma Mankiller, former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma wrote the foreword of Selu: Seeking the Corn Mother's Wisdom, and emphasized that, "As you read through this extraordinary book, you will be helped onto a path that will enable you to gain a clear sense that there is a way that we can stop destroying the very world that sustains us, and we can return to a time of balance and harmony."

Selu is required reading at more than 200 colleges and universities today, including at Southeast Missouri State. Selu was a 1995 alternative selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club and the audiotape was nominated for a 1996 Grammy award. A quote from it is carved into the granite River Wall in Nashville's Bicentennial Capitol Mall. Radford University named its newly created writer's retreat and nature preserve "The Selu Conservancy." Rupert Cutler, the noted book critic, wrote that Selu may do for the ethnic diversity and gender equality movements what Rachel Carson's Silent Spring did for the environmental movement.

Awiakta has received many honors for her work, including the Woman of Vision Award, and the Women of Achievement recognition. She has received the Distinguished Tennessee Writer's Award from the Tennessee Mountain Writers Association and was honored by the Appalachian Writer's Association for her outstanding contributions to Appalachian literature. She is on the board of the National Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers and has appeared on the PBS program "Telling Tales" and National Public Radio's "Tell It on the Mountain: Appalachian Women Writers."

Awiakta uses her deep passion for life, her unique perspectives, and her wry sense of humor to create connections among different cultures. As she says, "Through blood and experience, I'm a bridge between different cultures. I hope my work can be used in that way - to make bridges of understanding."

Copies of Awiakta's books and audio cassettes will be for sale at the talk, and a book-signing will take place after the talk.

This visit is sponsored by the ad hoc Committee on University Relations with Native Americans, and the departments of art, English, sociology and anthropology, and Funding for Results.


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