A virtual presentation by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo on Monday, Oct. 25, at 7 p.m. will formally launch a month’s worth of online and in-person events scheduled for this year’s NEA Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore as the programs provide a community-wide opportunity to explore Native American history and culture. [NOTE: The presentation by Joy Harjo has been rescheduled to Monday, Nov. 8 at 8 p.m.]

The link for Harjo’s Oct. 25 keynote — and the links for all of the virtual events — will be provided to those who register at bigreadlakeshore.com for this year’s program.  The complete schedule of virtual and in-person events is also available on the website.

Organized by Hope College, the Big Read Lakeshore will feature presentations by multiple authors but is centered around Harjo’s “An American Sunrise,” a collection of poems that traverses the homeland from which her ancestors were uprooted in 1830 as a result of the Indian Removal Act.  The Little Read Lakeshore for children is featuring the picture book “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story,” written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal.

In addition to the author presentations, the programs will feature a mix of events to provide additional insight into Native American heritage, traditions and experience, ranging from lectures, to hands-on ceramics workshops, to a film, to exhibitions. As always, the Big Read will include several book-discussion groups.

In advance of this year’s Big Read and Little Read, Dr. Fred Johnson III, associate professor of history at Hope, will deliver a virtual lecture on Wednesday, Oct. 20, at 9 a.m. about the history of Native Americans and their interactions with early colonists.

To set the stage for this year’s poetry focus, emeritus Hope English professor Jack Ridl will present “Another Way to Look at Poetry” on Monday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. in the college’s Maas Center auditorium.  Participating in the Big Read Lakeshore as poet-in-residence, he will be present throughout the month as readers dive into poetry for themselves.

Along with Harjo’s Oct. 25 keynote, the author presentations, all of which will be virtual, include:

Tuesday, Oct. 26, at 7 p.m.: Kent Nerburn, author of “Neither Wolf Nor Dog,” who will share reflections on writing the book and spending time on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation;

Tuesday, Nov. 2, at 7 p.m.: storyteller and poet Lydia Whirlwind Soldier, who will share stories from her book “Memory Songs”;

Monday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m.: Angeline Boulley, author of “Firekeeper’s Daughter”;

Wednesday, Nov. 10, at 10:30 a.m.: Dr. Debbie Reese, who will present “From Wilder’s ‘Little House on the Prairie’ to Harjo’s ‘American Sunrise’: Words Matter”; and

Friday, Nov. 12, at 9 a.m.: Kevin Noble Maillard, the Little Read featured author, who will give a virtual tour of his studio and a behind-the-scenes look at picture-book making.

The Kruizenga Art Museum at Hope College is featuring the focus exhibition “Native American Art: Recent Acquisitions from the Kruizenga Museum Collection” through Saturday, Dec. 11. On Thursday, Oct. 28, at 4:30 p.m. in the Fried-Hemenway Auditorium of the Martha Miller Center for Global Communication, Native American artist Kelly Church will discuss the history and cultural importance of Black Ash pottery among the Anishinaabe people of the Great Lakes Region and how the tradition is threatened by an invasive insect species and other environmental forces. On Tuesday, Nov. 9, at 11 a.m., along with book discussion, the museum will present a gallery talk on how the commercialization of Native American art in the 20th century affected Native American culture.

The Saugatuck Center for the Arts is featuring a mini-exhibition of graphic design work by Ontario-based Anishinaabe artist Mariah Meawasige through Wednesday, Dec. 22.

Potawatomi ceramicist Jason Wesaw will lead a two-day ceramics workshop on Thursday, Oct. 28, and Thursday, Nov. 4, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Outdoor Discovery Center. The event will engage the traditional approach to pottery that was once used by indigenous people, and those attending may take home creations of their own.

The Outdoor Discovery Center will also host “Michigan’s Indigenous People During the Woodland Era” on Wednesday, Nov. 3, from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. The event will include a tour of the center’s replica Ottawa/Potawatomi summer village and an opportunity to learn about and even try some of the basic life activities of Michigan’s indigenous peoples before and after contact with Europeans.

Dr. Sean O’Neill, professor of history at Grand Valley State University, will present “The Indian Removal Act Was No Anomaly” on Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 7 p.m. as a virtual event.

The Hope College May Term course at the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota will be the focus of a panel discussion on Thursday, Nov. 4, at 7 p.m. in Winants Auditorium of Graves Hall.

Hope College’s StrikeTime Dance Theatre will present its “Dancing Through the Pages” series focused on “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” on Friday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. as a virtual program. The three segments are: “Dancing Recipes,” linking cooking, traditions and dance, geared toward ages 4-7; “Traditions,” with special guest Nick Dalton, a mixed-blood, two-spirit of Creek/Cherokee descent, geared for ages 8-adult; and a performance inspired by “Carrying Our Words,” a poem written by Ofelia Zepeda, a member of the Tohono O’odham Nation of southwestern Arizona, geared for ages 9-adult.

Teens and Tweens will have a chance to share stories, poems, songs or even jokes for a general audience during an open mic night on Friday, Nov. 5, from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Allegan District Library.

On Thursday, Nov. 11, at 8 p.m., The Bookman in Grand Haven will feature Jack Ridl, Alison Swan, Teressa Scollon and Marcia Kennedy as they read excerpts from “An American Sunrise,” discuss the significance and read some of their own poetry.

Author and editor Cynthia Leitich Smith will present “Journey to Inclusion: Native and First Nations Books for Young Readers” on Monday, Nov. 15, at 7 p.m. as a virtual event. Registration on Herrick District Library’s website is required.

The Center for Diversity and Inclusion and Office of Sustainability at Hope will host a screening of the documentary “Gather” on Tuesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. at the Knickerbocker Theatre. The film follows Native Americans as they reclaim their spiritual and cultural identities through food sovereignty.

Dr. Charlene Montaño Nolan of Western Washington University will present “W@nderings with children and families: developing place-based approaches to teaching and learning” on Friday, Nov. 19, at 3 p.m. as a virtual event through the Diversity and Equity in Education speaker series of the Department of Education at Hope College.

Hope College’s StrikeTime Dance Theatre will perform and present work inspired by “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” on Friday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. and Saturday, Nov. 20, at 10 a.m. in studio 207 of the college’s Dow Center.

Herrick District Library in Holland, inspired by “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story,” is collecting recipes and stories of food traditions embraced by members of the community for a collaborative cookbook that will be available for checkout. Submissions may be shared online at the library’s website, herrickdl.org/community-cookbook, through Sunday, Oct. 31.

Howard Miller Public Library in Zeeland is hosting the interactive community art project “Voices through Verse,” inviting participants who are reflecting on Harjo’s journey through verse to use various forms of poetry and materials available in the exhibit space from Monday, Oct. 25, through Wednesday, Nov. 17, to share life experiences with others.

Sites hosting discussions of “An American Sunrise” include Howard Miller Public Library in Zeeland (Monday, Oct. 25-Tuesday, Nov. 30, virtual); the Hope Academy of Senior Professionals (Thursday, Nov. 4, 11 a.m.-noon); the Kruizenga Art Museum (Tuesday, Nov. 9, 11 a.m.-noon); Allegan District Library (Tuesday, Nov. 9, 7-8 p.m.); Freedom Village (Wednesday, Nov. 10, 3-4 p.m.); Alliance for Cultural and Ethnic Harmony (Friday, Nov. 12, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Holland Museum); Our Brewing Company (Wednesday, Nov. 17, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., with an emphasis on connections to the television show “Rutherford Falls” on Peacock).

Storytime events featuring “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” for young readers will be at sites including Allegan District Library (Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2-3 p.m.); and Howard Miller Public Library in Zeeland (Wednesday, Nov. 10, 10-11 a.m., and again from 11 a.m. to noon).  In addition, families can read “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story” together on signs posted along a paved, stroller-friendly loop through Grand Haven’s Central Park on Monday-Sunday, Nov. 8-14, during the day until 5 p.m.; and are invited to read the book on a story walk at Hawthorn Pond Natural Area through Sunday, Nov. 28, during park hours.

Other activities during this year’s Big Read Lakeshore and Little Read Lakeshore include a virtual Q&A with Harjo with Ridl for middle school, high school and college students on Monday, Oct. 25; virtual visits to Hope classes by Harjo and Nerburn; and a meal for Hope students at the college’s dining hall inspired by “Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story.”

The NEA Big Read Lakeshore was started in 2014, with the Little Read Lakeshore added in 2017, with the goal to create and foster a culture where reader matters.  By bringing the Lakeshore community together around a common book, Big Read Lakeshore uses the shared experience of reading, discussing and exploring the themes of the book as a springboard to listen to and learn from each other.

The two programs are directed by their founder, Dr. Deborah Van Duinen, who is an associate professor of English education at Hope.  Across the past eight years, they have engaged an estimated 12,000 people annually, including thousands of students from pre-school through college-age.

The NEA Big Read Lakeshore program is made possible in part, and for the eighth consecutive year, by a grant from the NEA Big Read, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with ArtsMidwest. The Little Lead Lakeshore is supported in part for the third consecutive year by a grant from Michigan Humanities.

Due to the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, Hope is currently requiring that masks be worn by all individuals while indoors on campus unless in their living space or alone in their work space.