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Plattsburgh Big Read Delves into Native American Culture with 'The Round House'

The Center for Community Engagement at SUNY Plattsburgh will present the first-ever Plattsburgh Big Read throughout the month of April at venues around the North Country, including the college, Clinton Community College, downtown Plattsburgh and at sites on the Akwesasne Mohawk reservation.

The Big Read is a National Endowment for the Arts initiative designed to encourage community reading programs. The NEA annually supports some 75 programs, each designed around a single NEA Big Read book selection. Julia Devine, coordinator of the Center for Community Engagement, secured a $13,000 NEA grant for the month-long Plattsburgh read. 

The Plattsburgh Big Read will feature 2012 National Book Award winner “The Round House,” by Louise Erdrich, a novel about a North Dakota Ojibwe woman who was raped near the sacred round house. The woman’s 13-year-old son attempts to solve the crime.

More than 25 events with more than 20 partners have been scheduled throughout the month of April in the community and on the Plattsburgh and Clinton Community College campuses. More than 10 are family-friendly events.

For a full schedule of the Plattsburgh Big Read, visit www.plattsburghbigread.com.

The Plattsburgh Big Read “acknowledges the traditional Native inhabitants of our region,” Devine said.

“I worked with the Akwesasne Mohawk community to produce the Big Read. It has been a profound experience for me. Increasing Plattsburgh’s awareness of its Native American roots will help open its heart to peace and compassion.”

Highlights include:

Tsi Ni:ion Kwarihoten: An Akwesasne Mohawk Festival, Saturday, April 7 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Plattsburgh High School gym featuring Tom Porter, children’s Pow Wo dancers, and cultural presentations along with Native American food and craft vendors. Presented by the Native American Traveling College

Abenaki writer/storyteller Joseph Bruchac, Sunday, April 8 at 2 p.m., Cadyville Recreation Park. Bruchac will tell the legend, “How the Chipmunk Got its Stripes.”

Bruchac will lead a talkback session Wednesday, April 11 after the screening of the 2015 documentary, “The Seventh Fire,” at the Strand Theater, which begins at 7 p.m.

Creative Arts Celebration, 6:30 p.m., Stafford Building, Clinton Community College

Bruchac returns Friday, April 20 to the Winkel Sculpture Court, Myers Fine Arts Building, at 7 p.m. for an evening of stories, music and discussion of “The Round House.”

A discussion of “The Round House” Tuesday, April 24 from 7 to 9 p.m. in the SUNY Plattsburgh Honors Center in Hawkins Hall

“Waabooz,” a film about an Ojibwe superhero, will be screened Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29 at the Plattsburgh Public Library and the Akwesasne Senior at 2 p.m.

A limited number of free copies of “The Round House” are available at Feinberg Library, Plattsburgh Public Library and the Akwesasne Library and Cultural Center. Readers are encouraged to return the book after reading in order to share with others.

“The Plattsburgh Public Library is thrilled to be a partner in the Big Read,” said Sarah Spanburgh, librarian. “It’s an opportunity for the library to reach a wider audience and learn what we have to offer — programs for adults and children, books and resources for the lifelong learners, comfy spots to stop and take a minute. And a place to pick up a copy of ‘The Round House’ and other information on Plattsburgh Big Read.”

For more information on the Plattsburgh Big Read, contact Devine at 310-367-4199 or email [email protected].

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