June 7-8, 2022
Featuring Keynote Speakers, Dovie Thomason and Alan Groves & Performance by Connor Chee
Coming from the rich oral tradition of her Lakota and Plains Apache family, Dovie Thomason has had a lifetime of listening and telling the traditional Native stories that are the cultural “heartsong” of community values and memory. Both wise and mischievous, Dovie unfolds the layers of her indigenous worldview and teachings with respect, sly humor and rich vocal transformations. When she adds personal stories and untold histories, the result is a contemporary narrative of Indigenous North America told with elegance, wit and passion. Her programs are a heartfelt sharing of Native stories she has had the privilege of hearing from Elders of many nations and are woven with why we need stories, how stories are a cultural guide in shaping values and making responsible choices, how stories build communities and celebrates our relationship with the Earth and all living beings. The oral tradition she gifts to listeners inspires delight in spoken language arts, encourages reading, supports literacy, can be used in classrooms to motivate better writing as students experience storytelling techniques, literary devices and effective communication. All of this takes place while they are exploring their own narratives and family values. Dovie has represented the U.S. as the featured storyteller throughout the world. In 2015, she was honored as the storyteller-writer in residence at the Centre for Creative Writing and Oral Culture at the University of Manitoba in Canada. Dovie has used her storytelling to advise the UCLA Film School on narrative in modern film, NASA on indigenous views of technology, the Smithsonian Associates’ Scholars Program and the premier TEDx Leadership Conference. Her role as a traditional cultural artist and educator has been honored by the National Storytelling Network’s ORACLE: Circle of Excellence Award and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers’ Traditional Storyteller Award.
Navajo pianist and composer Connor Chee is known for combining his classical piano training with his Native American heritage. Chee made his Carnegie Hall debut at the age of 12 after winning a gold medal in the World Piano Competition. A graduate of the Eastman School of Music and the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music, Chee’s solo piano music is inspired by traditional Navajo chants and songs. Chee has released 4 studio albums of original pieces and piano transcriptions of Navajo music. The Navajo Piano won Best Instrumental Recording at the 16th Annual Native American Music Awards, and his piece “Beginnings” won Best New Age Song. Chee’s 2020 release, Scenes from Dinétah, features piano pieces written about elements of Navajo life and culture. It was accompanied by the release of several music videos filmed on the reservation, directed by Navajo filmmaker Michael Etcitty Jr. Chee's most recent release, The Navajo Piano (Revisited), features new recordings of his original 15 compositions from 2014, as well as recordings of the traditional songs they were based on. Also included are 3 new transcriptions for harp featuring Angelica Hairston and Johanna Wienholts.
Alan Groves is a member of the Northern Ute and Hopi tribes. Professionally, he is a high school teacher and also serves as a teacher coach in his school community as well. He earned a master’s degree from Brigham Young University.
In his youth Alan primarily used drawing and painting as his preferred media for his artistic expression, but as he has grown older he has learned the traditional Native American arts of beading and porcupine quillwork. He makes and sells jewelry and also makes pow wow regalia for his family’s personal use in their cultural practice.
Before contact with Europeans, Native Americans used natural media for their art and using porcupine quills was a very common practice. This changed after contact with Europeans because trading offered other them other materials to use. The Utes were one of the first tribes to get horses which allowed them to trade for glass beads early on. Today, Utes are known for their intricate beadwork using glass seed beads.
As a teacher and an artist, Alan tries to implement ideas from Native American culture and art in his classroom. He strongly believes that exposure to a broad variety of perspectives will help our youth be able to deal with the global issues that they will need to deal with.