Throughout the country, Native organizations face the challenge of preserving the culture and stories of the indigenous communities they’ve been created to serve. None more so than the Cherokee, whose Trail of Tears began in Western North Carolina. The pressures these Native populations face, both in terms of economics and culture, are very real.
The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers seeks to preserve the stories of indigenous cultures, provide mentors to the next generation of storytellers, and actively promote education and recognition. Their mission?
To support the work and words of Native and Indigenous people in order to strengthen the impact of their voices in asserting community sovereignty, individual self-determination, traditional and cultural values, and creative expression.
The Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers was founded in 1992 by Dr. Lee Francis III. The organization focuses on four core values:
- Story: The center of all our work is story. It is what sustained our people through the darkest times. We honor and celebrate the stories in all we do.
- Community: As an Indigenous organization, we do not act on our own but always as a community; seeking to connect and collaborate
- Quality: We seek to ensure the highest quality of work produced by our members and the organization itself
- Generosity: Our work is done with a good spirit and a good heart that gives more than it receives.
- Authenticity: Our work and words will look to find the most authentic and genuine way to represent Native and Indigenous communities.
Projects include a Native Youth Literacy Project that “focuses on synthesizing Indigenous and Western knowledge and leads to stronger student accomplishments in reading, writing, and communicating.” This program looks to draw from traditional Native values and strengths to help students with reading and writing.
The WC Reads program is an effort to get free comic books into the hands of Native students. And their newest program is Electric Tellings, where they hope to create an online repository and digital radio station for the incredible stories of the indigenous community.
Founded with the belief that “Western education systems find no value in models that do not serve to reinforce the dominant hegemony,” the Story Keepers Project seeks to “empower Native and Indigenous youth through deep cultural and traditional connections to become guides and guardians of their communities’ traditional values and ways of being as communicated through traditional and contemporary stories,” among other goals. This program can be hosted in schools.
Membership is an extremely reasonable $40 a year (cheaper if you qualify for certain categories). This gives you discounts on events and gatherings, access to members-only pages, and a subscription to Native Realities, their official journal.
To learn more about the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, click here.