Mary Ann Key Book Club - March Newsletter

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March 2022

How to participate

The Mary Ann Key Book Club is intended to allow you to engage in ways that best fit your time and interests. You can participate in several different ways:

Message from Myron Medcalf

Portrait of Myron Medcalf

As an African-American, I am accustomed to conversations about the history of my community beginning with the trauma inflicted upon it through oppressive practices, slavery, racism and discrimination. In the opening chapters of “An Indigenous People’s History of the United States for Young People,” I am grappling with this concept of a “terminal narrative.” On Page 43, the authors state: “The word ‘terminal’ suggests that Native nations and the people in them were completely wiped out by Europeans. This is not the case. … efforts to terminate them were not successful.” 

It is so important for marginalized communities to announce their presence. We know if we don’t amplify our stories, we will be forgotten. But my starting point is a place of enslavement. In this book, Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza convey that Indigenous people are fighting to prove that they were not, in fact, eliminated by the practices that intended to erase them. 

That has always been the goal. Through the use of “bloodlines,” Indigenous populations were deemed to be less by those who aimed to destroy their communities. The physical manifestation of racism and its offspring were demonstrated by the damage to an Indigenous community that never stopped fighting Europeans arrived and intended to conquer in the name of greed. But also, the fight remains, as the book discusses, to disallow people who’ve tried to track their lineages today through DNA companies. This idea that a person might be “15 percent Native American” might be popular on social media. But it also speaks to that false erasure the community continues to fight. It’s why tribal nations do not acknowledge many of those companies or their efforts. 

And it goes back to this lie that the Indigenous community was eliminated. That’s the story we’re told. But the community’s resilience is evident. In this book, I hear Mendoza and Reese saying, “We are here. Still.” 

Message from Ramona Kitto Stately

Ramona Kitto Stately

Reading and reflecting on Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People makes me hopeful as a Dakota woman that readers may imagine a seldom taught perspective of History, and think critically about why the story is told as it is.  As the Project Director of We Are Still Here Minnesota, whose mission is to replace fiction with facts and spotlight harmful narratives, this book choice aligns with that goal.  I am hopeful that readers can connect the information to “place” namely Minnesota and think critically about how we can become more informed about our own history. This book creates curiosity, and so many questions continue to arise, even for myself.

Terminology matters, and our choice of words have the power to create assumptions. The example used is enslaved vs. slave which turns people into objects and is therefore dehumanizing. If a person is deemed unworthy of respect, it is easier to oppress or hurt them.  Stewards of the land vs. landowners.  A steward is someone who is responsible for managing resources, in our case “relatives”, for the sake of the people in the present and future. Not to exploit it for present use and ruined for the future. This is why the land was purposefully described as virgin land, as if it was not used. It was used, not abused.  Lifeways and Original instructions vs. Strength and resilience, words that cause the reader to humanize a people and begin to understand that resident populations were invaded and displaced. It is still against the law for the Dakota to live within the borders of our own homeland, MniSota Makoca. These are such simple facts that it seems self-evident. So why do we believe it? Because all of us have learned the same skewed history.

The definition described as “terminal narratives” in history allow me as the reader to see how our history reenforces a false understanding that we are no longer here. Phrases like the last stand, the end of the trail, how the Sioux people lived, last of the Mohicans, Manifest Destiny and many others, imply the end of Indigenous people and the rights of the invaders. All of this developed by the descendants of those Europeans and are now embedded in our history lessons for children.

As I look as the response of the world today, sending support and love to the people of Ukraine as they courageously stand against an enemy to protect their homelands, I am inspired. Over 500 tribal Nations in our own country did the same. Yet, our story has been written by the invader and is deeply embedded in our way of knowing and understanding history. I have been told that the winner of the war gets to write the history and my response is always the same; it doesn’t make it true.

Learn about the community leaders participating in our May 12 event.


Ramona Kitto Stately

Ramona Kitto Stately is an enrolled member of the Santee Sioux Dakhóta Nation. After 15 years teaching Indian Education in Minnesota, she is now Project Director for the We Are Still Here Minnesota, creating action for narrative change. She currently serves as the Chairperson of the Minnesota Indian Education Association since 2016. She is a part of the scholars' team with of the Minnesota Humanities Center’s forLearning from Place: Bdote and wrote Pazahiyaywen’s Story of the Bdote as a reflection of inspiration from her Great-Great Grandmother who survived the genocidal tactics during the US Dakota War. In December 2021, she was the Recipient of the Ron McKinley Award from Minnesota Education Equity Partnership whose focus is to build equitable education spaces that uplift and empower Minnesota’s POCI students and advance racial equity and excellence in education.


Sharon Day

Sharon M. Day (Ojibwe) is the Executive Director and a founder of the Indigenous Peoples Task Force (IPTF). She is an artist, musician, writer and environmental activist. She is an editor of the anthology Sing! Whisper! Shout! Pray! Feminist Visions for a Just World (Edgework Books, 2000). Sharon is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Resourceful Woman Award, BIHA’s Women of Color Award, The National Native American AIDS Prevention Resource Center’s Red Ribbon Award and the Spirit Aligned Leadership Fellowship. The Governor of the State of Minnesota, and the mayors of both St. Paul and Minneapolis named November 10, 1998 after her: Sharon M. Day, Day. 

Marlena Myles

Marlena Myles (Spirit Lake, Dakota, Mohegan, Muscogee) is a self-taught artist located in St. Paul, MN. Her art brings modernity to indigenous history, languages and oral traditions. Her professional work includes children’s books, fabrics, animations and fine art in galleries such as the Minneapolis Institute of Art, The Museum of Russian Art, Red Cloud Heritage Center and the Minnesota Museum of American Art to name a few. In 2021, she opened her own Dakota publishing company called Wíyouŋkihipi (We Are Capable) Productions to create a wider platform that educates and honors the culture, language and history of Dakota people.

Dr. Katie Philips

Dr. Katie Phillips (Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe) is an assistant professor of history at Macalester College, where she teaches classes on numerous facets of American Indian history and the history of the American West. Her first book, Staging Indigeneity: Salvage Tourism and the Performance of Native American History, was published in 2021. Her current research centers activism, environmentalism, and tourism on and around Red Cliff. 

Pearl Walker-Swaney

Pearl Walker-Swaney (Lakota/Dakota/Anishinaabe of Standing Rock Sioux Tribe/White Earth Nation) is a yoga instructor, full spectrum birthworker and crafter. Pearl enjoys sharing and connecting with individuals on ways to center rest, emotional release, and reclaim ancestral knowledge through birthing care and practices. Pearl believes to heal our past, present, and future, the work begins with ourselves and our children. 


Share your feedback and reflections

Tell us your thoughts as you read An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. Share your feedback, reflections or questions. Your responses and questions may be shared with Myron Medcalf and library staff, and quotes may also be shared with readers through our newsletter.

Upcoming programs

Mary Ann Key Book Club: A Conversation with Debbie Reese

Tuesday, April 19, 7-8:30 p.m.

Join the Mary Ann Key Book Club for an online event featuring Debbie Reese, co-author of our spring 2022 book club selection An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. Debbie Reese will be joined in conversation by Star Tribune columnist and book club partner Myron Medcalf, followed by live Q&A. Collaborator: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Register for this April 19 virtual author conversation

Mary Ann Key Book Club: A Community Discussion of An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People

Thursday, May 12, 7-8:30pm

Join columnist Myron Medcalf and moderator Ramona Kitto Stately in an online conversation with Native American community leaders Sharon Day, Marlena Myles, Dr. Katie Phillips and Pearl Walker-Swaney. Panelists will discuss An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States for Young People. Collaborator: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Register for this May 12 virtual community panel discussion

Small Group Discussions

Join our discussion of An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States for Young People, adapted by Debbie Reese and Jean Mendoza.

Please register for only one small group discussion program. Collaborator: Star Tribune. Sponsor: Friends of the Hennepin County Library.

Thursday, April 28, 10-11:30 a.m.

Registration required for April 28 discussion

Tuesday, May 10, 7-8:30 p.m. 

Registration required for May 10 discussion

Resources for reading, listening, and learning  

Selected by Makoce, a team of Native American library staff and allies:

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