Expert on Ojibwe culture, language to speak at SUNY Oswego

OSWEGO — Dr. Margaret Noodin, an expert on the culture of the Ojibwe nation of Native Americans, will offer a free talk at 6 p.m., Nov. 20, in the Marano Campus Center auditorium about this year’s Oswego Reading Initiative book, Louise Erdrich’s “The Round House.”

Dr. Margaret Noodin
Dr. Margaret Noodin

Noodin, an assistant professor of English at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and immediate past president of the Association for the Study of American Indian Literatures, will talk about her research, writing and efforts to keep alive the Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) language and culture, as well as takeaways about Ojibwe life and travails from Erdrich’s book.

In the Erdrich novel, a young boy is forced into an early adulthood following a sexual assault on his mother. The layered book “deals with the white man’s history of moral and judicial failure, but also offers a portrait of a community sustained by its traditions, value, faith and stories,” according to the citation for the author’s 2012 National Book Award.

“The reasoning behind the choice of this years (ORI) book was to bring awareness on violence against women particularly within the Native American community,” said Mary McCune, coordinator of the women’s studies program at SUNY Oswego.

As the college celebrates Native American Heritage Month, Noodin’s visit brings to Oswego a scholar in indigenous and American Indian literature and culture.

Her latest publication is “Bawaajimo: A Dialect of Dreams in Anishinaabe Language and Literature,” a book from Michigan State University Press that combines literary criticism, sociolinguistics, native studies and poetics.

Erdrich is one of four Ojibwe authors and experts on Anishinaabe culture discussed in the book. Noodin also wrote about the ORI author in “Louise Erdrich: Critical Insights,” a 2012 book edited by P. Jane Hafen.

“Noodin describes herself as an activist and has dedicated her life to helping to reviving Anishinaabemowin, the Anishinaabe language,” said Sharity Bassett, a member of the women’s studies faculty at Oswego.

SUNY Oswego annually chooses a book for all incoming freshmen — and any other members of the campus and community — to read, and schedules a series of programs, cultural events and talks around it. The ORI Committee rarely chooses so-called coming-of-age books, because first-year college students often have read them already, but found “The Round House” different than others in the genre.

“The piece is beautifully put together focusing on sensitive issues that are overlooked in today’s society,” said McCune. “This broadens the horizon for SUNY Oswego’s students, informing them about Native American literature.”

While there is no admission fee for the talk, those without a current SUNY Oswego parking sticker need to visit the Parking Office or for a $1 day-use permit.