Sarah Hernandez, Assistant Professor of American Literary Studies and the Director of the Institute for American Indian Research, was invited by the Native American and Indigenous Studies Initiative at Princeton (NAISIP) to participate in a virtual event titled, “We Are the Stars: Honoring Our Literary Ancestors,” which is now available online for viewing.
Hernandez discussed her new book, We Are the Stars: Colonizing and Decolonizing the Oceti Sakowin Literary Tradition (University of Arizona Press and University of Regina Press). We Are the Stars is a literary recovery project that honors and celebrates Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota women writers such as Ella Cara Deloria, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, and many other storytellers and writers who have served as the Oceti Sakowin’s traditional culture keepers and culture bearers.
Hernandez’s presentation was followed by a discussion with Dakota/Lakota writer Diane Wilson, author of the award-winning book, The Seed Keeper. Both Hernandez and Wilson are long-time members of the Oceti Sakowin Writers Society (formerly the Oak Lake Writers’ Society), a-first-of-its-kind group for Dakota, Lakota, and Nakota writers. Established in 1993, the Society seeks to protect and defend Oceti Sakowin oral traditions, histories, and literatures.
Hernandez additionally attended the 2023 South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood, South Dakota, and represented the state of South Dakota at the 2023 National Book Festival in Washington D.C. with her book, We Are the Stars: Colonizing and Decolonizing the Oceti Sakowin Literary Tradition.
Every year, the Library of Congress publishes a list of books, “Great Reads from Great Places,” that represents the literary heritage of all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This year, the South Dakota Humanities Council (SDHC) picked We Are the Stars as their state’s selection for the LOC’s National Book Festival. The SDHC streamed an interview with Hernandez that they posted online after the festival.
We Are the Stars is a literary recovery project that honors and celebrates Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota women writers such as Ella Cara Deloria, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, and many other storytellers and writers who have long served as their tribes traditional culture keepers and culture bearers. Although Oceti Sakowin writers have largely been erased and silenced for the past 200 years, Hernandez argues that Dakota, Nakota, and Lakota women writers have long been an integral part of South Dakota and Minnesota’s literary heritage.