Library Explores Native American Culture with the Big Read

Wichita Public Library and community partners will kick off the 2024 NEA Big Read: Wichita at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 16 at the Advanced Learning Library, 711 W. 2nd St. The Big Read program encourages residents to read a common book and participate in programs and events held around Wichita over a six-week timeframe.

This year’s book is There There by Tommy Orange. This New York Times bestseller grapples with the complex history of Native Americans with an inheritance of profound spirituality – and with a plague of addiction, abuse and suicide. It follows 12 characters finding their way towards participating in the Big Oakland Powwow.

The kickoff party on March 16 will feature the USD 259 Native American Student Program telling traditional Native stories, Hunter Health Clinic talking about their programs, a demonstration of a new virtual Native history tour through the PocketSights app, and music performances. Free copies of the book will be available for attendees while supplies last.

Two key programs for this year’s Big Read include:

  • “An Urban Indigenous History of Wichita” at 6 p.m. March 28 at the Advanced Learning Library will highlight Wichita’s Urban Native history through stories found in the Library’s archives.
  • “Wichitalks Big Read Edition” at 7 p.m. April 19 at the Wichita Scottish Rite Center, 332 E. 1st St., will feature five-minute lightning-fast talks from residents centered around the topic of generational identity.

Key partners for this year’s Big Read include the Mid-American All Indian Museum, Hunter Health Clinic, The Wichita Public Library Foundation, Friends of the Wichita Public Library and KMUW.

The National Endowment for the Arts and Arts Midwest granted the Library a $20,000 grant to host this year’s Big Read. The Big Read brings together schools, libraries, cultural organizations, businesses and book clubs to celebrate literacy and learning through a common book. More information is available at bigreadwichita.org.


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