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Native American author Tommy Orange scheduled to present at Lenoir-Rhyne University
Native American author Tommy Orange scheduled to present at Lenoir-Rhyne University

The Lenoir-Rhyne University Visiting Writers Series continues its 31st season with highly celebrated Native American author Tommy Orange, Thursday, Nov. 7, at 7 p.m. in Belk Centrum. During his presentation, Orange will discuss his book "There There" one of New York Times 2018 10 Best Books of the Year.

Orange's debut novel "There There" grapples with the history of a nation while showcasing a side of America few have ever seen. After noticing a lack of stories about urban Native Americans, Orange created a remarkable work that explores those who have inherited a profound spirituality, but who are also plagued by addiction, abuse, and suicide. "There There" tells the story of 12 characters who each have private reasons for travelling to the Big Oakland Powwow, and who come together after a brutal act of violence. The novel also received the 2019 PEN-Hemingway Award for distinguished new novel and the John Leonard Prize-National Book Critics Circle Award.

Born and raised in Oakland, California, Orange is a member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma. He graduated from the Master of Fine Arts program at the Institute of American Indian Arts, and is a 2014 MacDowell Fellow and a 2016 Writing by Writers Fellow.

Prior to Orange's presentation, the Visiting Writers Series will host a community conversation on Native American identity at 5:30 p.m. in Belk Centrum. Several panel members, who have a deep connection to native communities across the state, will be part of the discussion led by Gwyn Mohler, who serves on the Board of Directors for Metrolina Native American Association.

  • Sky Sampson, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokees, has been the director of the Western Carolina University Cherokee Center for the past three years.
  • Dr. Kathryn Pewenofkit Briner, a Kiowa, Comanche, and Apache descendant, was an LR Lineberger Visiting Multicultural Studies scholar-in-residence fall semester 2016.
  • Nora Dial-Stanley, an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, has spent the last 37 years as an advocate and a voice for Native American people traveling across the country as a storyteller.
  • Brittany Danielle Hunt, a member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina, centers her work on decolonizing and indigenizing academia and anti-racism in K-12 education.
  • Dr. Geoffrey DeLeary of the Chippewa of the Thames First Nation (Ojibway tribe) grew up in inner city Detroit and Flint with summers spent with grandparents on the reservation near London, Ontario. He joined Viewmont Urology Clinic in 1995.

LR's VWS is supported by the United Arts Council of Catawba County through the North Carolina Arts Council, with funding from the State of North Carolina and the National Endowment for the Arts. The VWS is also supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and the Unifour Foundation, a component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation.

Sponsors of the 2019-20 VWS include: Cafe Rule, Corning Foundation, Crowne Plaza Hickory, Footcandle Film Society of Catawba County, The Hickory "Hop," Hickory Public Library, National Endowment for the Arts, North Carolina Arts Council, and United Arts Council of Catawba County.

For more information, visit lr.edu/VWS or call the LR Box Office, which is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., at 828.328.7206.

Established in fall 1998, the Visiting Writers Series at Lenoir-Rhyne University invites authors to tell the stories behind their own works in a relaxed environment before an audience filled with campus and community members. The Writers Series' mission is to build a community of readers, because it believes a community that reads is a more creative, open, and tolerant community. The VWS believes the beauty and power of words help people make sense of the world. Children's writers, mystery writers, essayists, poets, and novelists all participate in this celebration of the written and spoken word.