About the Series

The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories celebrates the diverse Indigenous heritages of North America through free community book groups, public discussions, and hands-on workshops.

Become a part of the Big Read by joining a local book group in Illinois or download our Big Read Toolkit to host your own – then join other Indigenous Stories readers for free events and workshops around Chicago.

2022-23 NEA Big Read Book Covers
Our English-language book groups will read There There by Tommy Orange (Cheyenne and Arapaho) and Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz (Mojave). A Spanish-language book group will read There There, as well as New Moon/Luna Nueva by Enriqueta Lunez, a Mexican poet who writes in Spanish, English, and Tsotsil.

Together, we’ll discuss these texts and explore different experiences of Native survivance that challenge our notions of freedom, belonging, and displacement. Book groups begin in November 2022 – sign up below!

More Indigenous Stories events will be announced for Spring, 2023. Sign up for the Indigenous Stories mailing list to hear about new events and happenings.

The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories is a program of Illinois Humanities made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest.

Event Calendar

The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories will host a series of public events and workshops throughout Chicago to connect your reading experience to tangible histories and local Native communities. You don’t have to be a book group member to attend – View the calendar below to find an event near you.

More events to be announced for Winter and Spring, 2023. Sign up for the Indigenous Stories mailing list to hear about new events and happenings.

The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories flyerBeginnings: Indigenous Stories at the Field Museum

Join us for the launch of The NEA Big Read: Indigenous Stories and a complimentary visit to the Field Museum’s Native Truths: Our Voices, Our Stories exhibition.

Saturday, November 19, 2022, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. | Field Museum | Founders’ Room 1400 S Lake Shore Dr, Chicago, IL

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Watch Now

The Urban Indian Relocation Program 60 Years Later

Starting in 1952, after the Urban Indian Relocation Act of 1948, the United States government initiated the Urban Indian Relocation Program, designed to move Native Americans off reservations to seven major urban cities, including Chicago. The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian will host a hybrid in-person and virtual event with members of Chicago’s Native communities, featuring a panel and community discussion about the program and its impact on generations of families who still feel the effects of that displacement.

November 30, 2022 | Mitchell Museum of the American Indian | 3001 Central St, Evanston, IL

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Investigating the Archive: American Indian and Indigenous Studies at The Newberry

Join the Newberry Library’s Dr. Kara Johnson, Director of Teacher Programs, and Analú María López, Ayer Indigenous Studies Librarian as they host a workshop that includes a firsthand experience of the Newberry Library’s Edward E. Ayer Collection. This collection is is one of the strongest collections on American Indian and Indigenous Studies in the world.

Saturday, January 21, 2023 10:00 a.m. – Noon | Newberry Library | Rettinger Hall 60 W Walton St, Chicago, IL

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the Haymarket House building from the frontAuthentic Voice: A Writing Workshop

Join us for a writing workshop with writer, photographer, scholar, and former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Kimberly M. Blaeser.

This workshop, in collaboration with the Center for Native Futures, will engage emerging writers in the process of developing their own authentic, creative voices.

Saturday, March 25, 2023 2:00 p.m. | Haymarket House | 800 W Buena Ave, Chicago, IL

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[CANCELED] The Coiled Serpent Mound: Indigenous Traditional Ecological and Cultural Knowledge in Horner Park

Set to be completed in the summer of 2023, indigenous futurist artist X met with Native youth to collaboratively imagine the creation of a new earthwork, a mound installation in the form of a snake that would stretch from the west, at Schiller Park in Chicago’s suburbs, to the east, at Horner Park. Join our hosts, the Chicago Public Art Group, as they engage attendees in learning about indigenous earthwork practices in our region.

Join a Book Group

Book groups will be hosted by libraries, bookstores, and Illinois Humanities partners. Check out available groups below and contact the host to sign up and receive a free copy of our Indigenous Stories titles.

Host a Book Group

Invite your family, friends, and new faces to join an Indigenous Stories book group using our Big Read Toolkit and participants can receive free copies of our NEA Big Read titles!

Big Read Toolkit download flyerThe toolkit includes:

  • Tips to help you dig deeper into each book
  • Questions to guide your meetings
  • Additional resources to structure your group’s experience

Download The Big Read Toolkit

Sign up for our NEA Big Read email list to hear about new events and resources as they become available.

Sign Up

Questions about hosting a group of your own? Get in touch! Contact Rebecca Amato, Director of Teaching and Learning, at rebecca.amato@ilhumanities.org.

Thanks to Our Partners

Illinois Humanities is thrilled to partner with 17 bookstores throughout the Chicago area to put Indigenous Stories titles into the hands of readers. Bookstores are vital places of the public humanities—cornerstones of community and spaces to gather, reflect, and discover. We’re grateful to our partners for joining us to celebrate Indigenous voices. These bookstores are stocked with Indigenous Stories titles and are also giving away National Endowment for the Arts bookmarks!

Visit these sellers to pick up your copy of an Indigenous Stories book.

Resources and Additional Readings

Below please find additional resources and readings. If you have something you would like added to this list, please contact Rebecca Amato, Director of Teaching and Learning, at rebecca.amato@ilhumanities.org.