Returning the Gift Indigenous Storytelling, Literature, and Arts Festival


Cause Areas


Thu Jun 15, 2017 07:00 AM - Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:00 PM


900 Asp AveOklahoma Memorial Student UnionNorman, OK 73019


In 1992, nearly 400 Native writers and storytellers gathered at the University of Oklahoma (OU) for what would prove to be watershed event for Native literature. Titled, "Returning the Gift: A Festival of Native North American Writers," this historic event created two organizations: Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers (WC) and Native Writers Circle of the Americas (NWCA). Collectively, these organizations offered the only awards given by Indigenous writers to Indigenous writers. Twenty-four years later, while organizers began to create the 25 th anniversary conference, the two organizations reincorporated into an umbrella nonprofit organization, Returning the Gift, Inc. (RTG).

As this is the silver anniversary of RTG, it seems most appropriate to return the event to OU. Much came from the historic gathering in Norman twenty-five years ago and we expect this conference will be similar in its productiveness. A select group of original attendees and high profile younger artists will be headliners including Sherman Alexie, Diane Glancy, Carter Revard, LeAnne Howe, Craig Santos Perez, Simon Ortiz, and Stephen Paul Judd. Our goal, as always, is to both encourage mentorship and celebrate excellence. Bringing together as many original participants as possible with subsequent generations of Indigenous writers, academics, tribal dignitaries, community members, and youth, RTG 25 is a bridge that joins these diverse groups.

Events scheduled throughout the four day conference include live painting, interactive art installations, reading events from all genres represented, storytelling events, pedagogy discussions focused on Indigenous and tribal communities, film and screenwriting workshops, comedy sketches, environmental discussions focused on water and land conservation, Native witness video documentaries, writing workshops, publishing industry workshops, and literary activism discussions. The NWCA awards banquet promises a glamorous event to celebrate all of the work that has been done in American Indian letters over the last twenty-five years that started at OU.

Please join us by giving your support to this important event and helping to shape the future of Native American and Indigenous writing and storytelling, as we call attention to what is both our most threatened and most precious natural resource, the water that gives us life. Volunteer opportunities include helping with set up and take down for our events, information booth sessions, event scouts, registration table work, live tweeting of events, and other fun adventures.


  • Social Media / Blogging
  • Transportation Management
  • Group Facilitation
  • Administrative Support
  • Customer Service
  • Operations

Good Match For

Kids Teens People 55+ Group

Requirements & Commitment

  • Orientation or Training
  • varies

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