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Workshop held for young American Indian writers

The Red River Valley Writing Project and the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers recently partnered to organize a daylong writing workshop for students at Circle of Nations School in Wahpeton, North Dakota. The Red River Valley Writing Project is hosted by NDSU.

A total of 65 American Indian seventh and eighth grade students participated in the Sept. 12 workshop, coordinated by Kelly Sassi, assistant professor of English and Red River Valley Writing Project director. Several other NDSU contributors also were involved, including Denise Lajimodiere, assistant professor of practice in the School of Education; graduate student Caitlin Johnson; and 12 English education students.

The workshop was part of a national initiative called “Start.Write.Now” to inspire teens across the country to engage in creative activities.

““Promoting writing among Native American students and all North Dakota students is part of our writing project mission,” Sassi explained, noting Start.Write.Now workshops and readings help students develop their craft through professional mentorship, and provide opportunities for students to perform their work in a fun, inclusive and supportive environment.

Facilitators led working sessions in poetry, short story writing, flash fiction, photography, comic book writing and artful writing. Facilitators included Lajimodiere, Johnson and Circle of Nations personnel – staff member and writer Lise Erdrich, principal Brad Zachow, and teachers Lori Hieserich and Laura Youngbird.

The 12 NDSU English education students who assisted with the workshop were Hannah Andring, Josh Dullea, Ryan Gustafson, Jaime Jarmin, Kasey Klinkhammer, Abbey Leier, Jenny Long, Brittany Schneider, Nicolas Strom, Celena Todora, Kelsey Vogt and Beth Walsh.

In addition, participants were encouraged to prepare submissions for the 2015 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, the most prestigious scholarship and recognition program for creative teens in the United States. This year, the Red River Valley Writing Project and Plains Art Museum will serve as the North Dakota affiliate for the awards program. Deadline for submissions is Dec.17.

The Circle of Nations workshop was funded by the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers.

For more information, contact Sassi at or 701-231-7156.

NDSU is recognized as one of the nation's top 108 public and private universities by the Carnegie Commission on Higher Education.

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North Dakota State University
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