Many Voices, One Center

Our 2019 conference will be March 7 – 9 at Mystic Lake Hotel and Casino

The Native American Literature Symposium is organized by an independent group of Indigenous scholars committed to making a place where Native voices can be heard. Since 2001, we have brought together some of the most influential voices in Native America to share our stories—in art, prose, poetry, film, religion, history, politics, music, philosophy, and science—from our worldview. This year’s conference theme is WE ARE STILL HERE.

Download the NALS 2019 PROGRAM

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PDF file available
NALS 2019 KEYNOTES FINALJennifer Foerster’s image, source, Tim Tingle’s image, source, Theo Van Alst’s image (edited), source



Jennifer Elise Foerster is the author of poetry collections Bright Raft in the Afterweather (2018) and Leaving Tulsa (2013) – both published by the University of Arizona Press. Her work has also been anthologized in New Poets of Native Nations (2018), Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology (2019), and Sing: Poetry from the Indigenous Americas (2011), among others.

Foerster’s most recent fellowships and awards include a Lannan Foundation Writing Residency Fellowship (2014), the NEA Creative Writing Fellowship (2017), and an Aninstantia Foundation 2019 Artist Grant. She is the Interim Director of the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) Low-Residency MFA program, and co-directs, with Joy Harjo, an arts mentorship program for Mvskoke youth in Oklahoma. Foerster is of German, Dutch, and Mvskoke descent, and is a member of the Mvskoke (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. Learn more about her writing, education, and awards here.


Smokii Sumac is a proud member of the Ktunaxa nation. His debut poetry collection, You are enough: love poems for the end of the world (Kegedonce Press 2018), began as a kind of daily online poetry journal (hashtag #haikuaday) and ended up brilliant work of heartfelt storytelling. The collection brings readers through two years of life as a Ktunaxa Two-Spirit person.

Smokii has also been published in Write Magazine, Aanikoobijigan // Waawaashkeshi (the fourth component of a multi-year art project), on coffee sleeves as one of the winners of Peterborough’s e-city lit’s artsweek contest (2014), and in Canadian Literature under his former name. He has performed across the country, including at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word (2017) and at the Queer Arts Festival (2018). Smokii is a PhD Candidate in Indigenous Studies at Trent University.


Photographer, writer, and scholar, Theodore C. Van Alst, Jr. (Lakota descent) is a unique voice in the literary community. His linked short story collection, Sacred Smokes, which introduces a character who defies all stereotypes about urban life and Indians, was published July 2018 by the University of New Mexico Press. His writing and photography can be found in The RumpusIndian Country TodayEntropyElectric LiteratureThe Raven ChroniclesLiterary OrphansHigh Desert Journal, and Yellow Medicine Review, among others.

Theodore C. Van Alst Jr. is also the editor of The Faster Redder Road: The Best UnAmerican Stories of Stephen Graham Jones (UNM Press), the Director of Indigenous Nations Studies at Portland State University, and the Creative Editor for Transmotion, an online journal of postmodern indigenous studies. You can learn more here.


Tim Tingle is an award-winning author, skilled storyteller, and an enrolled member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. In 1835, his great-great grandfather, John Carnes, walked the Trail of Tears. The passed-down memories of this family epic were fuel to Tingle’s early interest in writing and storytelling.

His first children’s book, “Crossing Bok Chitto” (2003), garnered over twenty state and national awards, and was an Editor’s Choice in the New York Times Book Review. Among his most recent accomplishments, Tingle has won the American Indian Youth Literature Award for his novels House Of Purple Cedar (2016) and How I Became a Ghost (2014). He has also performed as a storyteller in festivals and schools across the country, including the 2014 National Storytelling Festival in Washington, D.C. Tingle received his Masters in English Literature at the University of Oklahoma in 2003. You can learn more about his work and awards here.

You can view the 2018 Program here and check out last year’s key note speakers:

Natalie Diaz, Joshua B. Nelson, and Tommy Pico.