I have just been informed that Neither Wolf nor Dog has been selected as the 2015 Common Book for incoming freshmen in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota. It will be a core reading in their intensive First Year Inquiry course.
This announcement comes just weeks before I travel to Alexandria, Minnesota, where Neither Wolf nor Dog is their Community Reads selection.
The Wolf at Twilight has already been used as the Common Book for freshmen at Gustavus Adolfus College, and it is my hope that some college or community will soon select The Girl who Sang to the Buffalo as their Common Book or Community Reads choice.
I am always both gratified and excited when any of the three “Dan” books gets public exposure. They are, to be sure, meant to be enjoyable reading. But it is more important to me that they are understood as teaching stories. We need to reenvision our American historical narrative and give the point of view of our land’s first peoples a more prominent place. I think that these three books help in that effort.
But even more, the values and vision of the Native peoples need to be reintegrated into our philosophical understanding. Though it is almost a cliche, now, more than ever, we need to internalize their long-held understanding that we are a part of nature, and not apart from her.
I go back to the words of the elder who told me, “Always teach by stories, because stories lodge deep in the heart.”
These three books teach by stories. It is my most fervent hope that they make their way into colleges and universities and other situations where people’s minds are shaped. These Common Book and Community Reads selections are a good start. May these literary children of mine continue to find their voice and make their way.