Coming to the Concordia campus at the end of October is author Louise Erdrich. Her book The Night Watchman has sparked countless discussions around the Fargo-Moorhead community. Currently, it is being featured by the One Book, One Community program, which is a program that works with local libraries, the Historical and Cultural Society of Clay County, and the Indigenous Association to host events free to the public.
One book, One community focuses on a book that the whole community can read and that is “dedicated to creating a shared conversation along with a range of related events and activities for residents of all ages,” according to their website.
Several different events centered around the book are taking place, which includes The Night Watchman Book Discussion (Oct 13 at 7 p.m.) lead by Concordia’s faculty James Postema at the Fargo Public Library. Postema has been teaching a Native American Literature class off and on for the past 30 years and has featured Erdrich’s early work in his class.
In addition to this event, there will also be the Dream Catcher Class with Christy Goulet (Oct 17 at 1:30 p.m.) at the West Fargo Public Library and the Storytelling with Ojibwe and Lakota Elders event (Oct 18 at 6 p.m.) at the West Fargo Public Library.
The event series wraps up with Louise Eldrich visiting Concordia College’s Centrum on October 27 at 7 p.m., which takes place during the upcoming fall interim. Library Director Laurie Probst said, “The date is determined by the committee and the author’s availability. This year it happened to fall during break.” Probst said that the Concordia community was not the target audience of this event, rather Concordia offers a space to host an event that will engage the larger Fargo-Moorhead community.
Last year, the book won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Erdrich has won numerous awards for her writing, including the Library of Congress Prize in American Fiction, the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. She owns Birchbark Books in Minneapolis and has written 16 novels.
Senior Danika Vukovich said, “We need to champion indigenous voices as a college that is on indigenous land. The ideas that are talked about in the book not only apply to that time period that it was written in, but also applies to the time period and society that we live in today.”
In the book, Erdrich describes a number of legislative actions that were violating treaties during the 1950s. Erdrich talks about the lengths that the tribe and her grandfather took to save their tribe and keep their identity. The book follows the story of a night watchman of a factory as he is writing letters to congressmen about the laws that are detrimental to his tribe.
Intermittently, there are stories included that have a way of being lost in history. “There are also a couple of parallel stories who have gone from Turtle Mountain to the cities and kind of disappeared,” said Postema.
Vukovich was assigned to read the book for a class. From the moment she started reading, she noted how she was swept into the book. She had a hard time putting it down.
“I do enjoy how the author takes you into a world of her own,” Vukovich said. Vukovich recommends The Night Watchman to the entire Concordia community.