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Marcie Rendon:playwright, poet, author, mystery novelist, community arts activist, member of the White Earth Nation

Wednesday, February 24, 2021 to Thursday, February 25, 2021

I Come from a People Who…In Conversation with Marcie Rendon

Marcie R. Rendon

Marcie Rendon, a member of the White Earth Nation, is a playwright, poet, author, mystery novelist, and community arts activist.  In 2020, Rendon became the first Native American woman to win the McKnight Foundation's Distinguished Artist Award.  “Marcie brings a strong and necessary voice to so many genres,” said Pamela Wheelock, McKnight’s interim president. “She has created a tremendous body of work, including poetry, plays, lyrics, and award-winning crime novels, all while raising up other Native voices in our community. Her commitment to making art in community embodies what a distinguished artist means to Minnesota and to McKnight.” 

Rendon was recently named as one of Oprah Magazine’s 31 Native American Authors to Read Right Now.  When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, a brand new anthology of Native poetry edited by Poet Laureate Joy Harjo, includes Rendon’s poem, 'what's an indian woman to do...',  She has received and been nominated for many awards for her plays, novels, poetry and non-fiction works.

“As Native people, we have known that in order to survive we had to create, re-create, produce,” Rendon writes.  “The effect of the denial of our existence is that many of us have become invisible…the systematic disruption of our families by the removal of our children was effective for silencing our voices.  However, not (everyone) can still that desire, that up-welling inside that says sing, write, draw, move, be… we can sing our hearts out, tell our stories, paint our visions…we are in a position to create a more human reality…in order to live we have to make our own mirrors.”

I Come from a People Who... is a series of events that weaves together the themes of the 2021 Humanity Festival and the 40th Anniversary of IRTF: identity, memory and resistance.  Focusing on Rendon’s extraordinary contributions to Native literature and her advocacy for Native American artists and writers, the series will include a community conversation, an intimate virtual gathering for Cleveland’s Indigenous community, and an interactive poetry workshop. 

 Molly McGlibben (Ojibwe), a poet and Vassar professor explains, “Telling our own stories on our own terms is a political act. Native writers and artists allow non-Indigenous people to reckon with what’s been obfuscated from their consciousness.”  In this participatory and powerful series of events, Rendon will discuss the politics of identity when one’s culture has been systematically destroyed and one’s community is regarded as “vanished peoples.”

 Series co-sponsors:  Social Justice Institute, Baker-Nord Center for Humanities, Writers House, InterReligious Task Force On Central America and Colombia and Lake Erie Native American Council




Who are you?  Who are your people? Poetry Workshop with Marcie Rendon

Wednesday, February 24: 6:30-7:30 pm

Focused on these two central questions - Who are you? Who are your people? - Rendon will lead an interactive poetry workshop, inviting participants to explore their identities through personal memories and to compose a collective poem about belonging and community.  The current isolation of quarantine has pushed us to reexamine the idea of community, a question forced upon Native writers for generations by the impact of relocation, reeducation and a loss of tradition. Free workshop; limited number of participants.


Community Conversation with Marcie Rendon

Thursday, February 25: 11:00-11:45 am

Members of the Northeast Ohio Native community are invited to a virtual lunch with Marcie Rendon, as she shares stories and encourages others to do the same.  This intimate event is a time to build community and strengthen relationships and explore the ideas of memory, resistance and identity with friends. Free event; open to members of the Indigenous community.

Registration required:


 I Come from a People Who…In Conversation with Marcie Rendon

Thursday, February 25: 12-1 pm

Author and advocate Marcie Rendon, a member of the White Earth Nation, will discuss how her identity as a Native woman informs her work, how the art that Native people create broadens perspectives for non-Natives about who they are and who we are, and how the resilience of Native people in the face of historical traumas is expressed through creative resistance.  Cynthia Connolly (Ottawa), who serves on the Lake Erie Native American Council Executive Board, will moderate the conversation. Free event; open to the community.

Registration required:

Cynthia Connolly [Community Conversation Moderator]

Cynthia Connolly grew up in Detroit and is a citizen of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians located in Northern Michigan. She moved to Cleveland in 2007 and serves as the Development Director at Policy Matters Ohio, a nonprofit policy research institute. Cynthia also serves on the executive board of the Lake Erie Native American Council and works as a lecturer at Kent State University, teaching the Native American studies course. She was recently featured in the YWCA Cleveland’s Go LIVE for Equity 2.0 web series. Cynthia earned her Master of Public Administration from Cleveland State University; and a Bachelor of Arts in American Culture and Native American Studies from the University of Michigan.