NSN strives to offer our attendees some of the best in the industry as keynote speakers. Please continue to check back here for future updates as we confirm our keynote addresses.

Thursday, July 26, 2018 | 7:00pm

The Tie that Binds: A Tribute to All the Stars

Anita Norman

We encounter pockets of the world that offer their breath and light, resilience and hope, pain and terror. From Highway 365 in Little Rock, Arkansas to Moria, a refugee camp in Lesvos, and even on the stage of an empty auditorium, a story weaves the most unimaginable connections. Sharing who we are mobilizes and inspires who we might become: in homage to a constellation of stories that have lead us here.

Anita Norman is a thinker and dreamer, public speaker, and writer. Most recently, she spent time in Greece, documenting life inside refugee camps. She is a National Poetry Out Loud Champion, NBA Cares Slam Poet Winner and three-time Tennessee Poetry Out Loud Champion. Some of her performances include the Kennedy Center, the International Storytelling Festival, the Library of Congress, and Franklin Theatre. Anita is a senior at Yale University double majoring in Psychology and American Studies.

Friday, July 27, 2018 | 10:15am

How the Wild West Was Spun

Dovie Thomason

In 1887, just eleven years after the battle at The Greasy Grass/Little Bighorn, Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West gave command performances for Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. It was the international premiere of “America’s National Entertainment”.  Also called “The Centennial Story” in the States, the Wild West was first staged to resonate with the centennial celebrations of 1876. Cody had taken America by storm; he was the most famous man of the day—the Self-Made Man and Frontier Hero.  His Wild West was AUTHENTIC:  REAL INDIANS…real buffalo…real cavalry…real cowboys.  Cody had “discovered” something, touring and performing for American audiences:  Millions would pay to see dramatized stories of the real world, provided much of the reality was left out …or scripted…  Take a look beyond the myth into myth-making and the birth of “celebrity” that frames the current narrative of our history.

Dovie Thomason is an inspiriting storyteller, infusing spirit and new life into the traditional tales she first herd as a child.  She has spent a lifetime gathering and weaving those tales with stories from her own life into a passionate and compelling vision. She engages audiences with tales that teach about human nature and indigenous worldviews with wry humor, stirring questions, and subtle graces that create a modern appeal with deep cultural roots. Thomason carries the name and the influence of her grandmother, from whom she absorbed stories of her paternal ancestors as well as ‘pan-Indian’ stories that her grandmother learned from other children in the boarding school era.  That early relationship with a beloved elder relative has encouraged her to seek out the encouragement and support of elders of many nations which sustains her on her storytelling journey.

Thomason considers herself a quilt of mixed backgrounds – Lakota, Plains Apache and Scots Traveller ancestry, urban Chicago and rural Texas, the Internet and Native American elders, family teachings and university classrooms – and draws on those contrasts and cultures in her work. Conveying these stories respectfully and responsibly to audiences young and old, indigenous and non-indigenous, is Thomason’s calling and has made her one of the most respected and admired storytellers of her generation.  When she adds personal stories and untold histories, the result is a contemporary narrative of Indigenous North America told with elegance, wit and passion. Her storytelling has been featured at countless prominent global events, including the Kennedy Center, Smithsonian Institution/NMAI, London’s Barbican, Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, and festivals from Tennessee to Estonia. She has lent her voice to narrations for the BBC, NPR, PBS, RTE, and the National Parks Service, including the Emmy-winning “Mystic Voices”.  She is a recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence award and the Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers Traditional Storyteller Award.