One Book, One Community wraps up 2016

by Anne Donohue

The “One Book, One Community” program encourages the Marquette County and Northern Michigan University community to read the same book and to come together to discuss it in a variety of settings. This year’s book, The Round House by Louise Erdrich, is a compelling coming of age tale that combines wisdom and wit to describe Joe Coutts’ life during the summer of his 13th year. It is a pivotal time in his life when his mother is brutally attacked and his family deals with the aftermath of such violence while struggling with the ideas of justice and revenge. The committee made valiant attempts to get the author to come, but it was not affordable this year. We did have several events that coincided nicely with Northern Michigan University’s UNITED conference as well as Native American Heritage month.

Over 280 people attended numerous events around Marquette.

We started on September 25 with the documentary Finding Dawn, a 2006 film by Christine Welsh that looks into the fate of an estimated 500 Canadian Aboriginal women who have been murdered or gone missing over the past 30 years. April Lindala, director of NMU’s Center for Native American Studies, introduced the film and fostered discussion as part of the UNITED conference.

On September 26 there was a panel discussion by NMU English professors as part of the UNITED conference. Lynn Domina, Amy Hamilton and Patricia Killelea each spoke about different themes in the book.

The NMU Olson Library hosted our next event on September 29. Matthew Flechter of the MSU College of Law gave a presentation titled, “Crossing the Line or Not: Hazardous Intersections of Tribal and Non-Tribal Law.” That followed a taped interview with the author, conducted by Bill Moyers.

On October 4 Snowbound Books and the Peter White Public Library co-hosted a book discussion for community and university members. Dianne Patrick and Cathy Seblonka did a splendid job leading the conversation.

A panel discussion titled “Women, Violence and Revenge” was held on October 19 at the Marquette Regional History Center. Led by moderator Beth Casady, director of the Marquette Women’s Center, the panelists included Anthony Carrick of the Chocolay Township Police Department, Grace Chaillier, professor in the NMU Center for Native American Studies, Violet Friisvall-Ayres, associate judge at the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, and Pat Micklow, retired 96th District Court judge.

On November 2 Shirley Brozzo, of the NMU Multicultural Education and Resource Center, led a lively student and community book discussion.

Professor Brozzo also hosted the film Smoke Signals on November 15, with an introduction and conversation.

It was gratifying to see the university and the community work so closely together to make all these events successful. Of course, we couldn’t do any of it without the wonderful volunteers who donate their time and expertise to select the book, plan events and participate as moderators and speakers.

One Book, One Community is always looking for ideas for next year’s title. Email with suggestions.

Of course, we’re always looking for funding, too. If you would like to contribute to the One Book, One Community project, contact the NMU Foundation at or call 227-2627.

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