Elk River Arts & Lectures presents the Spring 2023 Lecture Series

in pictures  

Oscar Hokeah discusses his debut novel Calling for a Blanket Dance. Photo by Isaac Rowland.

Toasting Oscar’s winning the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debt Novel just moments before he began speaking. Photo by Isaac Rowland.

Novelists Tess Gunty and Tommy Orange, in conversation with Apsáalooke educator Shane Doyle, at NBF Presents: Novels That Connect Us, a special event co-presented by the National Book Foundation.  

Gunty and Orange sign books and interact with some of the 130 community members who came out for the event. Photo by Anthony Pavkovich.

Demuth talks with fifty Park High English and History students about how her experience mushing in the Yukon has informed her research. 

Hokeah reads from his book for a Creative Writing class at Park High.

Sarah Vowell, conversation with Maryanne Vollers, drew an audience of 170 to her April 2023 public lecture. Photo by William Campbell.

ERAL’s founding board members Andrea PeacockMaryanne Vollers, and Marc Beaudin toast the oragnization’s 10th Anniversary. Photo by Anthony Pavkovich.

Environmental historian Bathsheba Demuth speaks about her book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait. Photo by Ethan Ash. 

Demuth visits with community members while signing books. 

Past 2023 Lecture Series Events

March 2

Oscar Hokeah

March 2, 2023

Elk River Books
122 S. 2nd St.
Livingston, MT 59047


7 pm

Oscar Hokeah published his debut novel, Calling for a Blanket Dance, in July 2022. Author Susan Power called it “Stunning.” 

Join us for a book discussion before Hokeah’s lecture! The Community Book Club will take place on February 23. To RSVP, email director@elkriverarts.org. 

Author photo by Dalton Perse. 



Oscar Hokeah’s debut novel is Calling for a Blanket Dance. This “electric debut takes us into the life of Ever Geimausaddle, whose family—part Mexican, part Native American—is determined to hold onto their community despite obstacles everywhere they turn.” The novel was recently nominated for a Pen/Hemingway Award and longlisted for the 2023 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction.

Hokeah is a regionalist Native American writer of literary fiction, interested in capturing intertribal, transnational, and multicultural aspects within two tribally specific communities: Tahlequah and Lawton, Oklahoma. He was raised inside these tribal circles and continues to reside there today. He is a citizen of Cherokee Nation and the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma from his mother (Hokeah and Stopp families), and he has Mexican heritage from his father (Chavez family) who emigrated from Aldama, Chihuahua, Mexico.

Hokeah holds an M.A. in English from the University of Oklahoma, with a concentration in Native American Literature. He also holds a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA), with a minor in Indigenous Liberal Studies. He is the recipient of many scholarships and awards, and has written for Poets & Writers, Literary Hub, World Literature Today, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere.

“Oscar Hokeah is the real deal. A new voice with ancient music,” offers Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The House of Broken Angels.

In addition to writing, Hokeah has spent nearly 20 years empowering Native American communities. Currently, living in his home town of Tahlequah, Oklahoma (in the heart of Cherokee Nation), he works with Indian Child Welfare, where he gives back to the community that nurtured and embedded the Indigenous values he passes along to his children.

Hokeah’s visit is made possible by the generous support of Humanities Montana, the Community Closet, the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, and individual donors. During his visit, he will meet with students at Park High School. The free, public event will include a book signing and reception.

April 20

Sarah Vowell

April 20, 2023

Shane Lalani Center for the Arts Dulcie Theater
415 E. Lewis St. 
Livingston, MT 59047


7 pm

Sarah Vowell is the bestselling Author of The Wordy Shipmates and Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.

The presentation will take place in an interview format with noted author and ghost writer Maryanne Vollers, whose collaborations include the memoirs of Hilary Clinton, Billie Jean King, Ashley Judd, and many more. Vollers is the author of the award-winning books The Ghosts of Mississippi and Lone Wolf.

Author photo by Owen Brooker.

Sarah Vowell is the New York Times bestselling author of seven nonfiction books on American history and culture. By examining the connections between the American past and present, she offers personal, often humorous accounts of American history as well as current events and politics. 

She is also the author of two essay collections, The Partly Cloudy Patriot and Take the Cannoli. She was guest editor for The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017.

Vowell was a contributing editor for the public radio show This American Life from 1996-2008, where she produced numerous commentaries and documentaries and toured the country in many of the program’s live shows. She was one of the original contributors to McSweeney’s, also participating in many of the quarterly’s readings and shows. She has been a columnist for Salon, Time, San Francisco Weekly, and is a contributing op-ed writer for the New York Times, where she writes about American history and politics, education and life in Montana.

Vowell has made numerous appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, Late Night with Conan O’Brien and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. She is the voice of teen superhero Violet Parr in Brad Bird’s Academy Award-winning The Incredibles, and its sequel, Incredibles 2, from Pixar Animation Studios.

Vowell’s visit is made possible by the generous support of Humanities Montana, the Community Closet, the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, and individual donors. During her time in Livingston, Vowell will meet with Journalism students at Park High and run a writing workshop for local teens. The free, public event will include a book signing and reception.

May 3

NBF Presents: Novels that Connect Us 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

The Livingston Depot Center
200 West Park Street, Livingston, MT


7 p.m.

This event is free but registration is required

Please join us for a very special National Book Foundation event, hosted in partnership with Elk River Arts & Lectures. A reception in honor of ERAL’s 10th Anniversary will follow.

National Book Award–honored authors Tess Gunty (The Rabbit Hutch, 2022 Fiction Winner) and Tommy Orange (There There, 2018 Fiction Longlist) follow a large cast of characters in their novels—all affected in different ways by class, gender, and their environment. Join the authors for a discussion about interwoven storytelling that builds toward a more connected, collective future. Moderated by Dr. Shane Doyle, a Montana-based scholar, writer, performing artist, and community advocate.

Dr. Shane Doyle

Tess Gunty. (Photo credit: Lauren Alexandra)

Tommy Orange. (Photo credit: Elena Seiber)

Come for the conversation, stay for the celebration! 

May 11

Bathsheba Demuth

May 11, 2023

Elk River Books
122 S. 2nd St.
Livingston, MT 59047


7 pm

Bathsheba Demuth‘s Floating Coast was named a Best Book of the the Year by Nature, NPR, Kirkus Review, and Library Journal.

Want to read and discuss Floating Coast before Demuth’s lecture? Email director@elkriverarts.org to participate in our Community Book Club. All are welcome. 

Bathsheba Demuth is writer and environmental historian specializing in the lands and seas of the Russian and North American Arctic. Her interest in northern places and cultures began when she was eighteen and moved to the village of Old Crow in the Yukon, where she trained huskies for several years. From the archive to the dog sled, she is interested in how the histories of people, ideas, and ecologies intersect. In addition to her prize-winning book Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait, her writing has appeared in publications from The American Historical Review to The New Yorker and The Best American Science and Nature Writing. She is currently the Dean’s Associate Professor of History and Environment and Society at Brown University.

Published in 2019, Floating Coast is the first-ever comprehensive history of Beringia, the Arctic land and waters stretching from Russia to Canada. Whales and walruses, caribou and fox, gold and oil: through these resources Demuth draws a vivid portrait of the sweeping effects of turning ecological wealth into economic growth and state power over the past century and a half. More urgent in a warming climate, and as we seek new economic ideas for a postindustrial age, Floating Coast delivers necessary warnings and poses provocative questions about human desires and needs in relation to environmental sustainability.

Writer Robert Macfarlane called Floating Coast “A brilliant hybrid…Often reminiscent to me of Barry Lopez’s Arctic Dreams in its combination of rigorous research, intense looking and listening, and its clear ethical vision.”

Recently, a series of essays Demuth’s essays, “Postcards from the Floating Coast,” appeared on BBC Radio 3’s The Essay. Demuth is currently conducting research on the Yukon River watershed.

Demuth’s visit is made possible by the generous support of Humanities Montana, the Community Closet, the Dennis & Phyllis Washington Foundation, and individual donors. During her time in Livingston, Demuth will meet with students at Park High. The free, public event will include a book signing and reception.