FBCC receives gift of literature

Aug 15th, 2012 | By | Category: 24-1: Communicating Yesterday's Stories Today, Tribal College News
By Quincee Baker

READING FOR THE FUTURE. From left to right: Quincee Baker, library services director at Fort Berthold Community College; Dr. Romaine Jesky-Smith; and President Russell Mason Jr. Photo by Shannon Fox

Dr. Romaine Jesky-Smith, widow of the late Paul E. Smith, a professor of Native American literature at Geneva College in Pennsylvania, and her family have awarded about 1,000 titles related to Native American literature to Fort Berthold Community College (FBCC, New Town, ND) Library and Learning Resource Center.

While visiting the tribal college and donating the books, Jesky-Smith explained that in the early 1980s, when Professor Smith prepared to teach an American literature survey course, he noticed that many of the anthologies began with the colonial period. She said that her late husband wondered about such questions as: “When does American literature start? What literature should be included in a survey course?” That sparked his interest in teaching and collecting Native American literature.

FBCC is a fitting home for these materials. Two of FBCC’s core tenets are constructivist teaching and inquiry based learning. Literature and reading are deeply intertwined with enhancing students’ abilities and ways of learning. Significantly, FBCC English department Chair Dr. Waylon Baker points out that in a recent survey he learned that many incoming students had not read significant works by Leslie Marmon Silko, N. Scott Momaday, Gerald Vizenor, Vine Deloria, Louise Erdrich, Joy Harjo, Simon Ortiz, Sherman Alexie, or James Welch.

Furthermore, the tribal college was recently accredited by the regional higher education accreditation body to offer baccalaureate degrees in Native American Studies, Elementary Education with a minor in Middle School Math, Elementary Education with a minor in Middle School Science, and Environmental Science. The Native American literature collection assembled by Smith will contribute to students earning any of the new baccalaureate degrees. As graduates, FBCC’s teacher education students will go on to instruct at local K-12 schools. What and how they learn at FBCC, and the access and availability of library resources, will positively impact the next generation. The Native Studies program is central to developing students’ abilities, empowering the individual, and promoting lifelong learning.

The Paul E. Smith Collection will be used extensively by both students and faculty engaged in Native American literary research at FBCC.

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