top of page


Knowledge awaits! 
Register for tickets today

Tommy Orange, Pulitzer Prize finalist and BIG READ selected author

National Endowment for the Arts BIG READ selected book, There There, will be discussed with award-winning author Tommy Orange. FREE event!

White and Green Christmas Greeting Facebook Cover.png

Time & Location






FREE or pay if you want, to help support our programming

MUST REGISTER ONLINE, tickets not available at the door

April 28, 2023, 6:30pm CDT

Belle Mehus Auditorium, Bismarck ND

As part of the National Endowment for the Arts BIG READ Initiative, Humanities North Dakota welcomes Tommy Orange to the Bismarck stage. Finalist for the 2019 Pulitzer Prize and recipient of the 2019 PEN/Hemingway Award, Tommy Orange’s book There There follows 12 characters from Native communities as they travel to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize. Together, this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American, “sublimely render[ing] the truth of experiences that are passed over” (San Francisco Chronicle). “Brilliantly, furiously, magnificently, tragically, the story of America” (Elle), Orange crafts a novel of “pure, soaring beauty” (New York Times Book Review), “pulling together the intimacies of family, community, history, and violence” (Rumpus). “There There drops on us like a thunderclap; the big, booming, explosive sound of twenty-first-century literature finally announcing itself,” writes award-winning novelist Marlon James. “Essential.” This event is sponsored in part by Bismarck State College's Bringing Humanities to Life


The son of a white mother and Native father and an enrolled member of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, Orange grew up in Oakland, California, with a feeling of being “both and neither”: “not white enough on the white side and not Native enough on the Native side” (Powell’s Books). Growing up during a “time of assimilation” (Guardian) further complicated Orange’s relationship to Indigenous histories, stories, and knowledge. Though Orange’s father was fluent in Cheyenne, he never taught the language to his children. “There’s a lot of pain related to the past, and I think he was wanting a fresh start, wanting to raise us in Oakland and have us figure it out for ourselves,” Orange shared with the Guardian. As an adult, Orange learned more of the details of Native histories that he’d only been aware of in the abstract. “I worked for the Native American Health Center in Oakland for a little less than a decade,” Orange noted in an interview for the National Book Critics Circle Awards in 2019. “At one point, we took—for a suicide prevention grant—youth over to Alcatraz. We had elders who had been there [during the occupation] come tell their stories. It was the first time I heard a lot [of what happened], especially the first-hand account.” This multigenerational, collaborative practice of storytelling would shape Orange’s widely acclaimed first book, There There. A graduate of the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts—where he has also taught—Orange now lives with his wife and son in Angels Camp, California.


After Tommy Orange with HND, stay in downtown Bismarck and attend the Bismarck Library Foundation's annual event The Art of Books. Doors open at 7:30pm and tickets are available here.


Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this {article, book, exhibition, film, program, database, report, Web resource}, do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities or Humanities North Dakota. However, in an increasingly polarized world, we at Humanities North Dakota believe that being open-minded is necessary to thinking critically and rationally. Therefore, our programs and classes reflect our own open-mindedness in the inquiry, seeking, and acquiring of scholars to speak at our events and teach classes for our Public University. To that end, we encourage our participants to join us in stepping outside our comfort zones and considering other perspectives and ideas by being open-minded while attending HND events featuring scholars who hold a variety of opinions, some being opposite of our own held beliefs.

bottom of page