In conjunction with the release of his forthcoming novel, Reclaiming Mni Sota, author Colin Mustful is launching a campaign to raise $10,000 to fund an Indigenous Writers Grant. The grant will be awarded to one Indigenous writer who is pursuing creative writing as their career. But your help is needed to make this effort successful. Please continue reading to learn more.
Why This Is Important
As an independent author and historian, I have written extensively about the complex, often tragic, transitional period of American history when settler-colonialism and U.S. government policy displaced Native peoples from their land. While writing about this history, I have learned not only the history, but also the legacy of marginalization and exploitation that has created unequal access and opportunity to many of the privileges from which I, as a white male, benefit. This includes my education and the opportunity to use my eduction to convey history to others through my own experience and perspective. Unfortunately, in doing so, I’m at risk of perpetuating a tradition of historical and cultural appropriation.
Cultural Appropriation is the process by which members of the dominant society claim ownership over the way in which the views, history, and culture of members of the non-dominant society are portrayed and therefore perceived. It begins as an intentional form of discrimination and erasure, but, over time, becomes seamlessly intertwined into the fabric of society until it’s almost unnoticeable. That’s what I was up against when I first began reading and writing about The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862. A century-and-a-half earlier the dominant society took control of the narrative and then perpetuated that narrative until it was almost impossible to recognize the truth of our history. Furthermore, my ability to understand and convey the history was skewed by my own inherent biases and ethnocentrism—something we’re all challenged with unless we actively seek to break down those biases.
Therefore, I’ve come to recognize—and I hope you will too—that no matter how well intentioned we are, it is a significant problem when one viewpoint controls a single narrative. And, because of the issues of inequality mentioned above, there is a dearth of Native voices in popular culture. The fact is that the historiography of events like The U.S. – Dakota War of 1862 is vast, but it’s lacking a diversity of voices. Unless we recognize the problem and actively work to confront our biases, that will never change.
That’s why, in conjunction with the upcoming release of my alternative history novel, Reclaiming Mni Sota: An Alternative History of the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, I am creating an Indigenous Writers Grant. By reserving your copy of Reclaiming Mni Sota, you’ll be contributing to the Reclaiming Mni Sota Indigenous Writers Grant.
While I will continue to study and write about events of the past, I would like to support efforts to add more Indigenous voices to the body of storytelling about our past that already exists. Specifically, through your help, I’d like to provide funding for one Indigenous writer to share their story, their perspective, their truth. You can contribute to this effort by making a donation, of any amount, to this GoFundMe page. Your entire contribution will go to one Indigenous writer chosen through an application process who can show a need and demonstrate their intentions to share stories about the past through creative writing. Additionally, I will contibute $1 from the pre-sale and sale of every copy of Reclaiming Mni Sota (through ALL distribution channels, in-person and online) from June 1, 2023 to December 31, 2023. Finally, I will contribute 100% of my speaking fees to the grant that are booked prior to December 31, 2023.
Are you an Indigenous writer from one of the eleven federally recognized Indian tribes within Minnesota? Click the button below to learn more about applying for the Indigenous Writers Grant.
Do you represent an organization that would like to advocate for the Reclaiming Mni Sota Indigenous Writers Grant? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Details and Disclaimers
This grant is an effort of Colin Mustful and History Through Fiction and is supported by its contributors and advocates. It is not directly affiliated with any other person or organization.
The full award will amount to the total earned through the GoFundMe campaign less fees and taxes. Therefore, the final total may not be equal to $10,000.
The fundraising period for this grant begins June 1, 2023 and ends December 31, 2023. There will be no further contributions made after December 31, 2023.
The application period begins June 1, 2023 and ends November 1, 2023. The awardee will be chosen through a reviewal process by Colin Mustful, History Through Fiction, and others to be determined. The awardee will be selected and notified prior to January 1, 2024. The awardee will be made public on January 1, 2024. The grant will be awarded by check on a date to be determined but which shall be given no later than April 1, 2024.
The awardee must be an enrolled member of one of the eleven federally recognized Indian Tribes in Minnesota.
The awardee agrees to provide the History Through Fiction and Colin Mustful audiences bi-yearly updates via their respective newsletters and blog on how the grant is being used for two years following receipt of the grant funds.