Wordcraft Circle began with a vision and a promise. Almost thirty years later, that vision continues as there are still many, many more stories to tell and share.,
IN THE LONG AGO TIME.
Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers was founded in 1993 by Lee Francis III after attending the first Returning the Gift gathering of Native writers and storytellers in Norman, Oklahoma. Dr. Francis wanted to honor the memory of a former student who had passed away during the gathering by creating an organization that would continue to promote the work of Native American writers and storytellers.
Throughout the 1990′s, Dr. Francis helped promote the work of numerous Native American and Indigenous writers, both emerging and professional, throughout North and South America. Writers such as Joseph Bruchac, Dianne Glancy, MariJo Moore, Chris Eyre, and E.K. Caldwell were all a part of the organization during it’s first decade. For over ten years, Wordcraft connected hundreds of Native writers in gatherings throughout the U.S.
In 2003, Dr. Francis passed away after a short struggle with cancer and the organization was inherited by Dr. Kimberly Roppolo and Dr. Francis' son, Lee Francis 4.
In 2010, Lee Francis 4 was appointed the full-time Executive Director and President of the Board to continue his father’s legacy and further the work of Native writers and storytellers throughout the world. Since that time Dr Francis 4 has taken on many roles and responsibilities including, founding the Indigenous Comic Con and Red Planet Books and Comics.
As Wordcraft nears it's 30th anniversary, we continue to promote the works and words of Native writers, storytellers and creatives and continue to honor the legacy of Dr. Lee III the with the Wordcraft Circle Award that bears his name and more importantly with the numerous books, stories, and creative expressions by, for, and about Native and Indigenous Peoples.
MISSION: To support the work and words of Native and Indigenous people in order to strengthen the impact of their voices in asserting community sovereignty, individual self-determination, traditional and cultural values, and creative expression.
VISION: To ensure the voices of Native American and Indigenous writers and storytellers – past, present, and future – are heard throughout the world!
Our values guide us in all the work we do to support Native writers and storytellers. Our values define Wordcraft as the oldest Native writing organization in the United States.
The center of all our work is story. It is what sustained our people through the darkest times. We honor and celebrate the stories in all we do.
As an Indigenous organization, we do not act on our own but always as a community; seeking to connect and collaborate.
Our work is done with a good spirit and a good heart that gives more than it receives.
We seek to ensure the highest quality of work produced by our members and the organization itself.
Our work and words will look to find the most authentic and genuine way to represent Native and Indigenous communities.
To support the work and words of Native and Indigenous people in order to strengthen the impact of their voices in asserting community sovereignty, individual self-determination, traditional and cultural values, and creative expression.
Wordcraft was founded in 1992 as a mentorship organization and this still forms the core of our work. Connecting emerging and professional writers and storytellers is key to ensuring sustainability for Indigenous stories and communities as we navigate through an age of radical change and uncertainty. By creating strong mentorships and dynamic collaborations, we honor those who have helped pave the way by accessing their wisdom and generosity in order to develop the necessary skills to succeed as a writer or storyteller.
Wordcraft has long had a focus on education and intellectual development. From our workshops to our gatherings, our education component seeks to create an understanding of the mechanics of creating good stories, as well as, highlighting the skills and attributes that entail a productive writing and/or storytelling career. Our educational programming seeks to engage all ages and skill levels in synthesizing knowledge and productivity in a way that aligns with Indigenous community values, as well as the core values of Wordcraft. Further, our educational efforts will help to bridge the understandings between youth and elders so that all benefit from the course, process, workshop, or gathering.
To achieve our mission, Wordcraft is engaged in creating awareness about the importance of Native and Indigenous writers and storytellers. To this end, we are vocal proponents of the contributions of said writers and storytellers and their tremendous impact on the general public. We will continue to press for recognition, acceptance, and understanding of Native and Indigenous stories in all their myriad forms.
To ensure the voices of Native and Indigenous writers and storytellers are heard throughout the world, Wordcraft is dedicated to promoting the works of members and non-members alike. We have established partnerships with a number of publishing companies so as to provide an outlet for creative work and we are developing museum exhibits, traveling presentations and online forums to highlight the work of Native and Indigenous writers and storytellers.