VANCOUVER – Historical fiction, Native American history, the culture of the Oglala Lakota Sioux and contemporary music will converge at a signature event hosted by WSU Vancouver March 22-26. James Welch’s award-winning novel, “The Heartsong of Charging Elk,” is the foundation for the four-lecture and concert event.

The lectures will be held at 7 p.m. March 22-25 on campus in the Administration building. The concert will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, March 26, at the Vancouver School of Arts and Academics.
Operating in conjunction with the WSU Vancouver program, the Pullman campus will host a one-night program including three lecturers, a musical performance and a reception. It will be 5:30-9 p.m. Saturday, March 27, in Kimbrough 101.
All events are free to the public.

The symposium will explore the themes of displacement, intercultural collision and accommodation in Welch’s last novel about Lakota warriors transported to France in the late 19th century by “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show as players of themselves. The event also will celebrate the work of the late, 20th century writer and Blackfeet/Gros Ventre.


The lecture series will include talks by: noted Plains Indian anthropologist, linguist and editor of “Black Elk Speaks,” Raymond J. DeMallie; historian of the American West and author of “Buffalo Bill’s America,” Louis S. Warren; Native American studies professor and author of the forthcoming “’Killed Beyond Recognition:’ The Writings of James Welch,” Kathryn W. Shanley (Assiniboine-Sioux); and a conversation about the novel with Lois Welch, professor emerita of English, research collaborator and life partner of the late author.


The week will conclude with an original musical performance of “The Heartsong of Charging Elk” for four voices and a 10-piece chamber ensemble by internationally acclaimed Seattle composer and musician Wayne Horvitz, composer/songwriter Robin Holcomb and Pulitzer finalist, writer/director Rinde Eckert. Learn more at

To accompany the spring symposium, WSU Vancouver will offer a variety of programs and events open to the public, including an exhibit of rare books by James Welch and William Cody, photographs by Edward Curtis, and artifacts from “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West” show. The exhibit can be seen at the WSU Library during March and April. Click here for more information.
For more information, including directions, visit or contact Sue Peabody, professor and associate chair of history, WSU Vancouver, 360-546-9647 or

“The Heartsong of Charging Elk” is sponsored by Alphagraphics, the Heathman Hotel, Humanities Washington, The Associated Students of WSU Vancouver, and WSU Vancouver’s Office of Academic Affairs, Chancellor’s Office, College of Liberal Arts and the Diversity Council.