The Madison Public Library and Ho-Chunk Gaming are collaborating to host a Storyteller-In-Residence program at the library from Oct. 11 to Dec. 18 to engage the community in creative, intercultural learning opportunities.

The program will host art workshops, activity kits, story times, social media sharing and exhibits to provide ways for the Madison community to celebrate and learn about Indigenous culture. Each story time will have an original narrative created by Ho-Chunk Nation storyteller and tribal member Andi Cloud, who talks about different aspects of Ho-Chunk culture, according to the City of Madison webpage.

Cloud said she plans to talk about the history of the Ho-Chunk community, kinship, harvest season and life in America. There has already been a positive response from the Madison community, and she believes it will open more doors to talking about different cultures and the people within them.

“I just want people to walk away with, you know, something they can take away from this and say, ‘Oh yeah, I know the Ho-Chunk, this is their land, these are the people and they’re still here and a part of us,'” Cloud said. “‘We’re all together in this, we’re all family.”

The program is inspired by Vancouver Public Library’s Indigenous Storyteller in Residence program, which intends to promote intercultural understanding and story sharing, according to the Vancouver Public Library webpage.

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There will also be displays in Madison public libraries showing a variety of traditional dress and regalia, and a Ho-Chunk flag will hang on the lower level at Central Library. The residency has the intention to make space for healing and connection in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and movements for racial justice, according to the City of Madison webpage.

Digital Services and Marketing Manager at Madison Public Library Tana Elias said this is not the first time the library has hosted a program of this type.

In the past, different library locations have worked with local artists to provide a space for storytellers to share their stories with the Madison community. She said the Madison Public Library prioritizes working with community groups to uplift their perspectives and narratives.

“This program came about because Madison Public Library has made an intentional effort to focus a lot of our programming in the last few years on highlighting voices of color in particular, and focusing on equity in multiple areas,” Elias said. “We really want to broaden our outreach to community groups and build our relationships with community groups.”

The public library aims to work closely with Ho-Chunk Gaming Madison and other local representatives to make sure the materials they put together for the residency are crafted with the correct language, Elias said.

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Elias also said the library staff feels the library provides an accessible vehicle to communicate these stories. By providing a platform for these communities to tell their own stories, she said it makes the learning experience more intimate.