In 1992, nearly 400 Native writers and storytellers from all around the Americas gathered at the University of Oklahoma (OU) at what would prove to be watershed event for Native literature. Titled, “Returning the Gift: A Festival of Native North American Writers,” this historic event— held 500 years after the arrival of Columbus—birthed two sister organizations: Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers (Wordcraft), a mentoring organization, and Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas (NWCA), a professional association. The event also spawned two very successful anthologies, the first edited by Joseph Bruchac, published by the University of Arizona Press, and supported by the Association for the Study of Native American Literatures (ASAIL), Returning the Gift: Poetry and Prose from the First North American Native Writers' Festival. Made up of the 200 best submissions from conference attendees, this volume—still in print some twenty-three years later—contains the work of writers who were more established in 1992 such as Linda Hogan, Simon Ortiz, and Elizabeth Woody, but also writers who were yet emerging, such as the young Sherman Alexie. The other volume, Reclaiming the Vision: Native Voices for the Eighth Generation, edited by Wordcraft founder Lee Francis, III, along with Bruchac, is also still in print, creating a space for the voices of younger and less experienced writers and provided inspiration for much subsequent writing by American Indians, particularly young people (Francis, “About” xi).  

This year, as we gather to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of RTG, we are accepting submissions for two volumes to be edited by RTG President Dr. Kimberly Wieser.  Gathering at Our Headwaters: Poetry and Prose from the 25th Anniversary American Indian & Indigenous Storytelling and Literary Festival and its companion volume, Gathering at Our Headwaters: Scholarship from the 25th Anniversary American Indian & Indigenous Storytelling and Literary Festival, will include poetry, fiction, drama, art, storytelling, nonfiction, and scholarly work focusing on or including as a key aspect our life giving waters, including writing that has sprung from water-related activism such as that of the water protectors at Standing Rock in North Dakota in 2016 that resisted the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline by Energy Transfer Partners.


Conference participants may submit 3-5 poems, drawings, or photographs; short stories and nonfiction essays (8000 word maximum); and/or academic articles (10,000 word maximum). Other genres such as plays and screenplays will also be considered. You may submit once in each genre.  Art and photographs must be 300 dpi. Writing should be submitted in MS Word files or PDFs.

Please email all submissions to along with your affiliation/institution.