Bringing Native American Voices to Campus
Native American voices will enjoy a greater prominence at the University of Montana thanks to a new visiting writer fund established by Lois Welch, pictured, to honor her late husband, acclaimed author James Welch.
UM will use the James and Lois Welch Distinguished Native American Visiting Writer Fund to bring a distinguished Native American writer to campus to teach each spring semester. In the future, the position will become endowed through a significant gift included in Lois Welch’s estate plan. The endowment means her gift will be invested and the earnings made available to support the program in perpetuity.
“A gift of this magnitude has never been offered to UM’s creative writing program before, and it will certainly enhance the stature and visibility of the program,” said Professor Judy Blunt, chair of the College of Humanities and Sciences Department of English and director of UM’s Creative Writing Program.
James Welch, who spent much of his early years on the Blackfeet and Fort Belknap Reservations, is one of the Native authors credited with starting what has been termed “the Native American Renaissance” in the late 1960s, a period lauded for the significant increase in production of literary works by Native American writers.
The James and Lois Welch Distinguished Native American Visiting Writer residency honors this legacy and will start in spring 2023. Those writers selected for the program can be authors of poetry or prose and will teach a graduate creative writing workshop and an undergraduate course in Native American literature.