July 24, 2014

Teresa Runnels | Movers & Shakers 2014 — Advocates

Movers2014webBigRunnelsb Teresa Runnels | Movers & Shakers 2014    Advocates

vitals

CURRENT POSITION
American Indian Resource Center Coordinator
Tulsa City-County Library

-

DEGREE
MLIS, University of Oklahoma, 2010; MS, Curriculum and Instruction, Oklahoma State University, 2001

-

VISIT
American Indian Resource Center, www.tulsalibrary.org/airc

-

Photo © 2014 Michael Pilla

-

Language Keeper

In the nine years that Teresa Runnels has been with the Tulsa City-County Library, she has been “a huge community builder for the American Indian Nations, bringing together five different nations to preserve Native American languages,” says Gary Shaffer, CEO of the library. Runnels, who is a member of the Sac and Fox Nation, was spurred by predictions that many languages would go quiet within 50 years. “Tribal languages are the key to access to an entire world of indigenous knowledge,” says Runnels. “The language opens access to tribal histories, literature, cultures, medicinal knowledge, and more.”

Preserving that verbal heritage is a complicated task, owing to the many unique traditions. The state of Oklahoma is home to 39 federally recognized tribes, many forced together by early European settlers.

Along with the County of Los Angeles Public Library, Tulsa is one of only two U.S. public libraries with a center dedicated to American Indians. As American Indian Resource Center coordinator—and founder—Runnels oversees a collection of in excess of 4,000 books, magazines, newspapers, and other media written by or about American Indians.

She also oversees native language programs. A former teacher, she’s developed a children’s curriculum in two native languages. Beginning in 2006, she worked with the Euchee Language Project and the Sauk Language department, as well as the Oklahoma Department of Education, creating math and language worksheets designed to expose young children to basic words, pronunciations, spelling, and numbers in accordance with the state education standards. The American Indian Resource Center has given away 500 packets, garnering awards from the state of Oklahoma, the Greater Tulsa Area Indian Affairs Commission, and the Tulsa Human Rights Department.

Runnels reaches out to adults with bilingual “READ” posters. Following the American Library Association’s design, the posters feature members of 12 tribes with the word “READ” in their native language and in English.

She also coordinates Osage language classes, trains tribal librarians throughout the state, and organizes two biennial celebrations honoring American Indian storytellers and leaders. “I love working with tribal members and seeing their obvious pride when they attend library programs and events dedicated to Native American culture…[and] giving children from various tribes further connection to their rich family history,” says Runnels.

Share

Comments

  1. Wonderful news!

    And–Teresa is one of the four individuals who worked on a list titled “Top 100 Books by Indigenous Masters” of literature that is available at Elizabeth Bird’s blog:

    http://blogs.slj.com/afuse8production/2014/02/26/top-100-books-by-indigenous-masters/

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind

*