Ordinary People Doing Extraordinary Things: Keynote Speakers at the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering

Elko Convention Center Auditorium
700 Moren Way
Elko, Nevada
Thursday, February 1, 2018
9:15 a.m.
10:30 a.m.

Every year, the keynote address sets the tone for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering, featuring speakers whose words and work embody the substance and creativity of living life in the American West. This year, the keynote will be by ordinary people doing extraordinary things, people whose grit, ingenuity and creativity are helping us all rethink how to "make it" in today's West. The keynote encourages every Gathering-goer to come together, listen and reflect on resonant themes in rural Western life. Think of it as a cultural grange hallyou won't want to miss it!

The opening keynote features three speakers with quite different stories, backgrounds and home places in rural corners of the American West. All three—with help from community, friends and family—are making significant contributions to a healthy present and future for this region. The Keynote address for the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering is presented in collaboration with Great Basin College and sponsored by Nevada Humanities.

Nephi Craig, pictured here, is one of three speakers giving the keynote address. The other two speakers are Eric Trigg, New Mexico rancher, and Emily Nielsen, a teacher in Elko, Nevada.

When White Mountain Apache/Navajo Nephi Craig enrolled in culinary school, there was nothing like "Native American Cuisine 101" in the curriculum. Upon graduating, Nephi launched the Native American Culinary Association, a network devoted to the development and preservation of Native American foodways. Nephi has now brought it all home to Whiteriver, Arizona, to establish a Western Apache Café and Learning Center to provide local opportunities for nutritional recovery, training and employment.

Can a family ranch survive more than two or three generations? Rancher and commercial pilot Eric Trigg shares some of the ways his extended family has creatively ensured that their 100-year-old family ranch, located in northeastern New Mexico, will remain in the family for future generations.

When the Western Folklife Center pitched the idea of bringing cowboy poets and reciters into Elko-area high school English classrooms to nurture new skills, there was much trepidation. Hear about this experiment from Elko High School teacher Emily Nielson, who along with teacher Kelly Moon has introduced Randy Rieman, Joel Nelson and Paul Zarzyski to hundreds of young writers and reciters.