Drums, song, food, and laughter accompanied the presentation of the Distinguished Service Award of the American Indian Library Association (AILA) to Loriene Roy on Saturday afternoon. The event opened with a blessing song and drumming by Charles Larabee of the Cheyenne River Sioux/Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation.
Roy, former president of both AILA and ALA, is of the Anishinaabe/White Earth Nation. She was honored by the AILA with its highest award at the event in San Francisco, coinciding with the 2015 ALA Annual Conference and Exhibition. Roy is a professor in the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, and first convener for the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions’ Special Interest Group on Indigenous Matters. She founded If I Can Read, I Can Do Anything, a national reading club for Native American children.
AILA president Zora Sampson presented Roy with a plaque, while Liana Juliano offered her replicas of art prints that will be sent to her. Paulita Aguilar wrapped her in a Pendleton blanket.
“She embodies the values that we hold dear,” said Sampson, adding that Roy has “recruited many natives and First Nation individuals, finding scholarship and grants” that enabled them to acquire their degrees, as well as mentoring the students. “She has brought honor” to the library profession, and “listens and responds with heart wisdom.”
Roy said that she never considered herself an elder, but appreciated the honor given to her. She offered her thanks in the Ojibwe language.