2016 GIA Conference
Saint Paul, MN   October 16–19
A Confluence of People, Cultures, and Ideas

Conference Events


Sunday Newcomers Reception

This casual event for first-time conference attendees will provide a quick overview of conference events to help you get the most out of your conference experience. You will also have the opportunity to meet GIA’s board members and staff. The reception will be held in the Kellogg 1 room. The conference Opening Reception will follow immediately after this event.

Sunday Opening Reception

The Opening Reception will take place on Sunday evening in the beautiful Great River Ballroom of the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront. The hotel, owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, is located alongside the Mississippi River in vibrant downtown Saint Paul. In 2016, the Mille Lacs Band completed a multi-million-dollar remodel of the hotel, upgrading it to a luxury four-star rating. The hotel’s Great River Ballroom features floor-to-ceiling windows with a view of the Mississippi River.

Charanga Tropical

A highlight of the evening will be a live performance from Charanga Tropical, a Cuban dance music ensemble featuring the traditional charanga instrumentation of flute, three violins, vocalists, and a full Latin rhythm section. The band’s repertoire features classic danzónes as well as a vibrant mix of modern salsa and original compositions. Charanga Tropical was founded in 2006 by longtime jazz saxophonist turned Latin flutist Doug Little, who has received numerous awards and fellowships, including from the Jerome Foundation, The McKnight Foundation, and Minnesota State Arts Board. In 2015, Charanga Tropical became first American ensemble ever invited to participate in Cuba's International Danzón Festival. As part of its landmark tour, Charanga Tropical recorded their new album entitled In Cuba at the legendary EGREM studios, famous for the Buena Vista Social Club album and many others.


Monday Dine-Arounds

Taking advantage of being in downtown Saint Paul, this year’s Dine-Arounds will include a wonderful variety of cuisines and experiences. These no-host, informal dinners offer a chance to socialize with colleagues and experience the vibrant diversity of Saint Paul and its food scene. Signup will be onsite at conference registration on Monday. Participation is first-come, first-served.

Find your group at 6:15pm in the Mississippi Garden Court East. Departure will begin as soon as groups can gather.


A Celebration on the Mississippi River

On Tuesday evening, conference attendees will gather on the shore of the Mississippi River for a special program and dinner at the Clarence W. Wigington Pavilion from 5:30pm – 8:00pm. The pavilion is located at Harriet Island Regional Park near one of the most significant landmarks in the Twin Cities: the confluence of the Minnesota and Mississippi Rivers and the birthplace of the Dakota and home to the Ojibwe/Anishinaabe people.

Native Pride Dancers

The evening’s program will celebrate the rich Native American history of the region, with a special performance by Native Pride Dancers, a group which brings an innovative blend of modern and traditional Native American dance styles. The performers’ regalia are adorned with vivid assortments of brightly-colored ribbons, feathers, and beads, all of which honor their nations’ elders. Native Pride Dancers describes their dance as “contemporary, yet primal, as [they] use every muscle and breath to express [their] rich, cultural heritage.” The group has performed at the Olympics, The Kennedy Center, the Smithsonian, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and annually at the Minnesota State Fair.

Dinner for the evening will be provided by The Sioux Chef, a Native American catering company led by Chef Sean Sherman, Oglala Lakota. Sherman’s cuisine focuses on the “pre-reservation” indigenous knowledge of wild and traditionally cultivated food history, flavor, and culinary technique. Mr. Sherman was recently featured in The New York Times. And Faye Brown at Tanka Fund – an organization committed to returning buffalo to the lands, diets, and economies of American Indian people – had this to say about Sherman:

“He’s created a new understanding of what it means to eat ‘local.’ His business is about celebrating the bounty of delicious and nutritious foods that were harvested and cultivated by indigenous peoples, pre-contact, and in doing this, he’s sparking conversation about the relationship between what we eat, the ecosystem we live in and the health of both.”

Additionally, five local indigenous artists will present traditional and contemporary artworks in the Mni Sota Artists Marketplace, an art fair curated by poet, writer, and filmmaker Heid E. Erdrich. Mni Sota, meaning “Cloudy Waters,” is the Dakota name for the state that artists Jim Denomie, Marlena Myles, Gordon Coons, Carolyn Lee Anderson, and Sarah Agaton Howes call home. In addition to these artists, the marketplace will also include books, jewelry, and indigenous food items from Birchbark Books, owned by renowned native author Louise Erdrich. (Cash or Check may be required for purchase.)