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Essay Contest


One Book One Northwestern is awarding a $500 prize for the best essay response under 1000 words, which responds to this year’s prompt:

In her book, The Night Watchman, Louise Erdrich tells the story of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa tribe, who organized and fought against the U.S. government’s efforts to "terminate" their nation. This tribe traveled to Washington D. C. in August of 1953 to stand against a bill that would end their treaty rights – their sovereignty and self-determination as a nation – that was made through treaty during the formation of the United States. It is a story of how a small group of people organize as a collective to insist on their rights to exist and change the course of their history. Some might argue that it is a "classic underdog" story where the underdog prevails. Others might argue that the power of collectives can accomplish just ends.

Drawing on your own experiences, are there similar stories that you’ve heard about or witnessed (including in your own family or community)? What does this experience tell you about the relationships between individuals, the collective, and societies? What might it tell you about larger questions of justice or equity?

Only incoming first-year and transfer students are eligible to participate. Please submit your essay via this linked Google Form by 11:59 pm, Sunday, September 15, 2024, Central Standard time (CST). Please include your name, email address, and title on the submitted essay.

A committee of Northwestern faculty, selected by One Book, will review each submission. The winner of the contest will be announced in October.