Of Gratitude and Sharing
Joy Harjo, U.S. Poet Laureate
Amid so much negativity and despairing world news, there truly is a voice of love and hope
that resonates and inspires. That voice belongs to Joy Harjo. The first Native American to take on the
mantle of U.S. Poet Laureate, Harjo embodies grace and wisdom and perhaps offers a much-needed
panacea that our country seeks.
Harjo was born in 1951, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the eldest of four children. Harjo’s father was Muscogee Creek, her mother Cherokee, French, and Irish. A member of the Mvskoke Nation, her path to poetry was never linear. If art is life, then she found life in all forms of art.
Communicating Tribal Values
The Leadership of Janine Pease
Strong, articulate Native American women have long been leaders in the tribal college and university (TCu) movement. Janine Pease (Crow) is one of these women, and the entirety of her life’s work embodies the indefatigable advocacy that so often characterizes those who lead. over the years, Pease has shared with many Native women leaders the vision that accountability, autonomy, and the interconnection of values and educational goals remain focal points. For Pease, these criteria, along with self-determination, go straight to the heart of tribal college philosophy.
Book Learning and Life Lessons
Chris Sindone of Haskell Indian Nations University
At 28, Chris Sindone (Pawnee of Oklahoma) has already learned some difficult life lessons. A senior in business at Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas, Sindone is learning to be what he calls “a creative problem solver.” Problem-solving is a skill Sindone learned the hard way, and one he wishes to nurture in young tribal members. An avid reader, Sindone is a top student and is in his second term as president of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium (AIHEC) Student Congress.
Culture, Symbolism, and Practicality in American Indian Art
Indigenous people have always created what colonial language labels art. Yet there is no Native word for “art” as defined in a Euro-American sense. Art, as the dominant culture envisions, is mostly ornamental. This is in sharp juxtaposition to a Native perspective, which sees art as integrative, inclusive, practical, and constantly evolving. There is no past or present terminology that can define tribal art.
In the Mohawk language, what “is pleasing to the eyes” exists along a continuum ............
Wild Food Summit
Anishinaabe relearning traditional gathering practices
The Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) people of the White Earth Reservation in White Earth, MN, have always been involved in the harvesting of rice, maple syrup, and berries. On the land that they own, which encompasses more than 70,000 acres, they also hunt and fish. Yet health problems plague the tribal members, primarily because of the government foods that were forced on them when they were settled on the reservation.o f the many people there beginning to involve themselves with projects that promote a healthy and traditional way of eating and living, Winona LaDuke (Anishinaabe) is the best known. A Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer, LaDuke founded Honor ............
The Art of Storytelling
Reshaping and preserving traditions
“When we speak, we use language conceptually. We can’t be glib with our language. We cannot throw the beloved away.” Simon Ortiz (Acoma Pueblo) said this several years ago during a writer’s conference in New York City. Ortiz is a well-known poet and the ultimate storyteller. For him, storytelling is as much about education as entertainment. It is through storytelling that each tribe’s history, moral precepts, and spirituality are passed down from one generation to the next.
This attention to the holistic value of storytelling and its link to community is understood by Kevin “Hoch” Decora (Lakota) who teaches .......
In the Shadow of the Iron Horse
A Young Voice in Poetry: Erika T. Wurth
Glancing at the cover of Erika T. Wurth’s book of poems, Indian Trains, one is struck by the photo of an abandoned, graffiti-sprayed boxcar sitting steadfastly in the middle of semi arid plains. Painted across this red-rusted remnant in bold white vertical letters are the words" Ghost Train.” The photo alone is enough to conjure the chilling history of the “iron horse,” which helped eradicate the Great Plains Indian cultures. But Wurth, with her sharp wit and edgy awareness of irony, is set from the start to sever stereotypes and challenge the reader to recognize, as she has through her remarkable craft, the 21st-century Indian. Her opening poem, “Grandma Was a Beat Poet,” makes this clear. I’m uncomfortable with .......
Leading the way
Tribal colleges prepare students to address climate change
Across the United States, tribal people are noticing adverse changes in the natural world due
to climate change—and these changes affect their cultures. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, tribes depend on salmon fisheries not only as a source of food but also for survival of their cultural well-being. The depletion of salmon due to the increase in water temperature could be devastating. From a purely monetary standpoint, the loss of jobs that are tied to the annual return of the salmon will be detrimental to many Indigenous households. Subsistence cultures, such as .......