Archives For poetry

I know things have been quiet around here for a few weeks, and I apologize. I’ve been traveling all over the place talking, and talking, and talking some more. I had great visits to ASU and Columbia, and was supposed to be on an awesome panel with Phil Deloria, Suzan Harjo, and Carla Fredericks in NYC, but it was unfortunately postponed (I’ll keep you posted when we decide on a new date). I also finally got to meet Simon Moya Smith, the man behind I Am Not A Mascot, and we had a great conversation about Native activism in the 21st century, hate mail, identity, and more. It was great to connect with folks and hear so many ideas about the future of this fight and how my blog might fit into that larger movement, and hearing stories and words of encouragement from fellow activists who have been at this longer than me was so inspiring.
So I’m back at my desk in Boston, and ready to tackle some big things. But first, a lot of great Indian videos have crossed my path in the last few days, so I thought I would share some inspiring and entertaining Native videos to start the week off right. 

First up, my good friend H. (won’t call him out in case he’s embarrassed because he’s wearing tons of eyeliner) makes his 1491s debut playing none other than Johnny Depp. So I know it’s been awhile since we’ve chatted about our dear friend Johnny Depp-as-Tonto, but in case you forgot, posts here, here, here, and here. Backstory: Johnny Depp was adopted by LaDonna Harris (Comanche). This is an actual account of what happened at his adoption ceremony:

Next, as some of you know, I work closely with an amazing organization called College Horizons, and a couple of years ago one of our students, Koli, sang this song at our Traditional Night. She’s a Yurok, Karuk, and Hupa student who’s now at UH, and in this song sings about the politics of “looking Indian.” Love it. She also comes from an awesome family, her dad is a Stanford alum and filmmaker, and her sister is a current Stanford student (you know how I love my Stanford connections):

Then, this beautiful and tear-jerking letter to Native Youth is powerful and important (it was inspired by the 1491s/Dallas Goldtooth’s letter to Native women, which I’ve shared here before, and is also worth a watch):

Finally, one of my twitter-follower-friends R. Vincent Moniz tweeted out this fantastic video of a poem about Halloween/Cultural Appropriation/Redface that he performed at a Native poetry night. It’s awesome. I love the Native Approps references sprinkled throughout. :) The poem starts at 6:48 (though his other stuff is good too!):

Ok, a personal plug too. Back in October I was interviewed by a cool Native filmmaker/scholar Myrton RunningWolf for a webseries called “Well Red”. The trailer for the series is here:

and then the teaser trailer for my interview is here (full interview will be up soon!):

Hope these help you get through the remainder of your Monday, and if you’ve got more Native videos we should see, share the links in the comments!

(Thanks H., Koli, Carly, Lyla, Vincent, and Myrt!)

On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City

The white woman across the aisle from me says ‘Look,
look at all the history, that house
on the hill there is over two hundred years old, ‘
as she points out the window past me

into what she has been taught. I have learned
little more about American history during my few days
back East than what I expected and far less
of what we should all know of the tribal stories

whose architecture is 15,000 years older
than the corners of the house that sits
museumed on the hill. ‘Walden Pond, ‘
the woman on the train asks, ‘Did you see Walden Pond? ‘

and I don’t have a cruel enough heart to break
her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds
on my little reservation out West
and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane,

the city I pretended to call my home. ‘Listen, ‘
I could have told her. ‘I don’t give a shit
about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories
around that pond before Walden’s grandparents were born

and before his grandparents’ grandparents were born.
I’m tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too,
because that’s redundant. If Don Henley’s brothers and sisters
and mothers and father hadn’t come here in the first place

then nothing would need to be saved.’
But I didn’t say a word to the woman about Walden
Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted
that I thought to bring her an orange juice

back from the food car. I respect elders
of every color. All I really did was eat
my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi
and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out

another little piece of her country’s history
while I, as all Indians have done
since this war began, made plans
for what I would do and say the next time

somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.

 –Sherman Alexie

(Poem found here)

AK thoughts: Bree posted this in the comments on my post yesterday on activist fatigue and daily interactions, and I was so taken aback by the relevance and power. Especially since I live in Boston, and I deal with the “there is so much history here!” comments constantly. I do have mixed feelings about Sherman Alexie sometimes, but then there are moments of clarity and realness in his work, like this poem, that remind me why I loved his pieces in the first place. So, I found strength in knowing that even the arguably best know Native author out there struggles and deals with these feelings, just like me.

(Thanks so much Bree!)