Louis V. Clark III will speak on his book How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century at Centennial Hall in Milwaukee on June 19th

How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century
By Louis V. Clark (Two Shoes)

Oneida author Louis V. Clark III released How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century earlier this year in February. A mix of poetry and prose, How to Be an Indian draws from Clark's life as a 'modern Indian' who attempts to hold on to his culture and tradition in the face of violence and oppression. 

Synopsis: 

In deceptively simple prose and verse, Louis V. "Two Shoes" Clark III shares his life story, from childhood on the Rez, through school and into the working world, and ultimately as an elder, grandfather, and published poet. How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century explores Clark’s deeply personal and profound take on a wide range of subjects, from schoolyard bullying to workplace racism to falling in love. Warm, plainspoken, and wryly funny, Clark’s is a unique voice talking frankly about a culture’s struggle to maintain its heritage. His poetic storytelling style matches the rhythm of the life he recounts, what he calls "the heartbeat of my nation."

Clark will be presenting his work at Centennial Hall in Milwaukee this next Monday, June 19th where he will also take part in a meet-and-greet.

More about the event:

How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century: Meet the Author Louis V. Clark III

Take a lifelong journey, in prose and verse, with Oneida author and poet Louis V. Clark III (Two Shoes), who chronicles his voyage from schoolyard bullies to workplace to discover How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century at Centennial Hall, 733 N. Eighth St., Monday, June 19, 7-8 p.m. Warm, plainspoken, and wryly funny, Clark shares his own American Indian story, talking frankly about a culture’s struggle to maintain its heritage. Co-Sponsored by Boswell Cook Company. Books available for purchase.

How to Be an Indian in the 21st Century is available through Amazon in paperback and Kindle.

New anthology, I Am Where I Come From, released from Cornell University Press

I Am Where I Come From: Native American College Students and Graduates Tell Their Life Stories is a new anthology from Cornell University Press that lets Native students from Dartmouth College tell their stories of studying while indigenous at an ivy league school. Each account is autobiographical of either a current or graduated Native American Dartmouth student. In all, thirteen Native writers took part in the anthology.

Summary:

The organizing principle for this anthology is the common Native American heritage of its authors; and yet that thread proves to be the most tenuous of all, as the experience of indigeneity differs radically for each of them. While many experience a centripetal pull toward a cohesive Indian experience, the indications throughout these essays lean toward a richer, more illustrative panorama of difference. What tends to bind them together are not cultural practices or spiritual attitudes per se, but rather circumstances that have no exclusive province in Indian country: that is, first and foremost, poverty, and its attendant symptoms of violence, substance abuse, and both physical and mental illness. . . . Education plays a critical role in such lives: many of the authors recall adoring school as young people, as it constituted a place of escape and a rare opportunity to thrive. . . . While many of the writers do return to their tribal communities after graduation, ideas about 'home' become more malleable and complicated."―from the Introduction

I Am Where I Come From: Native American College Students and Graduates Tell Their Life Stories can be bought through the publisher or through Amazon. Amazon does have a Kindle edition available

The Dartmouth also wrote about the anthology:

Not all the transitions or experiences at Dartmouth were easy for the narrators, but one central theme that shines throughout the book is the bastion of support, community and familiarity that the Native American studies department and the Native American House provided them. As discussed in the preface, these were both initiatives launched under former College President John Kemeny in the 1970s that are cited by multiple alumni in the anthology as a source of support for Native American students at Dartmouth. While Dartmouth was completely new and foreign for many of these students upon their arrival to campus, the fact that they had a community to rely upon often made the transition much easier and provided a home during their time here.

NDN Lit is now on Facebook and Pinterest

Connect with NDN Lit on Facebook here.

I started NDN Lit a couple years ago, first in blog form then in Twitter form then in newsletter form, to help inform Natives and non-Natives alike about indigenous literature, authors, book news, and culture. I saw a gap in information concerning Indigenous literature that I wanted to help fill. Daniel Heath Justice and others have done their work to share NDN literature on social networks and beyond, so I wanted to help by creating another outlet for it. I haven't been able to make NDN Lit what I wanted to originally, a stand-alone website that offered new content alongside news and more, because of Grad school, so it's turned into an email newsletter. And I'm fine with that. Other people are doing better jobs at creating websites that shine a light on indigenous authors than I could ever dream of doing.

I'll send emails.

But NDN Lit on Twitter is still going strong, gaining new followers and interactions every day. So far, Twitter has been the most vibrant connection.

NDN Lit on Facebook is new and flailing. I don't want to keep it going if no one cares to interact there, so I'm going to let it live for maybe six months and then do another viability test to see how many followers and interactions occur. 

I've also added NDN Lit to Pinterest because their system of categorization might help to create order out of all the posts I share. I have several boards up on the different categories of information I share, so that's available for anyone who's interested. I'm not an avid user of Pinterest otherwise, so I may be doing things wrong. 

If you're new to NDN Lit, check out past issues and subscribe to the email newsletter here. The newsletter is sent out every other Saturday at 9am eastern. 

 

As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom through Radical Resistance, a new book by Leanne Betasamosake Simpson

This is an astonishing work of Indigenous intellectualism and activism—by far the most provocative, defiant, visionary, and generous of Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s impressive corpus to date.
— Daniel Heath Justice

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson recently announced her new book, As We Have Always Done: Indigenous Freedom Through Radical Resistance, to be published by University of Minnesota Press and released later this year on October 2017. This non-fiction work seeks to add to the indigenous resistance movement by instilling traditional virtues instead of settler-colonial destruction into the movement. 

Summary: 

Leanne Betasamosake Simpson locates Indigenous political resurgence as a practice rooted in uniquely Indigenous theorizing, writing, organizing, and thinking. She makes clear that the goal of Indigenous resistance can no longer be cultural resurgence as a mechanism for inclusion in a multicultural mosaic, calling for unapologetic, place-based Indigenous alternatives to the destructive logics of the settler colonial state.

Preorders are available at Amazon.com or University of Minnesota Press.

I Can't Read Louise Erdrich

I listened to the interview between Sterlin Harjo and Louise Erdrich yesterday and one exchange, out of many in such a good interview, stood out to me.

Near the end of the podcast, Harjo mentions to Erdrich that he often has trouble reading her books because they always spur creativity in him and he has to go write his own stories.

The same happens to me.

I’ve been reading Erdrich’s latest, LaRose, but I haven’t been paying too much attention to the overall story. Instead, I’ve involuntarily gained inspiration to work on my own novel, one I’m writing as a creative thesis for Dartmouth. I’ve lately felt stuck with my story, like the second half is too confused or rambling and its too hard to find my way through to the story. As a result, I’ve procrastinated hard.

Yet, I cannot read Erdrich's books for more than a few minutes before the scenes, the characters, and the emotions that Erdrich writes inspire and draw me to my own work in such a powerful way that overcomes my insecurity and overthrows every overwhelming feeling of not knowing what to write.

Not only can Erdrich create and write a great story, but she can inspire others as well. And that’s what makes her a such a renowned and distinguished writer.

So I can't read Louise Erdrich because I'm always breaking away to create. It's going to take me a long time to get through LaRose but at least something new will be born out of it.

On Joseph Boyden

My thoughts on Joseph Boyden, for whatever it may be worth.

Canadian writer Joseph Boyden in September 2010. Photo Cred: Camille Gévaudan

Canadian writer Joseph Boyden in September 2010. Photo Cred: Camille Gévaudan

I first heard about Boyden during my interview with Frank C. Busch about Frank’s novel, Grey Eyes. Boyden had blurbed Frank’s book and Frank said Boyden was “a hero of [his]” and recommended Boyden’s The Orenda. My introduction to Boyden was from a Native author I respect and appreciate.

Recently, Boyden has faced great scrutiny over whether or not he is truly indigenous; whether his claims to a tribal community bear any weight. This controversy isn’t new since there have been many questioning Boyden’s claims for years, but this time the critique of Boyden gained steam and began a news cycle that saw many rise up to defend and to critique Boyden’s claims to an indigenous history.

Boyden himself responded to his critics with a tweet that did little to quell the storm.

Over the short while that I’ve been attempting to write about indigenous literature and culture, I’ve included Boyden in some posts and referred to him as an indigenous author even though I knew of the rumblings that said he wasn’t who he claimed to be. My only litmus test of who to include as a native author is who is and who isn’t accepted within native literature. That is, our indigenous literary community still accepted him as one of us, however tentatively, until the recent news made Boyden a leper in the community.

There has been plenty of time for Boyden to give a more hearty response about his identity, but he hasn’t. Busch is sticking with Boyden and arguing for his inclusion as indigenous. Busch has stated the attack on Boyden has been a “witch hunt,” of which I can see aspects manifesting in some tweets or comments completely deriding Boyden and his career.

There have, however, been critics of Boyden who are making room for him to return possibly as an indigenous author but most likely as an ally who is willing to learn. Both Aaron Paquette and Ryan McMahon have made statements that are inclusive towards Boyden while still acknowledging the harm his actions have wrought.

I’ll never join in destroying a person. Many Boyden detractors have turned petty towards him and his defenders, attacking Busch and others with personal insults rather than sticking to facts about Boyden. The same can be said from the pro-Boyden crowd. This isn’t the way we should be.

Overall, these are appropriate questions being asked. The critiques of Boyden have been important and I hope the discussion continues with him involved.

News of Boyden in the U.S. is scant, even with the latest uproar. We don’t hear much of him and he isn’t as celebrated here as he is in Canada. As such, I feel somewhat like an outsider looking in for insight because I don’t have much knowledge of him or his work. I’ve waited to see how this would play out; how Boyden would respond. He hasn’t yet responded with much, and I’m unsure of even how he should respond. For now and from what I’ve seen, I am choosing to not include Boyden as an indigenous author until better discussions are had and we can settle some of his contradictions.

Sherman Alexie Leaves Twitter Citing 'Negatives Increasingly Outweigh its Positives'

The new year brings a host of new resolutions and habits for many people. Celebrated indigenous author, Sherman Alexie, chose to quit Twitter. 

In a final tweet early New Year's morning, Alexie wrote "Hey, folks, I'm leaving Twitter because its negatives increasingly outweigh its positives. Thank you for the follows." 

Alexie deleted his profile shortly after his final tweet. Visiting Alexie's Twitter profile gives Twitter's stock "sorry that page doesn't exist" 404 page. Sherman Alexie still has a Facebook profile, but he's not as personal there as he was on Twitter. Most of his tweets were biting satire while his Facebook posts seem to be managed by a publicist. 

Here's hoping Alexie finds a different outlet for engagement.

Anton Treuer's “Warrior Nation” Awarded Denver Library's Caroline Bancroft Prize

Ojibwe historian and writer, Anton Treuer, recently won the Caroline Bancroft Prize in association with The Denver Public Library's Western History and Genealogy Department for his book Warrior Nation. In his book, Treuer interviewed several elders from the Red Lake Nation in Minnesota gathering stories and historical insight into the Red Lake Nation's "democratic governance system" which Treuer maintains is the first of its kind on Turtle Island. 

More about Warrior Nation:

The Red Lake Nation has a unique and deeply important history. Unlike every other reservation in Minnesota, Red Lake holds its land in common and, consequently, the tribe retains its entire reservation land base. The people of Red Lake developed the first modern indigenous democratic governance system in the United States, decades before any other tribe, but they also maintained their system of hereditary chiefs. The tribe never surrendered to state jurisdiction over crimes committed on its reservation. The reservation is also home to the highest number of Ojibwe-speaking people in the state.Warrior Nation covers four centuries of the Red Lake Nation s forceful and assertive tenure on its land. Ojibwe historian and linguist Anton Treuer conducted oral histories with elders across the Red Lake reservation, learning the stories carried by the people. And the Red Lake band has, for the first time, made available its archival collections, including the personal papers of Peter Graves, the brilliant political strategist and tribal leader of the first half of the twentieth century, which tell a startling story about the negotiations over reservation boundaries. This fascinating history offers not only a chronicle of the Red Lake Nation but also a compelling perspective on a difficult piece of U.S. history. 

The Caroline Bancroft Prize rewards books of Colorado or Western American history and "serves to recognize books that make a significant contribution to historical knowledge, present thorough and original research, bring a new perspective to some well-known question, and are of a high literary quality."

Varmints and Victims: Predator Control in the American West by Dr. Frank Van Nuys and Strangers on Familiar Soil: Rediscovering the Chile-California Connection by Edward D. Melillo were honorary mentions for the prize. 

Listen to Gregory Scofield Talk About His Inspiration for Witness, I Am

Poet Gregory Scofield spoke with Selagh Rogers on CBC Radio about his latest book of poetry, Witness, I Am, and his poem "Muskrat Woman" found in Witness.

Scofield on why he wrote Witness, I Am and why he shares missing and murdered indigenous women on Twitter every day:

A lot of the work that I've been doing around missing and murdered Indigenous women really stems from a personal experience with losing my auntie in 1998 to very mysterious circumstances. Her death was a homicide, and it was a homicide that was really never brought to justice. I decided, back then, that I was going to use my voice, my public profile, to do advocacy work around missing and murdered Indigenous women.

I started the name-a-day tweets about three years ago now — for me, the tweets are not only serving as a public announcement to hopefully find our missing women, but really to create public awareness. It really is that visual of their faces — when I have an opportunity to speak in public, it's become important for me to allow people to see the face of this experience. This isn't just an experience they're seeing on the news, this is an actual physical connection that they're making.

Listen to the 17-minute interview and watch a lyric video of Scofield reading his poem, "She is spitting a mouthful of stars" at CBC.

Sacred Breath: Writing & Storytelling at the University of Washington

The Department of American Indian Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle is hosting its second quarterly series, Sacred Breath: Writing and Storytelling at its wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ - Intellectual House.

Storytelling offers a spiritual connection, a sharing of sacred breath. Literature, similarly, preserves human experience and ideals. Both forms are durable and transmit power that teaches us how to live. Both storytelling and reading aloud can impact audiences through the power of presence, allowing for the experience of the transfer of sacred breath as audiences are immersed in the experience of being inside stories and works of literature.

The event is free to the public and features Raven Heavy Runner, Ernestine Hayes, and Elissa Washuta as speakers. Register here for the event which happens on February 25, 2017.