Poetry for Native American Heritage Month
You can see them in our landscape, in place names like Anahuac, Wichita Falls and Navasota. You can see them in our language, in the words shack, lagniappe and totem. They are in the food we eat—they were first to cultivate potatoes, corn, coffee, and chocolate. They had empires, architecture, science, mathematics and art to rival anything in their conquerors’ lands.
Yet for all intents and purposes they are now invisible to us as living, breathing human beings. Their cultures have been shunted off into bleak corners, appropriated and misrepresented in popular entertainments, and entombed in museums. Their images have been used to sell everything from butter to motorcycles to beer. The name of the professional football team in this nation’s capitol invokes not their long history on this land, nor even their prowess on the battlefield, but the (claimed) color of their skin—an idea unimaginable in connection with any other ethnic group.
I am not saying anything here that they haven’t said better themselves. The least we can do is pay attention.
Some Native American Poets
Ai | Sherman Alexie | Esther Belin | Kimberly Blaeser | Lorna Dee Cervantes | Louise Erdrich | Diane Glancy | Paula Gunn Allen | Joy Harjo | Linda Hogan | LeAnne Howe | Sara Littlecrow-Russell | Duane Niatum | Simon J. Ortiz | Brian Swann | N. Scott Momaday | Ray A. Young Bear
Anthologies of Native American Literature
Native American Voices / Karen Harvey, ed.
Earth Always Endures: Native American Poems / Neil Philip, ed.
Harper’s Anthology of 20th Century Native American Poetry / Duane Niatum, ed
Native American Poetry / George W. Cronyn, ed.
Song of the Sky: Versions of Native American Song-Poems / Brian Swann
That’s What She Said: Contemporary Poetry and Fiction by Native American Women / Rayna Green, ed.
American Indian Myth Poems / Hartley Alexander
In the Trail of the Wind: American Indian Poems and Ritual Orations / John Bierhorst, ed.
John Trudell [electronic resource]
Massacre at Sand Creek: Narrative Voices / Bruce Cutler
Medicine Songs / Mary Austin
New and Old Voices of Wah'kon-tah / edited by Robert K. Dodge and Joseph B. McCullough
The Sacred Path: Spells, Prayers and Power Songs of the American Indian / John Bierhorst, ed.
The Serpent’s Tongue: Prose, Poetry and Art of the New Mexico Pueblos / Nancy Wood, ed.
Songs from this Earth on Turtle’s Back: Contemporary American Indian Poetry / Joseph Buchac, ed.
Summer in the Spring : Anishinaabe Lyric Poems and Stories / Gerald Vizenor, ed.
The Winged Serpent: American Indian Prose and Poetry / Margot Astrov, ed.