Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS
UCLA INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ JOURNAL OF LAW, CULTURE & RESISTANCE
The UCLA Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance is accepting art and poetry submissions for Volume 3, to be published later this year.
The UCLA Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance (IPJLCR) is a law journal at the University of California Los Angeles School of Law that is interdisciplinary in nature, consisting of scholarly articles, legal commentary, poetry, and artwork. We publish scholarly articles and student comments written about legal issues important to Indigenous communities in the United States and throughout the world, as well as works by artists that relate to or comment on legal issues. We also seek works on issues or aspects of life in Indigenous communities that are impacted by law, whether tribal law or the laws of nation-states.
The first two volumes contain, in addition to articles on legal, political, and cultural issues, poetry and prose pieces by Kathy Ainsley, Joy Harjo, Mahealani Kamauu, Sara Littlecrow-Russel, Harvest McCampbell, Lawrence T., Shawna Sunrise, and Cecilia Vicuña, and artwork from Wendy Red Star, Anna Tsouhlarakis, Elizabeth Whipple, and Nadema Agard Winyan Luta Red Woman.
Please mail submissions to:
UCLA Indigenous Peoples’ Journal of Law, Culture & Resistance
UCLA School of Law
Los Angeles, California 90095-1476
Please e-mail submissions to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday night was a highlight of the season. The Maori writer, Patricia Grace read and spoke to a full auditorium at UH. She read from my favorite novel, Baby No-Eyes and a more recent novel, inspired by her father’s journals of his service in the military in WWII to Italy, Tu. Baby No-Eyes was inspired by an actual event in the community. A Maori woman gave birth to a stillborn child in a New Zealand hospital. She wanted the child’s body to take home and properly bury. The staff couldn’t find it at first, then it was found in the trash. The hospital then decided there must be an autopsy. When they handed the child’s body to the grandmother it had no eyes. When the hospital personnel turned over they eyes, they were in a plastic bag. Before burying the child the eyes were taped to the belly, because there is where seeing comes from. (This is similar to the Mvskoke beliefs.)
Thursday was a panel. Panels tend to run to extremes. They’re either dreadful or great, and I say this because I’ve been both participant and audience on many occasions. This panel, “Indigenizing the Novel in Aotearoa: The Role of Culture and Identity” included several Polynesian writers and scholars included Robert Sullivan, Maori poet, Naomi Loesch, Hawaiian language scholar, Paul Lyons, scholar, Jodi Byrd, Chickasaw scholar, Patricia Grace, Reina Whaitiri, Maori scholar, Caroline Sinavaiana, Samoan writer and scholar, and Albert Wendt, Samoan writer and Citizen’s Chair. This panel was one of the best. Here are some notes:
Grace started writing because she wanted to “write about people who hadn’t been written about before”. She stressed that each writer has to find their own way, their own voice.
“The world is where we are.”
I especially appreciated Grace’s remarks on how a writing project comes together. One of the panelists discussed Grace’s spiral approach to narrative, something arguably distinctly indigenous. She said she “pulls different ideas to the center, close to me”.
(It’s not a linear process, doesn’t follow western story arc notions. This is freeing to me. It is my approach and it is how I work through to find, hear and eventually be the story or song.)
Then she said: “Maybe a spiral is imbedded in our lives.”
She emphasized that there are so many ways to be Maori.
Robert Sullivan, a Maori poet who is now teaching at the University of Hawaii inspired me with these words: “When I use Maori in English texts it carries spirit beyond etymology.”
And Witi Ihimaera, the Maori novelist and scholar was quoted by Albert Wendt: “Novels should be constructed like a house with a heart.”
I especially enjoyed seeing Patricia’s husband Waireki (sp.) again. Shining eyes and soul.
It seems to me it is such an aberration to be a writer in an indigenous community.
And, why not, when writing a novel or collection in mainly English with some indigenous language, write the English in italics, the Mvskoke (for instance) in regular type?
And so I am inspired to continue to create and to believe in our voices despite the prevailing attitudes against us, and I thank Patricia and the community for all this.
Another morning but where in the loop does consciousness start, begin or end? There is always a morning, or beginning somewhere in time, and a dusk or signal of an opposing arc of a cycle.
I have been asleep. How many hours has my spirit closed its eyes and dozed in fear, distrust or paranoia in this body, this life?
I was awake as we paddled out last night from the beach at Maunalua Bay into fierce wind gusts. We caught our rhythm and were in it. We were waves of blown ocean, Koko Head, the rhythm of paddles hitting and pulling, clouds broken by torque and force. The intention of the winds is to clear and clarify to sweep clean debris. Our intention was to move the canoe with each other, to go forward, strengthen ourselves, test ourselves against ourselves and eventually each other.
We went out in two-double hulls. This was safer as Wednesday night is visitor’s night and we had unexperienced paddlers. We crossed under the bridge with instructions to go to the marina, to Hancock Island and circle back. We extended the paddle through various channels in the marina, sometimes forced ourselves into the flat hard faces of the winds and sometimes flying with the winds behind us. There were even whitecaps in the usually relatively placid waters of the marina!
At one point our canoes went two different directions around a particular point. The other canoe came out about five boat lengths ahead. We decided to beat them and went into race mode. I was in a stroker’s seat on the right. (A double hull is two single six-man (sic) canoes bound together, so there are two stroker seats.) The stroker sets the pace, the rhythm. You also have the best view. You can also feel everyone in the canoe. I threw my intention past the canoe ahead of us and we went for it. We caught up and beat them. Exhilarating. We had to make a collective decision and pull up resources from within as it was the end of about an hour non-stop paddle. Both canoes were pretty evenly distributed according to power and experience so the race was well-matched. I’m ready to go back out tomorrow.
Intention is a powerful thing, like a rope of energy. Ropes can have different sizes and strengths. Intention is built from will, desire and emotional pull. The effect also depends on where you put it. Throw a seed on concrete and you won’t get corn. You’ll get a sad seed and indifferent concrete. A little wind might move the seed to a crack and it will have a chance—and maybe it’s intention that forces that chance.
It’s cold here. In the sixties. Unusual. It seems to be the consensus of the wise and spiritually aware ones that I have spoken with everywhere from Alaska to Oklahoma that we are in the middle of a pole shift. It’s cold where it’s usually warm, and vice versa. One informant at Isleta Pueblo says the birds don’t even know which way to fly. We are in the middle of a turn. Pay attention. Make your own notes and observations for your descendents. They will look back and ask fierce questions.
February 9, 2006 Thursday
I apologize to all subscribers re: the recent batches of emails. This was not intended. The site is being put back in order.
Will have a podcast up here, SOON.