Joy Harjo's Web Log
Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
After School, and Remember Charlie Hill will be on David Letterman Tomorrow Night
After School: Tayo and Desiray at Hurricane's
Don't forget. CHARLIE HILL, Oneida Comedian, will be featured on David Letterman tomorrow night!!!!
Sunday, August 27, 2006
On the Other Hand, We Humans are a Gambling Sort
Coming out of the Route 66 Casino at Rio Puerco, we're attacked by giants.
Lotus Flower in Albuquerque
There's something about these flowers....This lotus knows how to accept and carry light, while rooted deep in dark.
Harjo's August column for Muscogee Nation News,2006
When we greet, weather is often our next point of reference. The weather matters; it connects and shapes our various realities. We breathe it. We’re in it. Right now, here in Hawai’i, it’s uncommonly humid, hot and still. The trade winds are our natural air conditioning. And where are they? They’re visiting somewhere else. Rumors are they are on their way back. They’d better get here soon. I’ve started checking on air conditioner prices!
The weather in Oklahoma has always been legendary. The Cherokee Will Rogers,Jr., even commented about it: If you don’t like the weather in Oklahoma, wait a minute, it’ll change.” Every time I call home to Oklahoma I get a weather report. “Ice, snow, hail, humidity….” Often this is all on the same day. This summer it’s the heat wave.
Even my friends up north in Alaska have been telling me how the heat has disrupted the cycles of life. Polar bears are drowning because of the extensive melting. There’s drought in the Amazon,too. And in Albuquerque last month the Rio Grande had disappeared to a trickle.
It’s tricky going right now for all of us here on this beloved earth. We’d better start looking around and taking care: thank those plants, animals, winds, rains, the sun and moon--all that sustains us and have taken care of us all these years. And thank the Maker of all this. We take so much for granted. Many of us have forgotten who we really are in this place.
My friend, Greg Sarris, the tribal chairman for the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria in northern California predicted that if this gets worse—and it will, if we don’t make some drastic changes in our behavior. We need to remember to be Indian again. We need to dust off our songs for the plants, winds, and animals, to all that sustains us. And will need to make new ones. We’d better start singing.
The weather is responsive and could be the culmination of our thoughts and actions as they move into the atmosphere: as individuals and communities, from our emotions, attitudes, car and industrial exhaust…and politicians’ lies.
The big event last week in Fairbanks, Alaska was the World Eskimo-Indian Games. The games are based on skills needed for survival way up there in the north. In the Eskimo Stick Pull two people sit facing each other with their feet pressed together and their knees bent. Between them they grasp a stick. Each attempts to pull over their opponent. This strength is necessary for bringing a seal in from a hole in the ice. What games do we need down here to strengthen our survival? Maybe the Eskimo Stick Pull would help strengthen us for lifting grocery bags from the cart to the car, and then for carrying into the house? How about walking or running, to make a tank of gas last for more than a week? Or what about the frybread toss? See how far away you can toss the second or third piece you don’t need, so you can save a few pounds and maybe add a year or two to your life.
The culminating event was the tug-of-war between the native women and the white men. The women have always won. I can imagine all kinds of competitions and teams we could feature at the Creek Nation Festival next year. Weren’t stickball games traditionally used for decision-making between tribal towns, other tribes?
Each of us is involved in this game of life. And we’re here, together: full-blood, half-blood, citizen, not-a-citizen, married to a citizen, wish-I-were-married-to-a-citizen, tired-of-being-a-citizen—all of us. The playing ground is earth. We were born and will leave with only what we carry in our spirit. The challenge is to make a shining story out of our failures and successes, our despair and joy, to take good care of our gifts and each other.
Joy Harjo July 27, 2006 Honolulu
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
First Day of Classes at UNM, And
because of a family emergency I have my oldest and youngest granddaughters as visitors while I prepare for a 5 1/2 workshop.
No words tonight.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Picture of the day: Sisters c Joy Harjo August 17, 2006
We All Need to Go To Counseling Together, Nat'l Book Critics Circle Blog, Grandsons and a Morning Glory
Jacqueline Keeler wrote and reminded me of how much we've been internally colonized. She points to the impeachment of President Cecilia Fire Thunder up North for" for speaking out against an abortion ban passed by the State of South Dakota. The Oglala tribal council cited Lakota Tradition as the reason to abrogate a woman's right to choose on the reservation. Women on the reservation now have less rights than most women in the United States. The mostly male council passed an anti-abortion law, making it illegal to even pursue an abortion. If a woman seeks an abortion on the reservation she and whoever helps here will be banished. What happens to the men that cause the pregnancy?"
She wrote about this issue on her blog, called "Fire Thunder Impeachment and the Rights of Women":Keeler's Blog
Check out this blog. Thanks Jacqueline.
I'm reminded what my ex-band member and Indian attorney said when he was a judge at a neighboring pueblo after a day of one tragedy of human behavior after the other. He finally lost it in court and demanded that the whole tribe be brought in for counseling!
The whole country needs grief counseling and anger management.
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I'm featured today on the blog of the National Book Critics Circle site, courtesy of board member Jane Ciab. I was asked which books I am currently reading.Harjo's What I am Reading
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I've been doing "picture of the day". It makes a good exercise for paying attention to what's around you. Here are a couple:
My grandsons go back-to-school at Zia Elementary. They are smiling in other photos, but overall this one came out best.
And finally, this morning glory giving back light.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Thunderstorms, Saxophone and Next We Will Be Marched Nude Through "Security"
Friday night in Albuquerque. Jammed on saxophone. I am listening beyond sound to understand sound.
More rains. Thunder and lightning. Cornfields ruined at Laguna and Acoma. Floods. I watched the clouds gather all afternoon. Tall thunderheads in the blue. They don't usually hang around here like this. Never did in all the years I lived here since Indian school in the late sixties.
A few hours ago was at my favorite kitchen table, in Isleta Pueblo. We shared green chili stew, chocolate cupcakes, and stories about all these changes, from strange weather to this terrible legacy of war brought to us by a particular reining family. This country will never be the same. (There is a connection between all of the above.)
Years ago I remember walking straight into an airport and getting on a plane with no "security". Then security machines were installed. Then after 9/11 we were searched and screened though we had not committed crimes. The worst were the smaller airports. I was picked "randomly" (the only Indian) in Bellingham, Washington and was forced to stand in line with huge orange tags clipped on my bags and me. Everything was taken out and unwrapped, in front of everyone. I tried to have a sense of humor about it, and told myself that people were "just doing their job". So was the U.S. Cavalry, so were the guards at the concentration camps..Then, a man had the makings of a bomb in his shoe, and we were then forced to remove our shoes as we moved through "security". I've even had my bare feet wanded, for security. Now, it's lipstick, deodorants, shampoos, perfume.
Watch out. Be careful. This is how it happens. Next we will be marched nude through security lines and won't even question why.
Now I should be like my favorite comic, and friend Charlie Hill. He makes people laugh about all this. The poet attempts a resonating cord between the soul in here, and the soul out there. So does the comedian, or, some of them (and some poets). I told Charlie he and I were standing at the back of the line when careers were given out: he took comedy, I took poetry (and a strange jazz-like native root music).
Look for Charlie Hill on Jay Leno this month. He's scheduled for the 22nd, but the date can change.
The word around Indian country is that rough changes are all coming down. Thirty years ago we heard that were at a balance point, it could go either way. Now the consensus is, 2010 is the shift.
We need words, songs and art to make clear paths through the mess.
Get to work.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
"Security", the traveling Creek Show, and Mars
This morning on a land refreshed by evening lightning, the news is there are terrorists roaming the land, again. Security at the airports is heavy. Why don’t we get the terrorists out of key leadership positions in this country? And why is our “Homeland Security” so sure that their cultivated enemies are going to do the same thing again? Why would they be so obvious? Part of the plan is to instill fear in the public, and consequently obedience, to make it easier to work their plans to takeover the world in the name of democracy and peace. Do you see democracy and peace in place wherever imperialist governments have set a heavy foot? Use your common sense.
In this educational system the head becomes swollen with facts and figures, most of them applicable only to a particular system of thinking.
Get beyond that to the level of compassion, which is the beyond-eagle-eye-view. There you can see and know the relative truth of the matter. There we are all related.
There is no rationale or argument in the world that would convince a council of women to sanction a plan to bomb and kill women and children, or to attack except only in self-defense.
When I am out of this body I dread the heaviness of history, of my own tendencies to forget. When I am in, I am captivated by the possibilities for beauty, by the gifts.
Last weekend I was honored to be part of the “Traveling California Muscogee Creek Show” as officials of the Muscogee Creek Nation of Oklahoma and those heading up the various tribal agencies visited their western relatives in the LA area and Stockton, California. Everyone worked hard to present, speak and interact and reconnections were made. We caravanned from LA to Stockton, for the two-day series of events on little or no sleep and heavy doses of caffeine.
It’s not easy going home after leaving for awhile, and for many of our California relatives, seeing their Oklahoma kinfolk was a little like going home. Makes you lonely and happy all at once. And those at home tend to be suspect of those who have left. They become unfamiliar, capable of strange habits and dress. Yet connections were made. I won’t forget Joseph Jacobs in Stockton. We figured out how we are related on the grid of genealogy. Nor will I forget the how my heart opened with each laugh, with each handshake or hug. I got caught up on all the gossip, the stories, the highs and lows. And feel even more resolute to help contribute to the quality of Muscogee Creek life, both here and there.
The one person at the heart of the matter is Eli Grayson. He works tirelessly. He is the one who has searched out and called and looked for every Muscogee Creek citizen he can find in California. He studies the issues, history and looks into the future with sure vision. He also makes sofkey and ribs for the meetings and lifts a heavy share of the burden, both literally and figuratively. These are the kind of people who will insure that we get from here to there with some kind of grace. Grace isn’t just pretty. It’s also sweat, muscle and blood with the punch of tough belief.
And mvto this life which feels unbearably heavy these days.
And mvto,Moon. The Moon reflects back the story, and this full Moon has been calling strongly for our attention.
And one other thing before I head out into the day: on August 27th Mars will be closer to the Earth than it has been for several thousand years. Does this surprise you?
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