Joy Harjo's Web Log
Joy Harjo posts reports here on her trips and other happenings.
Monday, October 29, 2007
Muscogee Nation News Column for October 2007
We’ve had our elections and here we are again. May we move forward with inspiration and remember to honor the source of breath. And use our breath for good words as they make a path forward. Our words do create our road, singly and collectively. The manner in which we travel is determined by our attitude, by the attitude carried in our words.
I am inspired and have been inspired by many as I travel about throughout this world. Sometimes inspiration is as simple as a stranger’s smile when I’m dragging bags and I think I just get can’t on another plane. Or it’s dignity, like the dignity of this este -lucv or turtle person I met at the grounds during our new years celebration this summer. He was walking along headed in the direction of the creek when my grandchildren discovered him. He humored them once he found out they weren’t brandishing sticks or rocks. We all gathered around to visit with him.
I’m beginning to think that the worst thing imparted by western education and religion is the hierarchy of value as it pertains to all persons. As a child, and as someone who was raised up within the borders of the mind and dreams of the Creek Nation I knew este -lucv as someone walking about the earth as myself. We were the same size spiritually. This was the same with other creatures, like dog, deer or the birds that shared the air. And as I went about on the earth I came to know that the plants, stones and other elements occupy consciousness and space and have a dignity of as much weight as human-people have accorded themselves. When I went to public school in Tulsa, a very good public school with many of our tribal citizens, and began to spend more time in that system of books and thinking, I began to forget.
Seeing este -lucv this summer with my grandchildren I terribly missed my older cousin John Jacobs of Holdenville. He always had such tenderness for the este -lucv citizens of our lands. Once while traveling near his home we picked up a turtle who was about to get hit in the middle of the highway. The turtle’s beaked mouth was stained with berry juice. I won’t forget that spirit of vnokeckv as John lifted up the turtle, talked to him and carried him off the road. John Jacobs was one of my teachers of vnokeckv.
Another teacher of vnokeckv is my Navajo son-in-law, Tim Chee. My daughter Rainy Dawn Ortiz wrote about him in her myspace blog:
“ My husband is always giving out change. He says all he expects in exchange is a little conversation. But sometimes this drives me crazy. We will be in a hurry at the gas station or at the store and its always a given that some one comes up to him to ask for change. He always asks them questions, and tells the ones he sees over and over again to go home, most of them Native. They used to come here to our house to ask for stuff. We are near a church that feeds the homeless so our house is a high foo traffic area. But after you help a few it becomes more and more, and soon we had a group of people hanging out on the side of our house waiting for him to come out. We have even had people knock on our door all hours of the night. So he had to tell them to stay away from our house. Its one of the reasons that I love him so much, because even if he has only a few dollars, he will give it away to some one who has less, as long as they stay around to talk to him. And thats the key. They have to talk to him, and answer his questions. Its a small price to pay, but for some its too much. Krista always laughs and says he'll talk to any one. So if you are out there and in need of some change, or even some conversation, you have your man but please dont get him started on floors or the building of something, or cars please because I want to get home. PS he does this on the phone too : )”
Because it’s four in the morning and I have to catch a plane to Oklahoma in a few hours, I will close with these wise words from a person whose being and words I have come to respect, Faithkeeper Oren Lyons of the Onondaga Nation:
“I do not see a delegation for the four footed. I see no seat for the eagles. We forget and we consider ourselves superior. But we are after all a mere part of creation and we must consider to understand where we are. And we stand somewhere between the mountain and the ant. Somewhere and only there as part and parcel of the creation."
Mvto Oren Lyons for reminding us of our humble place here.
Mvto John Jacobs,Tim Chee, and este-lucv
May we all continue to travel together well.
September 26, 2007 Wednesday morning
Friday, October 19, 2007
New Zealand Police Use the Terrorism Suppression Act to Lock Down Maori Social Activists
From: karaka [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Wednesday, October 17, 2007 12:17 PM
Subject: FW: URGENT APPEAL: Maori plea for support
------ Forwarded Message
Dear Friends, Colleagues and Family,
It is in great distress that I am urged to write this appeal and to inform
our international community of the recent events that are happening within
Aotearoa (New Zealand) social justice, environmental justice and indigenous
For the past 60 hours Aotearoa activists have been subjected to home
invasions,raids and interrogation under threats of terrorist activities
against the state.The Crown has decided to employ its recent Terrorism
Suppression Act to lockdown on social justice activist, movers and shakers
and this is now world widenews with many of our close friends and families
houses (mine included) being invaded, possessions confiscated and charges
being threatened which will allow for solid activists to be charged under
the Terrorist Suppression Act that carries sentencing for life.
The ages of people currently under custody range from 18 ^ 64. Many of us
being implicated in this investigation are young people trying to do good
things for our communities.We are headed into an election year and these
events are the largest scale operation headed by special operations from the
head of states office. We have difficulty in understanding the timing for
these invasions of our privacy except for political campaigning off of our
backs.The indigenous movement for self - determination is what is being
blamed by the media for instigating acts of terrorism.
The Police showed up at my house with files of my activities over years,
my phones have been tapped for years, my house under surveillance and
everything subject to their review. We have not been involved in any
activities that could allow the police to make these claims and the distress
they are causing for our families and children is devastating.
Right now we are fighting for friends in Police Custody to make bail. A
number of these requests have been denied. A number of people are now been
moved between prisons and I will be liasing with them and their families.
Court costs, travel costs, food costs and lawyer costs are above the heads
of many of our people and we are asking for support from our communities
both national and international to come to our aid in this time of
need.'Terrorism' world wide has become a cause for unjust state intervention
into the lives of many peoples committed to change and now we are seeing
that reality play out here in our own backyards within our own community.
Please support us in anyway specifically: Sending your concerns against
state interventions to Annette King, Minister of Police (aking@...) and to
your local New Zealand Embassy's;- By sending financial support towards the
Family Support Network to assist with food, travel expenses and Court costs
and; By sharing our stories with your own networks.We have had some
international support by indigenous brothers and sisters by way of protests
on the streets outside the NZ Embassy's, we encourage any of you to organize
and do the same. Thank you all for taking the time to hear what is happening
for us here in Aotearoa, these are very troubling times.
For further information please refer
Most of our Internet sites have been taken down also in relation to these
chain of events however all responses and correspondence can be made through
Kiritapu Allan Co ^ Director, Conscious Collaborations
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Driving Back from Where the Water Comes Out of the Rock Outside of Anchorage
c Joy Harjo 10/07
I Saw This One On a Beautiful Fall Afternoon in Albuquerque
c Joy Harjo 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Because I Heard the Oklahoma Centennial Parade Just Happened
From an interview I did to be published by the Humanities Council in Oklahoma, conducted by Harbour Winn. I hope he doesn't mind if a bit appears here:
Many of have dreaded the celebration of the Sooner State centennial. I can understand the organization of the state wanting to celebrate it’s incorporation. Not everyone in the state has cause to celebrate. The state as an entity represents theft and second-class citizenship for many of us. The state came about over land grabs, over broken promises, and in the relatively fresh wake of Cotton Mather’s hatefulness--which is born out again in the Bible belt fundamentalism. And the motto “The Sooner State” has always bothered me. Why is that the state motto? “Sooner State” honors those who jumped the line for first dibs on land claims. They were the quicker thieves. Statehood is really more about gun power, and the ability to takeover and control. We also have a state now that encompasses many communities, many times. There’s a genealogy of sorts. We’re all here. At the center of Mvskoke philosophy is a term: vnvketcv, which is, compassion. You look for the best in any situation, and keep moving about with grace, no matter the trial. We were uprooted from our homeland and moved to Indian Territory, were promised to be left alone, and then here it is again, and not only that, oil is discovered on our allotted lands. It doesn’t end. Now there are genetic patents on our plants, our medicines. Still, we’re dealing with gun power. So it seems to me that to celebrate the centennial means that we celebrating a takeover. The best possible outcome is perhaps a conversation between the citizens of Oklahoma. Has this come about from the centennial? One day there will be that conversation that needs to be had where everybody sits down at the table: Cotton Mather and his people, my people, the eagle, stones, the plants, the winds, all of us. And we will be equal. And everyone’s voice will have a place.
Sunday, October 14, 2007
No, I'm Not Selling Viagra!
However, a Viagra seller is using my blog list to spam.
We're taking care of it.
Thursday, October 11, 2007
Juggling Satellites, Freeways, Emails...
These days I am an air traffic controller or a juggling fool. This morning as I broke from my other knowing to this one I decided I could not get up yet one more day and abandon my spirit. We are spirits, after all. In order to "get things done" I've been jumping immediately into the straightaway of the mental freeway with emails, electronics, tasks, no end of tasks....In the mental freeway there is no room for ambiguity, for the breathing of the mythic. You cannot hear the stories unwind, enjoy them, know them, utterly. You cannot know yourself, and knowing yourself allows you to begin to know and understand others.
So I took a different door, the one of subtlety (this door is subtle against the field of metal, electrical appliances, the whiz of satellites, of ringing phones in everyone's hands), the one of listening and being within the full spectrum from the first to the seventh layers of the senses. There are probably more layers than those. And there are more than five senses.
Now I can hear poetry. Now I can hear the songs. Now, I feel like a human being.
I deleted yesterday's post. I was running too hard, thinking too much and revealed too much.
Tuesday, October 09, 2007
Possible email list hack by a trickster
I have been alerted by a few of you out there that you are getting a string of messages that say something like: all books and CD's 74% off. Guess it's somebody's idea of a joke. We're looking into it.
Sunday, October 07, 2007
After the Fact...and Ancestral Multiplication
....of course, good-looking warriors on horseback riding with the wind with hard, bronzed shoulders, backs,abs, --as they say in the business "sexy"--add to that, ditto, cowboys...and so the story goes. We're so many peoples, builds, ups, downs and crossovers from the press of the stereotype, from the story pool.
We are human beings.
And a little something to think about from HIGH PINK, TEX-MEX FAIRY TALES, by Franco Mondini-Ruiz (artist extraordinaire) Published by D.A.P./Distributed Art Publishers, Inc.NY,NY 2005:
"I couldn't sleep last night. I started thinking about something I just can't figure out. It boggles the mind. And I wasn't stoned, I promise. It goes like this: You are one person. It took two people to create you. It took four people to create your parents. And it took eight people to create your grandparents, and sixteen people to create your great-grandparents. And to create them, 128. And before them, 256; 512; 1,024; 2,048; 4,096; 8,192; 16,384; 32,768; 65,536; 131,072; 262,144; 524,288; 1,048,576; 2,097,152; 4,194,304; 8,388,608; 16,777,216; 33,554,432; and so on. Wouldn't that mean that a few thousand years ago almost everybody alive had to have been your ancestor?
My friend Rudy always thinks everyone he meets reminds him of one of his cousins. I guess he's onto something." p.118
Saturday, October 06, 2007
Dignity and the Power of Stories
No. I haven't been blogging much, not much at all. I'm writing stories, poetry and music. Some of it finds its way here. Some not---it's being born, learning how to walk, to run, to fly.
Today took a break and went with my daughter and the children to the Halloween store. We took a look around at all the gore and cute. Strange how it's all together. You can be a ghoul, a murdered soul, a monster coming back with a chain saw, or a princess or cheerleader for Halloween. What irked me is that you also be an Indian, either a warrior (comes with tomahawk) or princess (brown fringe cotton dress and headband), or you can be a Mexican man with a huge sombrero for lazing in the sun.
Now, what's wrong with this? Proves to me how we natives exist in the American mind (not imagination, I'm becoming convinced there is none or almost none left. "Civilization" has killed it), and we can only be bought and sold in these images. Why? Because they sell. No one wants a Mexican attorney or an Indian opera singer. (Jim Pepper would have made it if he'd played flute. Instead he had to go to Europe with his saxophone to make a living.) (I almost forgot, I saw "Hawaiian" grass skirts.) We are not wielding our power to create images that supersede the ridiculous. Instead, we're fighting each other over diminishing dollars of government programs, casinos, blood quantums and skin tone. We keep giving in and playing cowboy and Indian, warrior or princess because we have to make a living, don't we? Otherwise they won't buy our movies, books, art...
What did we buy? Some rubber spiders, flashing light rings, a couple of remote control fart machines, two warrior costumes for my grandsons (not the fake Indian warrior kind, the fake Star Wars kind.) My granddaughters are still looking.
And me, I'm just trying to find a way to break through the gore of history, the savagery of fake images. We have some good stories,incredible stories. I'll never forget Bruce Miller's story artistry in the Evergreen College Longhouse. His stories were magic and carried light forward from the ancestors. We have stories that illuminate, they massage open our eyes, they purify our ears. We have stories that unlock the imaginations of our children so we can get beyond the ruin.
Friday, October 05, 2007
Every Step a Prayer
One of our old, old holy men said, "Every step you take on earth should be a prayer. The power of a pure and good soul is in every person's heart and will grow as a seed as you walk in a sacred manner. And if every step you take is a prayer, then you will always be walking in a sacred manner."
- Charmaine White Face (Oglala Lakota)
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