FEATURING: Joy Harjo, nila northsun, Painted Horse, Henry Real Bird, M.L. Smoker.
A journey celebrating creativity through acknowledgement of the ancestors of poetry and music in the story field of the first Native American U.S. Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo.
Hosted by Kristin Windbigler
From the 38th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The 23rd United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo is the first Native American to hold the position and only the second person to serve three terms in the role. Her nine books of poetry include An American Sunrise, How We Became Human, and She Had Some Horses. She is also the author of two memoirs that travel along the heartaches, losses, and humble realizations of her “poet-warrior” road. Joy has edited several anthologies of Native American writing, including Living Nations, Living Words, the companion anthology to her signature poet laureate project. She is a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, board of directors chair of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and artist-in-residence for the Bob Dylan Center. A renowned musician and saxophone player, her most recent album is I Pray For My Enemies.
nila northsun, Shoshone/Chippewa, has been writing for over four decades. Her books include diet pepsi & nacho cheese; Coffee, Dust Devils and Old Rodeo Bulls (with Kirk Robertson); small bones, little eyes (with Jim Sagel); a snake in her mouth: poems, 1974-96; love at gunpoint; and, whipped cream & sushi. Nila has received the Silver Pen Award from the University of Nevada, Reno, the Indigenous Heritage Award from Florida-based ATAYAL, and a Sierra Arts Foundation Literary Award. The multilingual digital writers’ platform Siwarmyu says of nila’s poetry, her “conversational, intimate…verses question romantic perspectives on indigeneity through day-to-day-life vignettes in the reservation.” She was born in Shurz, Nevada, raised in the Bay Area, and is now retired and living on her reservation in Fallon, Nevada.
Shoshone, Paiute and Pit River tribal members make up Painted Horse – a drum group from the Duck Valley Indian Reservation in northeastern Nevada. The Painted Horse drum group represents the eighth generation descended from Shoshone tribal member Old Horse, who lived in the Great Basin in the late 1700s. Founded in 1975, the drum group performs for pow wows and ceremonial and special events in their home community of Duck Valley Indian Reservation and throughout the Western States region. They carry forward older traditional and family songs drawing on their Shoshone, Paiute, and Pit River heritage. The Painted Horse family was the last family to hold the horse dance using actual horses in the 1940s. The family group is led by respected horseman, tribal elder, and buckaroo Reggie Sope. Members of the group are Devin Deitch, Silas Horn, Tammy Jones, Bradley Sope, Murray Sope, Arnold Thomas, Ty Townsend.
Henry Real Bird
Henry Real Bird, a member of the Apsáalooke (Crow) Nation, grew up ranching on the battlegrounds of the Little Bighorn. He still lives on the Crow Reservation in Montana, saying “this is it, I’m not going anywhere.” A former rodeo cowboy and bronc rider, now a renowned poet, horses picture large in Henry's creative work–he still touches and cares for horses every day. In his continual search for extremes, he raises bucking horses with his daughter and also cares for gentle horses that people can ride safely. A writing mentor for youth, a Crow speaker, and a self-proclaimed “old-timer,” Henry writes, takes care of horses and grandkids, and preserves language and thoughts that have been here a long time.
M.L. Smoker, a member of the Assiniboine and Sioux Nations, hails from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. She feels most rooted on Tabexa Wakpa (Frog Creek) where her family makes their home. A former Montana Poet Laureate, M.L. is also an educator and education advocate who works toward better outcomes for Native American youth. She served almost a decade as Montana state’s director of Indian education and was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Indian Education by President Obama. A contributor to Joy Harjo’s Living Nations, Living Words project, M.L. is also an Emmy-winning film consultant for her work on the PBS documentary Indian Relay, recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, co-author of the children’s graphic novel Thunderous, and author of the poetry collection Another Attempt at Rescue.
Filmed in front of a live audience at the Elko Convention Center’s Laurena Moren Theater, on Feb. 2, 2023.
Made possible by Nevada Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the multitude of staff, artists, volunteers, and community members working behind the scenes to make this show happen.
Brought to you by the Western Folklife Center, using story and cultural expression to connect the American West to the world.