FEATURING: nila northsun, Henry Real Bird, M.L. Smoker.
Three poets from Joy Harjo's "Living Nations, Living Words" project share their work. Contemporary Native poets, nila northsun, Henry Real Bird and M.L. Smoker share “poetry [that] emerges from the soul of a community, the heart and lands of the people. In this country, poetry is rooted in the more than 500 living indigenous nations." --Joy Harjo
From the 38th National Cowboy Poetry Gathering.
"The Day the Children Took Over" (poem by James Welch)
"Crosscurrent, for James Welch"
"Equilibrium, in Memory of Eric Levi BigLeggins"
"Letter to Jim Harrison"
"How My Cousin Was Killed"
"Falling Down to Bed"
"Up and Out"
"Will You Do This for Me?"
"I'd Give You Horses"
Henry Real Bird
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
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.
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 Western Folklife Center’s G Three Bar Theater in Elko, Nevada on Feb. 3, 2023.
Made possible by 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.