Murphy's Mule Barn, Posing, and a Chandelier

Twenty minutes before I leave for Murphy's Mule Barn for breakfast. They have excellent and cheap breakfasts. Good chile.

Another "native" music fraud is being uncovered. All it took was a native flute, fringes and a name beginning with "Chief". He got pretty far, including Native American Music Awards and Grammy nominations. Sometimes I think if I exchanged that wiley saxophone for a flute, wore fringes and posed, I'd have an in to the native music biz. Then....who wants it at that cost? Sometimes the music has to make its own unique door.

My beloved brother lives on disability, and his girlfriend fishes for a living. It's a scant living by any standard. His house needs a roof. Each leak is patched by tarpaper. They have to go somewhere else to shower. He's gifted, and generous to a fault. One of his weaknesses is gambling. Another, auctions. My mother called yesterday. He and his wife went to an auction and came home with a chandelier, and two organs. Chandelier? And neither of them play the organ.

Later with photos from the Gallup performance.


Gallup Performance Tonight!!! And a note to blog subscribers or those who have sent me notes via the blog or website--

I'm getting ready to head to Gallup for a performance tonight at UNM-Gallup Branch, with my daughter Rainy Dawn Ortiz. The performance will begin with my introduction of her, and a reading by her. We are all excited about it.

Please note that my webmaster if on vacation for a month. If you've written anything to my attention via the website, I will not receive it until then. Write to me via the blog comments and I'll get it. If it's private I'll read it, and not post it.

Also, if you're on the blog subscription list and not getting the blog, then I assume that will be solved then, or will straighten itself out, or I'll figure it out by then.


Surrender rewrite


We wound circles to Pink Floyd and powwow, and skidded when the music
Stopped for musical chairs, beneath balloons in honor of baby’s first year.
She’s starting to walk.
I’m amazed at what gets paved by the grind of time
By forgiving. Or do I say, surrender?
I should take rest easy then, this day near equinox marking a festival of crossroads.
We had good weather.
Still I tumble relentlessly over this sleepless hump of worry.
I’m restless for vision, the next song.
For something other than the electrical switch that only takes me back
To where I started:
A small life on planet Earth, and what we imagine here in a time of decay.
When Rainy called with the latest on her step-girl’s pregnancy,
We questioned what happened during the lacing of the delicate web of formation:
Pesticides in the salad?
Or the old uranium tailings that are everywhere in the winds crossing Gallup?
I had to think through the dark and the dark was no longer a beautiful
Pathway, to a stomp dance in the middle of a field of stars.
Funky, this struggle.
Think musical chairs, I tell myself. And begin to imagine the falling away.
Each baby with ten fingers and toes, each dance taken.
The beauty prayer will bear me up and we will get there,
Yes we will, said the dark.

c Joy Harjo September 25, 2006

How Dreams Become Manifest, or Vice Versa

From a six a.m. journal this morning:

I dream I need to pee. I need to pee badly. I look for a toilet. There is one. It is occupied. I am next in line, yet someone else jumps in. Another woman approaches from the north and assumes preference because she cannot see our line. She leaps to the door ahead of me. And so on. Then i search for another toilet, and find one, open. Two young women push ahead of me. I am furious and tell them it's my turn, I have to pee. They aren’t sympathetic.

Then I awaken into body consciousness with a terrible need to pee.

Did the urge, the intent, the need awaken or make a story? Does an urge, a need, an intent of a person, plant, animal, element, a community, a nation, a universe, or a time gather around itself the story, (or gather together) the images, the sound so that it may push up on its elbows and emerge to make sense, to weld context with idea and body?

We are in a constant, creative process.

(There are no images to accompany this post!)


The Art of Yellow

Saturday night. Train whistle. Leaves tracked in the house. I leave them alone because they represent joy even as they represent leaving.

I wonder what they will remember of this Saturday afternoon? Will yellow represent joy?

Tonight there's work related work that must be done, there's other business that must be done, and my art, my voice wants out. My horn is still in the case from the trip to Syracuse. I can sing and not bother the neighbors at 8:32 PM. I can play ukulele, ditto. The horn will bother everyone, the neighbors, and especially those who expect girls or Indians to play flutes.

I've been thinking too much again. It's not thinking per se that's dangerous. Analyzation is a necessary process for coherence. When it hogs 90% of the field of sense, then nothing's left for dreaming or singing.

To make poetry or music you must give yourself over to the unknown, the mysterious, and be willing to enter compelling territory. You must be willing to be foolish, and concurrently create forms to hold the shimmer you carry back from those realms.

I've played it too close to safe lately. Just treading in place to complete all the tasks, all the need to be dones. This is no way to live. Means I'll have to change my state of mind about it all. Make it all art.


Report from Onondaga Nation

I wake up in another realm: the Sheraton in the city of Syracuse, in the Onondaga Nation.
I decompress with a shower, with water.
This morning I visit the Onondaga Nation School and get to spend a short time with students in the middle grades. I'm impressed overall with their engagement, their sense of presence.

Jasa Brooks is one of the students.

After, they leave to board the buses to go to the Longhouse. I am invited and jump on the bus with them. This is yet another realm. Today is the day the babies and some others are named. We dance. I am reluctant to leave.

Now I'm being picked up for a class, then soundcheck, then sleep if possible, dinner and then performance. A workout somewhere inbetween, and call my mother. That's how it goes.
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Sunday at Rocky Mountain National Park, I meet some deer.

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Call for Submissions:

The UCLA Indigenous Peoples' Journal of Law, Culture, & Resistance (IPJLCR)
would like to invite the community to submit creative contributions for
Volume III and IV of our journal. Creative writing and visual artwork
relating to education, law, activism, cultural resources, community,
leaders, mentors, or any other aspect of Indigenous peoples' lives is
welcome. Our Journal encourages you to share powerful views and expressions
of your most passionate interests. We look forward to receiving a wide range
of submissions.

IPJLCR is an interdisciplinary publication consisting of scholarly articles,
legal commentary, poetry, and artwork. The Journal accepts articles from
scholars, students, and community members about legal, political, and social
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 these issues.

Please Submit All Submissions By: Friday, November 17th, 2006. Submissions
received after this date will be held for consideration for future issues.

Submission Guidelines:

Creative Writing

We encourage writers to submit works in the genres of poetry, short stories,
creative non-fiction, and prose. All submissions are kept by IPJLCR, so
please DO NOT send originals. Our journal requires all creative writing
submissions to be sent as both an electronic attachment and a hard copy.
Please submit all creative works in Microsoft Word format and three (3) hard
copies of the manuscript to our contact information listed at the bottom of
this email. Manuscripts over three (3) pages must be accompanied by a
digital copy on a 3.5" floppy disk. Submission must also include a cover
page with the author's name, address, and telephone number, and a short

Art & Photography

We also encourage submissions from visual artists. Drawings, photographs, or
reproductions should be no larger than 8"x10". We prefer that you not send
originals, but high-quality reproductions are essential. Again, we require
all art and photography submissions to be sent as both an electronic
attachment and a hard copy. Submission must also include a cover page with
the title, the artist's name, address, and telephone number, a short
description of the work, and a short biography. When submitting digital
works, please use one of the following graphic


Please mail submissions to:
UCLA School of Law
Attention: Submissions
Box 951476
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476


Email to:

*Please note: UCLA IPJLCR does not provide an honorarium for any work
selected to be published.

In much appreciation,

**** **** **** ****

Enjoy your day.


Packing for Syracuse

I'm on my way to Syracuse in a few hours. Packing doesn't become easier. And reality becomes more complex when you open the doors. The basic rules are the same in any realm. Behave. Play nice. Be coherent. Take care of your gifts. Take care of each other. Acknowledge the source of the gifts, the source of the story. Don't take everything, leave something. Share.

The elections are over. The country is still splintered. It all goes back to the quality of leadership. And leadership is responsibility of all of us. We can't duck out. (Though we can duke it out. Won't solve anything. I know.)

The personal story is reflected in the larger story, and vice versa.

Here's a poem for the day, from How We Became Human, New and Selected Poems:


I must keep from breaking into the story by force,
If I do I will find a war club in my hand
And the smoke of grief staggering toward the sun,
Your nation dead beside you.

I keep walking away though it has been an eternity
And from each drop of blood
Springs up sons and daughters, trees
A mountain of sorrows, of songs.

I tell you this from the dusk of a small city in the north
Not far from the birthplace of cars and industry.
Geese are returning to mate and crocuses have
Broken through the frozen earth.

Soon they will come for me and I will make my stand
Before the jury of destiny. Yes, I will answer in the clatter
Of the new world, I have broken my addiction to war
And desire. Yes, I will reply, I have buried the dead

And made songs of the blood, the marrow.

c Joy Harjo
W.W. Norton


We Were There When Jazz Was Invented

Last week I spoke to students at Santa Fe Indian School on Jim Pepper, the quintessential native jazz saxophonist. Only a few people in the audience had heard of him. None of the students had. I ended at Congo Square, the symbolic and real ground where jazz rose up, born of this North American, this native earth. Literally and metaphorically. For Congo Square was a Houma ceremonial grounds. And this is where it all started: stomp dance, jazz, the blues, rock, what is American in music. The Indian has been left out of the equation. So it makes all the sense in the world that jazz found its way back to the grounds with Jim's saxophone. All the sense in the world.

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Got to meet Fantasia Lonjose, from Zuni, a young poet and Santa Fe Indian School student who made it all the way to the Poetry Outloud finals in Washington D.C. for her recitation of one of my poems. Congratulations Fantasia!

(Please let me know if you know who the photo credit for the Pepper image.)

On the Road to the Sequoyah Research Center in Little Rock, Arkansas

Met some new talent at the Southwest Symposium in Little Rock, Arkansas. Elgin Jumper is a Seminole poet from Hollywood, Florida. His new book of poetry is NIGHTFALL, Number Two of the Native American Chapbook Series II, published by the Sequoyah Research Center at the University of Arkansas in Little Rock.

Posing with Stuart Y. Hoahwah, another young poet to watch for, and Elgin. Stuart is Comanche and was raised in Little Rock and southwest Oklahoma. He's in an MFA program majoring in poetry at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. His two books of poetry include, Split, from Inverted Press out of Lafayette, Louisiana, and his more recent, BLACK KNIFE, Number One from the Native Writers Chapbook Series II, published by the Sequoyah Research Center in Little Rock.


The Oklahoma Centennial is Coming, Whether We Like It Or Not

History is repeated every time it is ignored or falsely told or reported. Oklahoma is gearing up to celebrate the centennial, the centennial of land theft. Many of our tribes were forcibly "removed" to Oklahoma. Then lands were forcibly taken from us.

Kate Henderson offers this from the CreekIndians listserv:

My husband called this afternoon to state the company he works for (headquarters in Houston, Tx with subsidiaries nation and worldwide) was preparing for the Oklahoma Centennial. In preparation their office of 50 or so employees was divided into "teams". Each team would work together for the next year and should select, as their team name, a tribe represented in Oklahoma.

My heart fell thinking about the tribes forcibly marched in Oklahoma in winter conditions. A forced march where families were told by soldiers carrying guns to leave their homes, their belongings often in the middle of the night with no warning. My heart remembered the stories my grandfather told about his father and grandfather being spit upon and told to sleep with the livestock because even though they had money to pay no one would give them lodging. My heart remembered how my grandfather and his siblings hid in a tree to escape being murdered by white men who wanted his family's land.

And I thought, when will Oklahoma history be honestly taught? I want the truth to be told in all its horribleness and understood so that this and future generations become sensitive to why romanticized stereotypes hurt. I am sick to think of a group of adults forming a team and calling themselves The Creeks, The Choctaws, The Cherokees, The Comanches, or any one of the tribes forcibly removed to Indian Territory where yet another promise was made then broken. I cannot change the past, I can educate those in Oklahoma to the truth. This is where I take my stand.

(Thanks Kate Henderson for reprinting permission.)