Holy Beings

This is the place Jesus was born.

This is a day that the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus, the Christ, a holy man. He came into the world to bring an immense light for understanding and compassion. There were signs in the stars and all around about the impending birth as there are for such souls.  He was here on a special mission, to remind us we are nothing without love, to show us that we are healers, are capable of miracles and are here to illuminate the world. Jesus was born to a poor family of refugees, to a mother who was pregnant outside of marriage and a man who loved her despite her social transgression.  His path from birth to death was a challenge.

In each newborn the light is unimpeded. We feel it and see it and that is why we always gather around these tiny bringers of hope. Each of us brings light to carry it along the path for the illumination of our footsteps, and to help each other. We have the choice of either growing it or covering it. We cannot destroy it.

As a child I read the Bible through twice. Jesus spoke only words of compassion, peace and understanding. In his words I do not remember reading rules or doctrine for separation and exclusion. I did not read any urging to hate anyone because of race, class, sex or sexuality or because they came to understanding through a different doorway.  Yet Christ’s words have been used to take over countries or peoples (“in the name of God”, “God gave us this land”), to oppress, force religion, to destroy cultures, languages and other ways of knowing the light. (I left an evangelical church when I was thirteen because I could no longer bear the hypocrisy of racism and misogyny. That is my own path. Everyone is different. Jesus words and path still inspire me. We are all sons and daughters of the Maker of Light therefore we are brothers and sisters.)

I believed then as I do now that Jesus was a being of light sent to remind us we are beings of light. So was the Buddha, Mohammed…

This morning as the light comes up over a day that celebrates the birth of this Jesus may we honor and grow love or compassion for each other, beyond religion, beyond any separation politics. In Mvskoke language the word for this concept is vnvketckv. In Navajo language it is hozhoo. In Hawaiian it is aloha. May we forgive ourselves and each other, love ourselves and each other as we make a new world, beginning this day, with each other.  We are each born of holy beings. When we took breath in, we promised.



Back from story gathering in New Orleans. One of the trails from Congo Square leads here, to the Mvskoke Nation. What a life, and music sings it all.


From Lafayette, Louisiana

To New Orleans this morning for research for We Were There When Jazz Was Invented project. When I entered Lafayette last night I entered a different story realm. The alligator people are prominent, as are long-legged birds, and the French, African and indigenous peoples and their stories and music--
Time is an incredible cook.


Red Dawn

Beautiful dawn this morning. Red bird and I watched it together. What emerged from the hem of light is this:

What if there were no right or wrong, rather, we are experiencing a story stream to understand, to grow compassion? I believe that we become every story until we learn not to judge, or hate. I have experienced this in my own life. How quickly I am placed in any situation that I have previously judged or scorned. If I feel it utterly, then I am able to let it go, and keep moving, with love.


Yes that was me you saw shaking with bravery, with a government issued rifle on my back.  I’m sorry I could not greet you, as you deserved, my relative.

They were not my tears. I have a reservoir inside.  They will be cried by my sons, my daughters if I can’t learn how to turn tears to stone.

Yes, that was me standing in the back door of the house in the alley, with fresh corn and bread for the neighbors.

I did not foresee the flood of blood. How they would forget our friendship, would return to kill the babies and me.

Yes, that was me whirling on the dance floor.  We made such a racket with all that joy.   I loved the whole world in that silly music. 

I did not realize the terrible dance in the staccato of bullets. 

Yes. I smelled the burning grease of corpses.  And like a fool I expected our words might rise up and jam the artillery in the hands of dictators.

We had to keep going.  We sang our grief to clean the air of turbulent spirits. 

Yes, I did see the terrible black clouds as I cooked dinner. And the messages of the dying spelled there in the ashy sunset. Every one addressed:  “mother”.

There was nothing about it in the news.  Everything was the same.  Unemployment was up.  Another queen crowned with flowers.  Then there were the sports scores.

Yes, the distance was great between your country and mine.  Yet our children played in the path between our houses. 

No.  We had no quarrel with each other. 

c Joy Harjo  


Human Being Being

It is almost three in the morning here. I will not put the FB page down. Tomorrow I go to the West Bank. I have learned more by being here than signing a paper from a safe room.

I realize that I was defensive very quickly and probably should have waited to make any statement. I really didn't know about the boycott. I have not been in the academic world for awhile. And I real
ly do have questions about boycotts of the arts and cultures because dialogues between artists and cultural thinkers take us beyond the laws and borders of countries.

Yet, I understand given the history why stepping into Israel in this time is controversial and could be perceived as crossing a line in support of killing. I am not a killer. Nor do I condone killing. I believe in human rights.

My art demands that I stand as a truth teller. The spirit of art is the toughest teacher and I believe it has led me here to stand in this place. It is not an easy place to be misunderstood and attacked by those with whom you feel an alliance. I believe there is a reason for it though I don't quite understand all of it yet. I don't know that much but have to be true to what I have learned.

I do know that I will attempt to use this energy to the best of my ability for some kind of healing and understanding. I believe that in the end compassion and seeing each other as beloved relatives, even our enemies, is more powerful than guns.



I will be taking Facebook down tonight for awhile. Thanks to my supporters. Thanks to those who disagreed with my stance but were willing to dialogue with civility. We live in a circle. A circle has no sides. Maybe the circle of life on this earth has been broken. Maybe not--Either way, I do not condone killing of anyone. Never have...


Tel Aviv

I sit in a hotel room in Tel Aviv. I am far from my tribal home in Oklahoma. In eternal time, each is a room in the same heart.

I was invited to perform and speak here at Tel Aviv University several months ago. I was a guest here nearly twenty years ago and remembered this place with a great fondness. I recalled the open discussions and the cultural mix of students. I accepted the invitation.

I am aware of the nearly unbearable political strife here. These lands are in the heart area of this Earth. The Jewish people consider these lands their homelands. They have survived countless persecutions and suffered as they made their way home. The Palestinian people are captive in their own homes. There are checkpoints to enter and leave. They do not own title to a country. They are not free. This situation is much like that of my people. We were force-marched from our homelands. Then our lands of resettlement were stolen again.

I am not so na├»ve as to think art is beyond politics. The arts are and have been used in the regeneration of the spirit of the people.  They carry blood, memory and cultures. The arts can also be co-opted for political gain or loss. I am in the service of the source of the poetry and music. With that spirit there is no bargaining with governments, religions or ideologies.
The morning after I left on my journey I received an email from a friend and colleague. He asked me to reconsider my trip. This was the first I learned of the US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel.  I was puzzled at this request at such a late hour because this colleague had known of my plans to go to Tel Aviv for while.

I came here for the opportunity to speak with and hear the voices of the people, especially the young. I came to be in support of justice and compassion. I don’t believe that the majority of the people in these lands or anywhere in the world are in support of the killings. Now my social media pages and message boxes are filled with a campaign to force a boycott, with messages of polarization, as if there is one way to poetry, resistance or empowerment. There are also messages of support.

I will never forget being on stage the opening night of a large poetry festival in Durban, South Africa. Then U.S. President George Bush was bombing the Gulf and everyone hated the Americans. Each participating poet was given an elaborate introduction, except for me. I was introduced: “This is Joy Harjo. She is an American.” The heavy silence that followed was filled with hate. I was an object of contempt no matter what I sang or what I said for the rest of the conference. I was not in support of the killings on my behalf by the U.S. government. I had actively opposed them, but in the collective audience mind, I was implicated.

I feel that same atmosphere of censure now in the ultimatum that I am being given to boycott. I admire and respect the scholars and artists who have backed the boycott. I stand with their principles, but they will not see it that way.

I refused an invitation to the White House because I disagreed with George W. Bush and his politics. I stepped down from a tenured university position with security and benefits to register my disapproval of unethical practices involving a colleague and students and the persecution of other faculty members who objected. I have always stood in support of human rights, and the Palestinian cause has always been close to my heart.

I will perform at the university as I promised, to an audience that will include Palestinian students. The students have written in support of me being here. I will let the words and music speak for that place beyond those who would hurt and destroy for retribution, or to be right. It is my hope that my choice will generate discussion and understanding for many paths to justice.

Joy Harjo
December 10, 2012 Tel Aviv



"Tiempo" was my answer in a dream about music. It was the correct answer. I was happy to be studying music seriously. Last night and this morning panicked about time running away from me. I need my art. The business of it right now is eating everything. I believe most artists go through this. Female artists even more so--because we always have obligations that men do not. So....I will breathe "tiempo".


Not Yet

Strange winds and weather this morning. The forecast is 75 degrees! We are in the midst of heavy changes. Many forecast the end of the world as December 21st. I believe it ends and begins with every breath we take, give back and share. It is a rare gift to come to this place called Earth. We promised to learn to dance through storms with grace, to speak the truth with dignity, to sing it. We are not done yet.