Speaking Engagements

 

Taté Walker (they/them) is a Lakota citizen of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe of South Dakota. They are an award-winning Two Spirit storyteller for outlets like The NationPipe WrenchApartment Therapy, Subaru Drive, Everyday Feminism, Native PeoplesIndian Country Today, and ANMLY. They are also featured in several anthologies: FIERCE: Essays by and about Dauntless WomenSouth Dakota in Poems, W.W. Norton's Everyone's an Author, and The Languages of Our Love: An Indigenous Love and Sex Anthology (forthcoming Summer 2022). Their first full-length poetry book, The Trickster Riots, was published June 1, 2022, by Abalone Mountain Press.

 

Taté uses their 15+ years of experience working for daily newspapers, social justice organizations, and tribal education systems to organize students and professionals around issues of critical cultural competency, anti-racism/anti-bias, and inclusive community building.

 

ALL TOPICS CAN BE SHAPED TO MEET CLIENT NEEDS. THIS IS NOT AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST OF POSSIBLE TOPICS.

 

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#LandBack
Mitakuye Oyasin is a Lakota philosophy that roughly translates to "we are all related" or "all my relations." It recognizes one's relationship and responsibility to all living things and reminds us to always consider how our behaviors and actions impact the life around us. Unsurprisingly, this philosophy is at odds with colonialism and the capitalist notions of "me" over "we." This discussion will review the universal and practical applications of Mitakuye Oyasin and how humans can cultivate kinship with the life, space, and time around them in ways that reject Western bootstrap/individualistic theories and acknowledge and affirm Indigenous people, values, and practices. 
Ceremonial Poetics
Poetry has the ability to translate the sacred and ceremonial in accessible ways. In this class, we'll review a selection of poems by contemporary Indigenous artists and discuss how various poetic forms, including language/word use, visuals, and performance, can bridge and build community and kin. Participants will learn to recognize and empower the ceremony inherent within their everyday lives in ways that will strengthen the impact of their own art and relationships.
Poetry is a Spirit Bead: On Writing and Embracing the Magnificent Imperfect
If you've ever been told or thought your writing didn't meet traditional poetry standards, you're not alone. Many of us have felt like an imposter or not good enough to write or submit a poem, but this discussion with Two Spirit Lakota storyteller Taté Walker will help participants recognize the innate poet within. Because poetry format and metaphors are cool but a lot of awesomeness can happen when you relax and get playful, creative, and be yourself. This casual conversation will also include helpful tips and techniques Walker used on their own imperfect journey with writing and publishing.
Two Spirit:
Gender & Sexuality in
Native American Cultures
Pre-invasion, many Turtle Island nations of so-called North and Central America recognized flexible identities with regards to gender and sexuality. This lecture details historical and contemporary stories and language used by several prominent tribes across what is now known as the United States, including Two Spirit, which participants will discover is not synonymous with LGBQ, trans, or a stand-in for any mainstream/Western concepts of gender/sexual identity - and that not every queer Native is Two Spirit! Participants of this training will learn about traditional Indigenous gender roles, the past and present responsibilities of Two Spirits, and how to create and strengthen inclusive service models when working with queer Native youth, their families, and communities.
Violence Against Indigenous Womxn: Sexism, Racism
& Settler Colonialism
Indigenous womxn face extreme marginalization at the crossroads of several identities and social structures. The combination of identities and oppressions related to sex, gender, and race, among other identity/social aspects, are deeply tied to and intensified by the history and ongoing impact of settler colonialism. This takes shape in many dire and underreported ways: The U.S. murder rate for Indigenous womxn in some tribal communities is 10 times the national average; one in three Indigenous womxn will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime; and domestic violence rates are seven times higher for Indigenous womxn than womxn from other demographics. This presentation provides critical context to these and other violent realities from cultural, historical, systemic and gender-based viewpoints. Participants will come away with an understanding of the health inequities experienced by Indigenous womxn due to sexism and colonization, as well as strategies to demand and achieve justice for Indigenous womxn and their communities.
The Role of Womxn in
Indigenous Societies
From 1492 to Today
The European arrival to Turtle Island brought with it the slave trade, disease, and colonial misogyny. This lecture will discuss how, pre-contact, Indigenous womxn in many tribes across the continent enjoyed a life free of male-centered dominance; they held property, could enter marriage and divorce by choice, chose their roles in society, and more. As settler shadows spread across the land, Indigenous people were forced to revisit and adapt colonial gender roles and some even lost important ceremonies and practices. Still, the strength and resilience of womxn in tribal communities remains solid and is often the foundation upon which modern movements stand upon, whether we’re talking the environment, mascots, education, or culture revitalization.
574: An Introduction to Native American Cultural Competency
Today there are 574 federally recognized tribes in the United States. What does that mean? How should public and private service providers interact with this very specific, yet extremely varied demographic to ensure stereotypes and other harmful messaging are addressed appropriately and respectfully? This program provides participants with useful tools to interact with Native American clients from across the country. We’ll discuss the differences among Natives living on reservations vs. urban areas, the negative statistics plaguing the mainstream concept of what it is to be Native (poor, alcoholic, under-educated, over-imprisoned, etc.), and the modern movements putting Natives in the mainstream spotlight. We’ll also look at several local/regional service providers participants can access to learn more about Natives in their community.
Not Your Tonto: Native American Representations in Pop Culture
This presentation discusses the appropriation of Indigenous identity and culture, from sports mascots to Sephora sage kits to DNA tests. Participants will look specifically at how colonial government dehumanization campaigns shaped stereotypical newspaper, book, and Hollywood portrayals that eventually led to today’s romanticized erasures saturating mainstream America. Breaking down these stereotypes, from the savagely male warrior to the hyper-sexualized Indian maiden, is tantamount to moving forward, which must be done with care and respect to the 570+ living and breathing Indigenous nations struggling to keep their communities and culture intact in the face of hipster headdresses, Tonto, Tiger Lily, and R**skins.
The Harm of Indian Mascots on Native American Youth
Debated since the early-1900s, the subject of Indian mascots across all levels of academics and athletics is a truly divisive issue. Many schools, teams, and states have retired, replaced, and banned Indian mascots, while others hold strongly to their "tradition." Participants of this training will learn why Indian mascots are racist and harmful, recent litigation concerning mascots, and how to accurately discuss the issue with youth and adults. Participants will leave the training armed with resources to encourage the Native youth and families they work with and live alongside to become more engaged in the effort to retire Indian mascots.
Not Your Cliché:
A Look at the Stereotypes Plaguing Tribal Communities
When we think about Native Americans, several words or images float to the surface: Poverty, alcoholism, suicide, incarceration, uneducated, freeloader, tax-evader, Indian giver and more. How do we know this? Predictive search algorithms on engines like Google can tell us what people are searching for when it comes to Native Americans and implicit bias research continues to explore how these stereotypes impact all aspects of Indigenous existence. Why are those stereotypes so prevalent? This presentation takes several of the most common stereotypes plaguing tribal communities, looks at myths and truths therein, and offers resources to service providers and allies alike to make changes in tribal communities to move beyond banality.
Columbus, the Discovery Myth, and the Importance of Teaching Indigenous Histories
For Native Americans and other Indigenous cultures of North America, Christopher Columbus represents something of a joke (at his best) and something of a nightmare (at his worst). The impact of his accidental landing and subsequent exploration and exploitation of this land and its resources is linked to the eventual deaths of millions of indigenous people. He is not an admired part of Native American history. While the rest of America celebrates Columbus on the second Monday in October, South Dakota has the unique distinction of being the only state to celebrate Native American Day instead; other major cities, including Minneapolis and Seattle, have followed suit. In-depth analysis of pre- and post-Columbus Indigenous life, and the controversies surrounding Columbus Day/Native American Day celebrations nationwide will be presented to participants of this training. Attendees will be given easy-to-use guides to use with youth and families to discuss how to honor both this country’s founding, and its first inhabitants.
Moving Past the
Thanksgiving Fairytale
Despite decades of scientific and historical evidence to the contrary, Thanksgiving continues to be celebrated at schools as a fantastical feast of peace and friendship among the Pilgrims and local tribes. While it’s true a feast was had, its foundation is much less shiny and appealing, and its history and celebration often serve as a hurtful reminder to many Natives that our lives are interesting only in the context of colonial fabrication and classroom construction paper. Professionals working with Native youth and families often encounter anger and disenchantment during this and other holidays. However, using traditional Lakota practices, Thanksgiving can still be celebrated in a historically accurate, and positive and uplifting way. Participants of this training will learn the history of Thanksgiving, why the imagery used by companies and primary educators today in marketing the holiday is offensive to many Native Americans, and how to incorporate indigenous perspective, traditions, and spirituality into holiday celebrations.
Remembering Sand Creek, Wounded Knee & The Dakota 38
The winter holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s is often a time of relived trauma for Native Americans in the Midwest regions. Particularly for the tribal people of South Dakota, December is a month of loss and sadness, culminating around Christmas time when two major harrowing events occurred. On Dec. 26, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln signed off on the largest one-day mass execution in American history when 38 Dakota men were hanged for their part in the US-Dakota War. Then, on Dec. 29, 1890, the US Cavalry opened fire on Big Foot’s group of starving, freezing people, killing at least 150 women, children, and elders. These events – alongside others – continue to haunt and affect Natives today in what many call historical PTSD. Still, there are many ways modern Natives honor those killed and the memory of what was fought for. Participants of this training will receive historical overviews of these events, as well as learn ways to ally themselves with Native clients as they heal and move forward with their treatment plans.
Kill the Indian, Save the Man: Impacts of Indian Boarding Schools
For nearly 100 years, from 1879 to 1972, generations of Native youth were forcibly removed from their families and assimilated at federally or religiously run boarding schools where the reigning motto was to “Kill the Indian. Save the man.” Participants of this training will learn how boarding schools operated and for what purpose, how boarding schools severely altered the cultural and spiritual psyche of Native people and communities, how progress is being made at modern Native boarding schools, and what professionals working with Native youth and families can learn from past and present boarding school practices.
Delivering Culturally Competent Health Care
Western medicine is based on Western ideals of wellness with little room for indigenous or traditional healing remedies. Many tribal people, for instance, perceive health as a holistic entity – not just how you feel physically, but emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Participants of this program will (1) consider how cultural competence is necessary to deliver appropriate patient care; (2) become aware of how effective health care considers the cultural traditions, beliefs, and behaviors of the patient; and (3) develop an awareness of the barriers to access of care for minority populations. With this knowledge, participants can create cultural competency plans to take back to their employers or health care centers to encourage inclusive wellness practices that will increase not only job satisfaction, but overall health of patients/clients.

Presentations Specific to the Oceti Sakowin

Oceti Sakowin is the Seven Council Fires of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people, often mistakenly referred to as “Sioux.”

 

  • The Life & Times of the Oceti Sakowin – The Seven Council Fires of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota people are often referred to as the “Sioux” or “The Great Sioux Nation.” This presentation discuss not only why the term “Sioux” is wrong (and offensive), but participants will come away with a deeper understanding of the complexities of this nation that is often harmfully stereotyped by Hollywood, mass media, fashion, and New Agers.

 

  • Oceti Sakowin Family Structure – Western societies are dominated by nuclear family constructs, wherein independence and self-promotion are valued over collective group benefits. For traditional Lakota people, the tiospaye (loosely defined as ‘extended family’) was of the utmost importance; when actions are taken with the group in mind, survival (of group, group culture, group values, etc.) is guaranteed. While many modern Lakota people continue to live within a tiospaye dynamic, many experts agree the breakdown of Lakota tiospaye has resulted in higher instances of risky behaviors from Lakota youth. Participants of this training will receive an overview of Lakota tiospaye, including family interaction, lineage, the benefits/drawbacks of living in a collectivist society, and how/when the tiospaye breakdown occurred. This training focuses on how the tiospaye (or lack thereof) influences family and youth behavior today, as well as practical ways professionals can interact with youth and adults who live in and/or value the traditional Lakota family structure.

 

  • Oceti Sakowin Spirituality - To be Lakota is to inhabit a multi-layered identity. It describes one’s ethnicity, culture, political status, and spirituality. These aspects are inherent when one characterizes themselves as “Lakota.” This training focuses on the spiritual foundation upon which traditional and many modern Lakota people live. Participants will be walked through the basic tenants of the Medicine Wheel, as well as given the opportunity to tangibly experience the four primary spiritual herbal elements: Sage, Sweetgrass, Cedar, and Tobacco. This training is particularly relevant in the age of hipster/New Age religious experimentation, which often lumps in specific Lakota spiritual practices with an often made-up "global" religion practiced by many but understood by few.

 

  • South Dakota Reservations - Raise your hand if you can identify the proper names of the Indian reservations in South Dakota. Raise your hand if you can identify the proper names of the federally recognized tribes in South Dakota. What about their capitols? If that introduction lost you a bit, don’t worry. It loses everyone – even Natives! While many Americans (Native and non-Native alike) can list a majority, if not all of the U.S. states and capitols, those same people generally stare blankly when asked to identity tribes and reservations. This training details the history of reservations, their impact in South Dakota, and how to properly identify these sovereign land bases.

 

  • Oceti Sakowin Origins & Histories – The origin of Lakota people is tied directly to South Dakota. Participants of this training will learn the Lakota creation story, how the Lakota ascended to Earth, and how ongoing and recent land litigation is tied directly back to Lakota existence.

 

Conference Keynotes, Workshops & Radio Interviews Include

Topic (Organization), Location, Date
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What Others Have To Say About Taté

 

Taté had an extraordinary presence while visiting our institution. Her passion and advocacy for inclusivity on the subject of "Moving Past the Thanksgiving Fairytale" was well said and confidently presented. She had a great deal of energy to share this knowledge and provide growth for all leveled-learners. It is incredible to know that her voice is paving the way for Native American injustices everywhere. I wish she could have stayed longer so that we could continue to learn more about other various issues in Native American communities and for underrepresented individuals.

 

– Brenda M., College of Saint Benedict

 

 

The event went swimmingly, in my opinion. Several professors came to the presentation, all complimenting her (to me) afterwards. Everyone who I heard from [found] the presentation to be moving and educational. We [received] more positive feedback at our meeting the next week and on social media. She was able to cover so much information in an hour and a half without compromising our ability to understand her points. She was also really nice and easy to work with, especially considering that she had to spend a full day watching students presentations.

- Bailey R., Cornell College

 

I’ve had the honor of seeing Taté speak and give workshops a number of times and was consistently very impressed. She conveys warmth and friendliness while talking about very difficult issues of social justice. Her optimism and good nature shine through, which seems to keep people grounded during her presentations. Taté is very knowledgeable about social justice issues and quick on her feet, so she can diffuse any tense situations that can come up and turn them into positive, teachable moments in a comfortable, natural manner. One of the things I most admire about Taté is her ability to teach people only as much as they can handle – which builds on her ability to read the audience so she knows how much they can handle. I would recommend her to anyone as an absolutely excellent speaker!

– Clara Jacob, Paulsen

 

 

Taté spoke a large group of high school students for our Youth HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in March of 2013. This was held in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and the youth were from the community and the eastern part of the state. She was well received by the youth and their advisors. She received high remarks and positive feedback from them. I thought her presentation was fantastic and we would love to have her back again. I would highly recommended her speaking for you.

– Nicole Burger, Volunteers of America, Dakota

 

 

 

I attended the 11:00 AM session of the Lakota Competency 101, and I definitely had my eyes opened. Thank you so much for coming in and educating us with more knowledge of the natives to this country. The only education I really every had on Native Americans is that in which I learn in school, and yes the story is very different than the side I heard today. There are so many discriminating stereotypes out there for the Native Americans, which I feel have skewed my view on Natives growing up.  Thank you for opening my eyes and seeing history from a different angle today, I definitely want to learn more and look forward to the video tomorrow.

– Karrisa R., Wells Fargo

 

 

“Saw you speak today and WOW! You were funny and touching. I was so inspired by you.”

– Pam G., PFLAG

 

 

Taté spoke at a PFLAG conference I organized on religion and how it related to and/or affected members of the LGBT community. She was on a panel of four experts from our community — each representing a different religious background. The panel members took questions at random from conference attendees, with no preparation or idea of what the questions might be. Tate’s answers were thoughtful, thorough and delivered impeccably. Her responses were often given with a degree of wit that kept everyone engaged and smiling!

– Terri Carlson, PFLAG Director, Northern Plains PFLAG