Recent News​ & Happenings

from the professional world of Taté Walker

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Performance Poetry

A Lakota poet comes out to play, 2019-2020

I've always been a poet. In fact, I'd say poetry was my first, true written medium of storytelling, without really knowing what I was doing, of course. My first viral blog was a poem about The Lone Ranger, and I tend to express myself more easily through verse, since I don't feel the need to explain myself with cited sources in my poetry (versus my thoroughly researched articles). However, I've never performed my poetry prior to August 2019, so it's humbling and exciting that I've been asked to do so several times since then. 

 

So many requests for my poetry has come in that I now have a full chapbook ready for publication (fingers crossed there will be an announcement on that soon!).

 

The word is out that my poetry makes folx feel some kind of way. Here's a roundup of the events curators across the Phoenix Valley have asked me to perform at:

  • Asdzáá resistDANCE: A celebratory dance party lifting up the fierce magic and power of femme, trans, gnc, womxn identifying community members at Palabras Bilingual Bookstore. Curated by Grownup Navajo (August 2, 2019).

  • Indigenous Peoples' Day: A special poetry reading at the Phoenix Art Museum in honor of Indigenous Peoples’ Day with Raquel Denis, Anna Flores, Amber McCrary, Jake Skeets, Sareya Taylor, and Taté Walker (October 14, 2019). I read an updated version of this anti-Columbus poem.

  • First Friday: The Heard Museum's First Friday event of the decade features musician and artist Randy Kemp (Mvskoke-Creek/Euchee/Choctaw), and a poetry slam in the Monte Vista room emcee'd by the 2019 Phoenix Youth Poet Laureate Sareya Taylor (White Mountain Apache, Diné). Additional Poets included in this special Poetry Slam include Taté Walker (Mniconjou Lakota), Dominique Daye Hunter and Jay Mercado (January 3, 2020).

  • Phoenix Youth Poet Laureate: An open mic featuring featured poet Sareya Taylor and special guest Taté Walker at ASU's Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing (January 11, 2020).

  • Spoken Medicine: Poetry, laughter, shop, and meet-and-greet at K'é Main Street Learning Lab with headliner Tenille K. Campbell (Métis, Dene), and featuring Sareya Taylor, Tomás Karmelo, Dominique Daye Hunter, and Taté Walker (January 18, 2020).

 

Listen to my poem, Root My Heart at Wounded Knee, which I read at the Heard Museum's First Friday event.

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Articles of a Treaty

An inverse retelling of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty for annual CAIRNS art exhibit, May 2019

This year’s educational art exhibit ⎯ Articles of a Treaty ⎯ focuses on the articles of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty between the “different bands of the Sioux Nation of Indians” and the United States. The title is the first four words of the treaty.

The 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty contains seventeen articles. Each article is interpreted by one or two artists. These thirty-two individuals are the visual artists of the exhibit. Poets and musicians also created works for Articles of a Treaty. There is one poem and one song associated with each article. Mine is one of 17 poems included in the exhibit.

A team of educational advisors is also developing K-12 curriculum based on the exhibit. This curriculum will include activities for incorporating the exhibit into classrooms while meeting tribe, national and state standards.

Finally, CAIRNS will also develop a community-based version of the exhibit that consists of high-quality reproductions of the artworks printed on standard-sized panels. These can be exhibited in schools, conference rooms, business lobbies, community buildings, libraries and other venues. The goal is to make the exhibit widely accessible.

 

Read my poem, Critical Remembrancehere.

Woman of Size Podcast

Funny, poignant podcast discussing the various successful ways we claim space in fat bodies, February 2019

After posting a Twitter thread about the harm of singer Jason Mraz's Two Spirit appropriation, I'm asked to do a few podcasts about the subject (including this one with Medicine for the Resistance), given my roles and responsibilities as a Lakota Two Spirit person. Host Jana Schmieding (who coincidentally is also Lakota from Cheyenne River!) invites me on her show, Woman of Size, to talk Two Spirits and fat bodies. It's the premiere show for season 2 of her podcast, and it gets recognized by Mark Ruffalo!

 

Breaking down Native issues, or Indigenous commentary from a contemporary feminist, Two Spirit perspective.

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Watch: Violence Against Indigenous Womxn*: Sexism, Colonialism & Health Equity

Write-up & video of my Denver lecture for The Colorado Trust's Health Equity Learning Series on Jan. 10, 2019.

A presentation on the violence and marginalization faced today by Indigenous womxn, primarily due to the ongoing, chronic impacts of settler colonialism. 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. Using these statistics combined with data and daily examples of a variety of harm experienced by Native womxn, I provide critical context from cultural, historical, systemic and gender-based viewpoints, and also provide strategies for demanding and achieving justice for Indigenous womxn and their communities.

 

Read more about the presentation here, and here, AND check out the video of the full presentation below.

This lecture is usually presented as a two-hour workshop with audience interaction. Interested in having me talk about violence and anti-violence strategies or another Indigenous-specific topic? Check out my Speaking Engagements page for more information about how to book me for your next event. 

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Watch: Fierce Book Reading in SoHo

Nine of 13 authors gather on a rainy winter day to read from the FIERCE anthology to great fanfare.

 

I am super-excited to release a clip from the FIERCE reading last month, held at the SOHO20 gallery and hosted by artist Eva Mantell in front of her WRECKstasy show. The YouTube clip below showcases nine of the anthology's 13 incredible writers; it was shot and edited by Cherry Pie Pictures.

 

Fierce: Essays by and About Dauntless Women features 13 writers discussing fierce womxn throughout history and from a variety of backgrounds. Read more in FIERCE: Essays by and about Dauntless Women (Nauset Press, 2018). Illustrations by Anna Torbina. ISBN-13: 978-0-9907154-4-3 #FierceBook

If you haven't already, get the book here: https://amzn.to/2Mr1L7k!

 

Engaging! Entertaining! Educating!

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Anthology Announcement!

New anthology to hit shelves just in time for the holidays, November 2018

 

I'm excited to announce my debut as an author in a published anthology! 

 

Fierce: Essays by and About Dauntless Women features 13 writers discussing fierce womxn throughout history and from a variety of backgrounds. The book will be released by Nauset Press on November 30, 2018.

 

From the publisher: "Lakota writer and activist Taté Walker features Ptesáŋwiŋ (White Buffalo Calf Woman), from Lakota oral history in Origins. Ptesáŋwiŋ is invoked to weave a tale of pre- and post-colonial feminism with personal and political threads, a tale backed by statistical evidence. Walker’s storytelling will force an uncomfortable reckoning among readers of conscience with white and settler privilege, who—due to government-led genocide, media misrepresentation, and erasure of Indigenous people—often forget Indigenous women in their quest for justice. Origins compels readers to be better as allies, friends, and sisters." 

 

Read more in FIERCE: Essays by and about Dauntless Women publishing by Nauset Press on November 30, 2018. Illustrations by Anna Torbina. ISBN-13: 978-0-9907154-4-3 #FierceBook

 

Research, deadlines, and intense subject matters are my jam!

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NSPRA Communication Award

National School Public Relations Association marketing honor, May 2018

 

The postcard I designed to market my employer's event (Kindergarten Roundup) won an honorable mention from NSPRA, the National School Public Relations Association, during their annual awards recognition program, for which more than 1,000 entries were received. Everything about the postcard was my creation: The concept, the photograph, editing, text elements, production, and distribution. 

 

NSPRA also featured the Strategic Plan video I shot and produced in its weekly national newsletter.

Award-winning designs for all your media needs. Ask me how!

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Unceded Hearts/Unceded Minds

Co-curator and featured professional artist of photography exhibit, March 2018

 

The Arizona State University Northlight Gallery hosted a photography exhibition featuring professional Indigenous artists from across Arizona, including a selection of my own photos (shown below). I was asked to co-curate.

 

Here is the curatorial statement I wrote for the show: Unceded Hearts/Unceded Minds: Enduring Through Indigenous Photography represents a broad spectrum of experiential and creative images from artists living and learning in so-called Arizona.

 

Displayed purposefully alongside portraits taken by Edward S. Curtis, who is quintessentially associated with artful—if romantically inaccurate—Indigenous imagery, the work of these artists explores the enduring power of perspective and self-representation through visual storytelling in ways that move viewers beyond one-dimensional depictions of a once-considered “vanishing race.” 

 

Enduring Through Indigenous Photography features the work of Jennifer Hubbell, Jacob Meders, Douglas Miles, Priscilla Tacheney, Taté Walker, and Indigenous students from Salt River High School and showcases Native narratives that empower audiences to reflect their own truths.

Let me utilized my well-maintained professional and social network to curate fantastic Indigenous art.

MEDIA INDIGENA Podcast

Canadian First Nations podcast discussing Indigenous current affairs, 2016-2018

 

On-again, off-again guest of the mediaINDIGENA podcast with host Rick Harp. Listen!

  • Ep. 123: A taste of Indigenous food politics

  • Ep. 122: Canada's systems of (mis)education and Indigenous peoples

  • Ep. 88: Canada's highest court rules in favour of ski resort over sacred site

  • Ep. 86: Why your kid will survive not being an 'Indian Princess' on Halloween

  • Ep. 84: Why traditional tastes in food turned some testy in Toronto

  • Ep. 82: Did Indigenous women help wage a ‘witch hunt’ of Wab Kinew?

  • Ep. 80: Cherokee Freedmen, Adam Beach Boycott, Indian Country Today

  • Ep. 79: Meet the MEDIA INDIGENA Roundtable

  • Ep. 76: Charlottesville, Guam and the 'Eskimos' of Edmonton

  • Ep. 75: Child welfare's links to homelessness; BC overdose data; what is authentic Indigenous art?

  • Ep. 70: Tempest in a Teepee on Parliament Hill; Pressure at the Press Gallery

  • Ep. 63: Does '13 Reasons Why' sensationalize suicide? Aboriginal authors on the curriculum

  • Ep. 43: Indigenous Look Back at 2016; Joseph Boyden Identity Questions

 

Breaking down Native issues, or Indigenous commentary from a contemporary feminist perspective.

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Takuwe

Performance poetry and art exhibited across South Dakota, March 2018-Present

 

 

Lakota word: Takuwe. In English: Why. The focus of the exhibit is the 1890 massacre of Lakotas at Wounded Knee, but it will include historical context leading to the massacre, along with contemporary context related to land issues and opportunities at Wounded Knee today.

 

I am one of seven poets (43 total artists) participating in this year's CAIRNS' exhibit. My poem, Root My Heart at Wounded Knee, plays on a similar title by Dee Brown , who depicts Natives primarily as pitiable victims. While that's not necessarily inaccurate (really, it's a great book), it's definitely not the whole story, especially when considering Wounded Knee's descendants.

 

Here's what I wrote about my poem for the exhibition:

 

Aside from the fact that the Wounded Knee Massacre is one of the most significant events in Lakota and Indigenous history, I chose to participate in this exhibit for two reasons: to heal and help heal. As an individual actively healing from various traumas, creating art allows me to express my emotions in positive ways and there is no better organization to heal alongside than the Center for American Indian Research and Native Studies, which provides a safe and supportive space to share my heartwork. And because the traumatic subject matter of this exhibit is so inextricably tied to Indigenous identity in the United States, I wanted to narrate the history from an angle of strength, hope, and healing. 

 

The writing prompt for my poem was "interment," the burying of a corpse. One of the photos people share heavily on the anniversary of the Wounded Knee Massacre depicts a trench around which several men in long winter coats and hats pose; two men stand coatless inside the trench, the top of which comes to about their necks. Mounds of bodies, some covered and some with atrophied limbs and faces frozen in tragedy, are inside the trench, and other bodies await the mass grave at the feet of the posing, coated men. I hate this photo. Even in death, my ancestors are treated like trash, and every year this picture shows them literally at the feet of gun-toting colonizers. It felt necessary to change the narrative of an image like this, of the narrative surrounding the interment of my people at Wounded Knee.

 

I was introduced to the word "inter" as a high school freshman studying the work of Shakespear. After Julius Caesar is murdered, Marc Antony tells a crowd, "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones; so let it be with Caesar." Antony goes on to rile up the crowd in a trickster-like fashion, which eventually leads to Caesar being avenged. In this way, the interment of Caesar ultimately exposed the evils of others and led to healing among the people he ruled. I modeled my poem on Antony's emotionally-charged rhetoric and wrote from the perspective of the being into whom my ancestors were interred: Maka, the Earth. 

 

Maka is timeless and her experiences are beyond what any human could ever comprehend. What happened to my ancestors at Wounded Knee was terrible and its terribleness continues to have a profound impact on the intergenerational psyches of Lakota people. We are still in mourning, still trying to survive and sometimes it feels like we're dying of each survival tactic we're forced to adopt. My heart aches for a time Native people won't have to simply survive - but thrive. Perhaps adjusting the narrative so that Native people are repositioned as ones who overcome can help, which is what I attempt to do in this poem through the Earth's acceptance of those who were massacred at Wounded Knee. The Earth doesn't dismiss the tragedy, but instead appreciates that these 300 hearts will seed the next generations - that they are the foundation--the roots--of the ultimate resistance our young people will lead.

 

Listen to an audio version of my poem, Root My Heart at Wounded Knee.

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Tapun Sa Win

Humorous, feminist, and poetic storytelling included in annual CAIRNS art exhibit, April-July 2017

According to Lakota legend, long ago there was a beautiful young woman who married a star and went to live with him in the sky. Near the due date for the birth of her baby, she inadvertently created a hole in the sky through which she could see her relatives on earth. This made her lonesome so she braided a rope to descend to them. The Tapun Sa Win  exhibit focuses on a short narrative based in part on a story by James LaPointe (Oglala Lakota) that is in his 1976 book, Legends of the Lakota. Our exhibit divides the 1,095-word narrative into seven “passages.”

 

My poem, For Tapun Sa Win, was included in the CAIRNS' annual art exhibit and centers the main character and reimagines her story as one of life and strength that I know Indigenous womxn to be filled with, rather than death and despair. Honoring the grand tradition of storytelling, my poem seeks to evolve and transform a womxn heretofore existing for the men in her life only (her husband, Waziya Wicahpi or the North Star, and her son Wicahpe Hihnpaya or Fallen Star). In my poem, Tapun Sa Win is a funny, fully-capable womxn who falls in love with someone who respects her enough to follow where she leads.

 

Read parts of my poem and learn about the Tapun Sa Win story here.

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The Great Race

In which my poem reclaims "Sioux" for the Lakota and recasts serpents as strength everlasting, March-June 2016

 

According to Lakota legend, long ago there was a great race between the four-leggeds and the two-leggeds. The purpose was to determine which of the two groups of contestants would have precedence over the other. But one unintended consequence of the race was that the Black Hills were caused to come into being. The Great Race exhibit focuses on the short narrative of the race by James LaPointe (Oglala Lakota), that is in his 1976 book, Legends of the Lakota. Our exhibit divides the 1,218-word narrative into 8 “passages.”

 

One of the innovative aspects of this exhibit is that each of the passages will be interpreted or illustrated by four types of artworks—a 2-D artwork, a 3-D artwork, a poem and a musical score or song—thereby creating what we are calling “vignettes.” These eight vignettes will recount the Great Race narrative using LaPointe’s words along with artworks by 32 contemporary Lakota artists: eight poets, eight painters, eight musicians and eight 3-dimension artists. 

 

 

My poem, Embracing My Inner Strength, or The Lakota Ouroboros, is available for purchase in the Great Race exhibit catalog .

MEDIA INDIGENA Podcast

Canadian First Nations podcast discussing Indigenous current affairs, December 2016

 

I'm invited to participate in a month-long roundtable with Cutcha Risling Baldy , another Indigenous activist and Native American studies (now at Humboldt State University), on the mediaINDIGENA podcast with host Rick Harp. Listen!

 

 

Breaking down Native issues, or Indigenous commentary from a contemporary feminist perspective.

Everday Feminism & #NoDAPL

3 Things You Need to Know About Indigenous Efforts Against the Dakota Access Pipeline, September 2016

 

Standing Rock and its Native allies—those 90-plus nations mentioned above—need major accomplice support from non-Natives if our efforts to defeat the Dakota Access Pipeline are to gain enough media (and therefore political) attention to succeed. If you’re into solidarity—or clean drinking water, at the bare minimum—the Native nations in Standing Rock need your body, and/or your dollars, and/or your platform to uplift our efforts and our messaging. Situations on-site occur daily. In general, here’s what you need to know.

Breaking down Native issues, or Indigenous commentary from a contemporary feminist perspective.

Native American Journalists Association

National organization recognizes outstanding journalism from Indigenous writers, September 2016

 

I was awarded top prizes in the "Professional Division III" category (8,000+ daily circulation).

 

View my award-winning pieces by clicking the links above. Contact me about content development here.

J.K. Rowling and the Cursed Colonial

Protest poem published on my blog, July 2016

 

Rowling seems to be channeling Lockhart-like ego and real-world dismissiveness when it comes to Indigenous criticisms of her History of Magic in North America writings released as lead ups to the Fantastic Beasts films. While seemingly a staunch liberal supporter of inclusion and diversity, i.e. gay Dumbledore and Black Hermione, Rowling purposefully bulldozes (read: obliviates) very real spiritual and cultural understandings of the Native people she’s appropriating (read: stealing) aspects of her HOMINA stories from. Like the narcissistic Lockhart who’s well-loved the world over for writing books, Rowling’s global legion of rabid fans have harassed and trolled Native critics who (as many were fans of her magical work themselves) only asked that she try harder (or, you know, try at all) to be more sensitive, more creative, and less Euro-centric in her work based across the pond on Turtle Island. Generally known for engaging fans online, Rowling has simply blocked Natives out of sight and out of mind. Celebrity is as celebrity does, eh, Jo?

View my award-winning pieces by clicking the links above. Contact me about content development here.

Badass Ladies You Should Know
An interview with author Kate Hart for her website feature of badass women, June 2016

 

I was honored when asked by Kate Hart to do an interview for her awesome website: "Badass Ladies You Should Know is a series in which talented women say to hell with false modesty. Features are interspersed with links to amazing ladies highlighted elsewhere." 

I've been a fan of the site (and women featured!) for a long time for its intersectionalism and inclusivity. It's so nice to get to know other women in a safe space. Here's an excerpt from my interview: 

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Taté: Be your authentic self. Do your best at whatever level you're at with whatever resources you have. It's so easy in this age of over-sharing to want to be everything for everyone. I think women, especially women of color, get caught up in this trap that we aren't enough (we aren't pretty enough, skinny enough, rich enough, white enough). Believe that you are enough and surround yourself with others who believe you are enough.

And vote.

 

Read my profile and those of other badass women here.

Minorities in Publishing
A podcast interview with publishing professional Jenn Baker, June 2016

 

MiP is a podcast discussing diversity (or lack thereof) in the book publishing industry with other professionals working in-house as well as authors and those in the literary scene. It is the brain child of the fabulous Jenn Baker

In my interview, we discuss how I got into editing and publishing, fair pay for fair labor, how to pitch stories, and how to be better media consumers, among other exciting topics.

 

Learn more about Minorities in Publishing here.

Dear J.K. Rowling: Staaaahhpp!

A literary giant stomps on Native histories and beliefs for profit; my daughter and I respond, March 2016

 

When J.K. Rowling’s History of Magic in North America launched [early March], many Indigenous fans like me were crushed.

Read my initial response here. Then be sure to check out Debbie Reese’s blog, American Indians in Children’s Literature, which has a nice roundup of Indigenous criticisms to Rowling’s phoned-in, bare-minimum, stereotypical depictions of Native wizards.

Since then, I’ve been asked to discuss my views specifically as a fan and Native mother. Check out my interviews with The HumanistNative America Calling, and local newspapers.

But the most important interview I’ve done is with my daughter, Mimi. She’s 7 years old (well, 7-in-a-half!) and the light of my life. We tag team the Harry Potter fandom in our house. We’re reading the books together (again – this time around she helps read and instead of the paperbacks, we downloaded all of the illustrated iPad versions) and try to get a least an hour of book time in a few times per week.

 

Read the rest of this blog and other viral hits here

NAJA Media Award Winner

Features, editorials, and photos - Oh my! - awarded July 2015

 

For the first time, I can say I'm not only an award-winning journalist for news and features alone, but this year my editorials and photos were honored as well. I won in the Professional Division III (circulation above 8K + online). Check out my awards:

Print – Best Feature Story

1st Place: "Music as Medicine: Life and Lyrics of Frank Waln" (Native Peoples Magazine)

Print – Excellence in Beat Reporting

2nd Place: Native Artists (Native Peoples Magazine)

Online – Best Feature Photo (combined category)

2nd Place: Scatter Their Own "Coming Into Their Own" (Native Peoples Magazine)

Online – Best Column

2nd Place: "Life or Death: Heat Is a Necessity, Not a Luxury" (Indian Country Today Media Network)

 

Have a story idea? If you need one, I've got plenty! Visit my Contact page to talk logistics and deadlines.

4 Things Your History Teacher Didn’t Know About Native Americans – But You Should

Viral post written for Everyday Feminism, April 2015

 

I'm always surprised by how well posts like these do - thousands of shares and tens of thousands of hits within the first day. I'm am not the first - nor will I be the last - to write on the pervasive myths continuing to pull indigenous people down. 

 

In this article, I tackle four lies non-Natives believe unquestioningly: 

(1) Natives don't pay taxes

(2) Natives get ALL the free stuff

(3) college is free if you're Native

(4) Natives are unpatriotic. 

 

Links to my other Everyday Feminism articles can be found here.

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© 2016 by Taté Walker