Recent News & Happenings
from the professional world of Taté Walker
Abalone Mountain Press, June 2022
In this debut poetry collection, Lakota storyteller Taté Walker steps into the role of a contemporary trickster to continue the purposefully disruptive legacy of a cultural icon: Iktómi, the Spider. The Trickster Riots weaves through the origins of a lost baby queer in love and spiritache to shapeshift into a momma spider exploring what it means to be a good relative, an obliterator of status quo, and a builder of community.
Walker’s provocative wordplay channels Iktómi with sometimes inharmonious examinations of Indigeneity. The poems weaponize (webonize?) the English language against colonial normativity and navigate the responsibilities of an urban Two Spirit writer carrying and empowering the next generations. Additionally, the book includes marvelously tricksy illustrations by Ohíya Walker (Lakota/Ojibwe/Creek), a 13-year-old trans/nonbinary artist. Buckle up: The Trickster Riots journeys through fury and disaffection, libratic ceremony, and the lightning bolts of a struggling future ancestor.
All pre-orders come with an exclusive riso print design by the poet and illustrator. Pre-orders will be shipped the week of May 23, 2022. Read more about Abalone Mountain Press, the first-ever Diné asdzaan-owned publishing house, here (page 22).
Support your friendly, neighborhood Two Spirit poet (and their talented kid!) by purchasing a copy!
World Poetry Day, March 21, 2022
Watch the Indian Country Today Newscast (broadcast news). This episode, "Celebrating & protecting Indigenous art," introduced viewers to all kinds of Indigenous artists: a Tlingit culinary artist and a Mniconjou Lakota poet (yours truly). Plus, a Canadian woman is using her talents to expose fraudulent Indigenous art. Click here to watch the video (scroll to 12:30 if you just want to watch my part).
Support your friendly, neighborhood Two Spirit poet (and their talented kid!) by purchasing a copy! All preorders will come with a special riso print designed by the illustrator and featuring the poets words.
A Lakota poet comes out to play, 2020-2021
Most of these were virtual events hosted to create and maintain connection during the pandemic. I am so proud of my evolution as a storytelling (both writing and performing). We officially announced my poetry book in the fall of 2021.
Emerging Beyond Genocidal Colonization: Hosted by Abalone Mountain Press at Palabras Bookstore, this was the first in-person event I've read at in more than two years! Featuring Lydia Martinez, Taté Walker, Ruben Cu:k Ba'ak, Sara Sams, Bojan Louis, and Laura Tohe. (December 3, 2021)
Poets & Muses Podcast: Not technically a "poetry reading," also, yeah, technically kinda. Episode description: This week, Taté Walker and host Imogen Arate discuss their respective poems, "I LIKE TACOS" and "Indulgence," and double entendres. (October 29, 2021)
Indigenous Matriarch Poetry: ASU Labriola requested I host their Open Mic event and curate readers to perform. I intentionally chose Indigenous matriarchs - caregivers, including Dr. Marisa Duarte, Tracey Sekayumptewa, Esmi Sanchez, and Laura Medina. (January 28, 2021)
Queer Poetry Salon: Equality Arizona curated an amazing line-up of queer and Two Spirit poets, featuring Tommy Pico, Jake Skeets, and Smokii Sumac. These readers were introduced by Tate' Walker, Cleo Kehna, and Sareya Taylor. (December 12, 2020)
Emerging Beyond Genocidal Colonization: If you can get beyond the slightly convoluted title, the readers of this event are stellar, including Simon J. Ortiz, Bill Wetzel, Mario Matus Villa, Taté Walker, and Ruben Cu:k Ba'ak. (November 26, 2020)
ASU Labriola Open Mic: Arizona State University's Labriola National American Indian Data Center hosted this as a virtual open house for their new facility, as well as a poetry reading and open mic. Featuring Amber McCrary, Taté Walker, Sareya Taylor, Ruben Cu:k Ba'ak, Laura Medina, KaLynn Yazzie, Tyler Miller, and Dr. Henry Quintero. (August 27, 2020)
Listen to my poem, Root My Heart at Wounded Knee, which I read at the Heard Museum's First Friday event.
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).
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.
Featured guest on Breakthrough TV, July 2020
Event description: Welcome to Breakthrough Spotlight, a video and podcast series featuring conversations with community leaders, activists, artists and partner organizations working to build a world that is more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable for all. In this conversation, we spotlight how COVID-19 is affecting Indigenous communities, and offer creative nourishment and healing. This conversation was recorded live on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, and was aired on Wednesday, July 29th, 2020 10am PT/ 1pm ET. I also serve on a project advisory board for Breakthrough.
I offer down-to-earth analysis of complex issues on a variety of platforms, including video conferencing.
Op-ed Article for The Nation, May 2020
I was asked to pen an article for The Nation about the impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous communities. Here is the opening graph: For Indigenous people there are two viruses. One has been killing us for centuries. The novel coronavirus is biological and blameless, while colonialism is a man-made cocktail of historical and political toxicity. For the sake of metaphor, work with me here, because you cannot discuss the wildfire that is Covid-19 and the disparities it uncovers without recognizing how colonialism has fueled the blaze.
Indigenous voices must be represented equitably in mainstream media to ensure important topics aren't swept under the colonial rug.
With Readings, 3rd Edition, W.W. Norton Anthology, 2020 Selected Journalist
Book description: Students today are writing more than ever. Everyone’s an Author bridges the gap between the writing students already do—online, at home, in their communities—and the writing they’ll do in college and beyond. It builds student confidence by showing that they already know how to think rhetorically and offers advice for applying those skills as students, professionals, and citizens. Because students are also reading more than ever, the third edition includes NEW advice for reading critically, engaging respectfully with others, and distinguishing facts from misinformation.
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 Remembrance, here.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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).
1st Place - Best Column
1st Place - Best Feature Photo
1st Place - Best Feature Story
3rd Place - Best Feature Story
View my award-winning pieces by clicking the links above. Contact me about content development here.
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.
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.