Joy Harjo on America’s Disappeared People

 A little touch of Joy Harjo on the “disappearing” of First Nations People in America along with  some clearly not disappeared poetry and  music of her own. I have actually encountered people who think that there are no Native Americans. It’s an odd notion to hear from the mouths of educated, intelligent people. But it’s not really that surprising considering how seldom anyone references American Indians in the media. 

So who wants to talk about the poorest county in the United States according to the recent census data?  


  1. artistatexit0 said,

    February 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Knowing and admitting that there is a problem seems to be the first step in most recovery issues. American history is full of skeletons and contradictions that need addressing. It’s hard to imagine we can be the light of the world until we get our own house in order. There are days I feel we are still dealing with Reconstruction from the Civil War era much less anything else that happened before the 1860’s or after.

    • February 3, 2011 at 1:10 am

      Ahhhh “the light of the world” has a long way to go in cleaning its lamps. It could be though–if we really desired to live up to our own ideals America could evolve into something strange and wonderful.
      Hi Al.

  2. artistatexit0 said,

    February 1, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    Lots of thought provoking stuff here, post and comments. I really want to be proud of this country’s history, but much of this mythology does not pass the sniff test. Native people are a reminder of our original sin which was taking the land from them…and for “us” to acknowledge them now would be to admit that. Some people can’t go there.

    • February 2, 2011 at 5:56 am

      Al! Are you saying that something is rotten in the historical record of the land of milk and honey? Sniff, sniff, oooo! Yikes! Do you think that finding the skeleton in the closet is the first step to laying the bones to rest?

  3. January 31, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    Thanks for sharing these interesting videos. I would never have believed that there were actually people who believed that there were no more native Americans! I find it such a pity that native american culture couldn’t also be promoted as an essential part of the American heritage. The impression I get, although I don’t live in the US, is that people forget the costs that Europeans imposed on the native populations in order to create their “American dream”. Do they not teach any of the history of America before the arrival of European colonisers in schools?
    Excellent and very interesting post!

    • February 1, 2011 at 2:01 am

      Greetings Kai. To the point–answer to your question–No, as a general rule in mainstream schools they do not teach about the history of First Nations People as part of “American History”. When I was growing up there was scant mention of Native Americans in school textbooks. If interested one had to conduct a search for information on one’s own. Dee Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee seemed to open some doors for information about westward expansion’s cost for Indians. I think you have a point that most Americans are have little sense of living on land that their families emigrated to. It’s very ironic when considering the issues with so called “illegal immigrants”. In a certain sense, if one is not a full blooded Native American, then one is really an illegal immigrant in the states. It’s not like the Pilgrims were ‘invited’ to invade and spread.
      Online I was listening to Native America Calling today and the featured author of Saltypie, Tingle, related something that happens regularly when he visits schools. Some child will say someting to the effect of: “Why are you telling us about Indians when they’re all dead?” Yes, here in America. Today. Now.

  4. clegyrboia said,

    January 30, 2011 at 7:43 pm

    They are a part of the American history but not a part we often learn on school.

    • clegyrboia said,

      January 30, 2011 at 7:53 pm

      She says it well as many people make it these days a fairy-tale when they do talk about Native Americans.

      • January 31, 2011 at 12:35 am

        I take it that you mean the ‘romantized’ notion of the noble savage and such, mAgdA, instead of seeing them as flesh and blood real people?
        And the Disney version of Pochantas?
        Hello, how is your land enjoying its wild rebirthing?

    • January 31, 2011 at 12:31 am

      Yes, one has to learn outside of school on one’s own.

  5. Bodhirose said,

    January 29, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    So enjoyed meeting Joy Harjo–what a beautiful spirit. So sad to hear that people think no Native Americans exist. Our educational system (not to mention parents–our first teachers) needs to rectify this misconception. They’ve had to suffer through so much–let’s not add this to their burden.

    I remember growing up thinking my grandmother was Native American because she had two long braids on either side of her head that reached almost to the floor–she wore them coiled up on her head. I just knew she was an “Indian” and I was so proud of that. But, sadly, (for me) that wasn’t the case. But she sure looked the part.

    Gayle ~

    • January 31, 2011 at 12:29 am

      Gayle, what an interesting memory of your grandmother and her long braids! Oh to view everyone through the eyes of a child!
      I agree about our education system bearing much fault for how it manages to make nonwhites invisible. And there are people who are so insecure that they like it so. It’s hard for everyone to survive in this world no one needs to increase anyone’s burden—well, except for the bankers and wall street types who seem to enjoy making life tougher for everyone NOT them. LOL.

      • Bodhirose said,

        January 31, 2011 at 2:35 am

        Yes, that’s an interesting memory. My father said, no, she was not Native American–oh, well…

        I’m just amazed that this is even a subject being discussed. It had never crossed my mind that everyone doesn’t know that Native Americans are still very much alive in our society. And we could/should learn a lot from their culture that reveres the Earth and holding her sacred. Sadly, even these indigenous people are losing knowledge of their ways. We should look upon them with pride.

        Thanks Eva for your reply.

  6. jmjbookblog said,

    January 29, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    How sad that there are Americans who do not know about the Native American people. I was fortunate that I was raised by a father who had a special place in his heart for Native Americans. He passed that love along to his children and also a deep love for the Lily of the Mohawks, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha. I can’t imagine not knowing the history of a people who held Mother Earth in such high esteem that they were ecologists before the name even existed.

    • January 31, 2011 at 12:23 am

      Greetngs JmJ. Well our American education system complete with ‘textbooks’ bears much of the blame for the ignorance of many people. Sounds like you were blessed with a very kind father. Lucky you. Oh and your observation about ecologists before there was an English word for the concept is well noted. The first time I learned that the Navajo had names for a plant depending on its location, appearance, medicinal valure, etc I was amazed. What a wealth of knowledge to carry in one’s mind for everything in your world! Who can do that today?

  7. lesliepaints said,

    January 29, 2011 at 8:32 pm

    Thank-you for the poetry and continuing to post on the Native American people. As you know, our postings have caused me to read more and learn more about the history. Like other races of people, I find it sad that many with “rich heritage” end up not so rich by financial standards. Is it because they are conquered? To me, that is an interesting concept. The Native American was rich in this land before overtaken and I see that other races of people have met the same demise……….Just a thought.

    • lesliepaints said,

      January 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm

      Sorry, Eva. Type-o in second sentence should read “your posts” not our posts.

    • January 31, 2011 at 12:15 am

      Hello Leslie. I think what you’ve noted is a fundamental conflict of cultural VALUES–those that place a high priority on profit/personal gain/exploitation for the benefit of an elite few versus communities knowing that survival is dependent on the welfare of their living environtment–and awareness of the human place within the web of life. I agree–there are different kinds of ‘rich’–now, which will insure survival of the human species in the long run?
      Your thoughts are most WELCOME!

  8. Melissa said,

    January 29, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    How bizarre it seems to me that there are people out there who think there are no Native Americans. Can’t really get my head around that. As a kid, I was very annoyed with my forebears that (as far as they knew) we had no Native blood in our line. Dammit, I wanted to be Native American! I still am in awe of those who have retained their connection to the earth, their sense of place in this wild dance of life.

    • January 31, 2011 at 12:09 am

      It surprises me every time, Melissa. Some times more than others.
      We all have our connection to the earth–we just don’t respect, honor and cherish it. But that can change! We change redirect our awareness and values if we chose to do so.
      Hope you’re having luck promoting your book, Weathercock!

  9. slpmartin said,

    January 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Love her blend of words and music.:-)

  10. January 29, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I bought a few books on Native American history and culture that I’m slowly working my way through. I’m really amazed about how little I actually know about any of this stuff and it reinforces your point that Native Americans are so rarely in the media.

    Byt he way I’m still listening to the radio station you recommended. I like their books discussion programmes.

    • January 30, 2011 at 11:59 pm

      Hello Ashton. I hope you’re finding whatever you’re reading useful and interesting. Am curious about which books you selected to read and the why of your choices. Hope you can at least share a list when you have a chance.
      So you’re still giving KKFI a listen! Glad to hear it. Some of their best non-music programing is on in the wee hours of like 5 am CST. Art of the Song-creativity radio, Explorations, New Dimensions etc. Good to hear you’ve found interesing listening material. Thanks for exploring more than Rush and his friends. LOL.

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