To recognize Native American Heritage Month, we are honored to share a treasured poem by one of my favorite poets and writers, Joy Harjo. Plus, we also share an interactive map of Indigenous Lands (credit to NPR).
In 2019, Joy Harjo was recognized as the United States poet laureate and served three terms. Harjo is an internationally renowned performer and writer of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.
She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is the author of nine books of poetry, including the highly acclaimed An American Sunrise, several plays and children’s books, and two memoirs, Crazy Brave and Poet Warrior. Her many honors include the Ruth Lily Prize for Lifetime Achievement from the Poetry Foundation, the Academy of American Poets Wallace Stevens Award, two NEA fellowships, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.
You can learn more about Joy Harjo on her webpage, www.joyharjo.com.
Remember the sky that you were born under,
know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
strongest point of time. Remember sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth, how your mother struggled
to give you form and breath. You are evidence of
her life, and her mother’s, and hers.
Remember your father. He is your life, also.
Remember the earth whose skin you are:
red earth, black earth, yellow earth, white earth
brown earth, we are earth.
Remember the plants, trees, animal life who all have their
tribes, their families, their histories, too. Talk to them,
listen to them. They are alive poems.
Remember the wind. Remember her voice. She knows the
origin of this universe.
Remember you are all people and all people
Remember you are this universe and this
universe is you.
Remember all is in motion, is growing, is you.
Remember language comes from this.
Remember the dance language is, that life is.
Indigenous Peoples’ Day is a time of reflection, recognition and celebration of the role Native people have played in U.S. history. One way to mark the day — and to learn about Indigenous history year-round — is to learn which Native lands you live on.