On May 24, 2014 more than a dozen Indigenous poets, storytellers, musicians and spoken word artists performed at an event entitled Our Land, Culture, Community: Story, Poetry, Song, Music, Rap for Liberation. The event was a benefit for the Indigenous Alliance Without Borders whose mission is to affirm the rights of indigenous peoples, their right to self determination, their collective human and civil rights, the rights of sovereignty and the protection of sacred sites, and the free unrestricted movement across international borders.
Today’s 30 Minutes includes continues with part 2 of a multi part series featuring host and organizer Simon J. Ortiz, an Indigenous poet and writer of Acoma Pueblo heritage who specializes in Indigenous Literature. He is a Regents Professor of English at Arizona State University and convened many of the artists and introduced the speakers.
We’ll hear from Bojan Louis who is a member of the Navajo Nation, a poet, fiction writer, and essayist who earns his ends and writing time by working as an electrician, construction worker, and adjunct English and Creative Writing Instructor at Arizona State University and various community colleges in the Phoenix metropolitan area.
Laura Tohe grew up near the Chuska Mountains on the eastern border of the Diné homeland. She currently lives in Mesa, Arizona. A poet, writer, and librettist, Tohe’s work has been published in the journals Ploughshares, New Letters, Red Ink, World Literature Today and many others.
Finally on 30 Minutes, we’ll go out with music by Klee Benally the lead vocalist and guitarist of Navajo punk rock band Blackfire. Benally is also an activist, artist, silversmith, and filmmaker. He also performs traditional Navajo dances and is a champion fancy war dancer. Klee Benally (Diné/Russian-Polish) was born in Tuba City on the Diné (Navajo) Nation and currently lives in Flagstaff, Arizona. He is originally from Black Mesa and has worked most of his life at the front lines in struggles to protect Indigenous sacred lands.
Recorded and produced by Amanda Shauger.