American Indians

Gov. Bullock was joined by tribal leaders from across Montana as he signed an executive order creating a state office of American Indian Health.
Courtesy Office of the Governor

The lifespan of Montana’s Native Americans is twenty years shorter, on average, than others in the state.  Montana Governor Steve Bullock is launching an effort to close that gap by finding and fixing the shortcomings of the health care system for the state’s Indian population.

Restored From Ashes: John Mix Stanley's West

May 31, 2015

Before 1850, paintings and the first black and white photographs provided the sole source of visual imagery of the West to Americans. Among the most remarkable of the explorer-painters employed by government expeditions and railway surveys was John Mix Stanley, whose wanderlust and technical prowess as a draftsman and portrait painter - as well as timing - put him in a position to paint American Indians just as their traditional ways of life had begun to collide with westward American expansion.

During this program, four Montana Indian authors talk about their stories published in Off the Path: An Anthology of 21st Century Montana American Indian Writers, Vol. I.

Sherman Alexie is not the only American Indian writer. Nor does the experience of one Indian represent the experiences of all Natives living in urban areas and reservations across the U.S.

That point of view, plus insights into American Indian culture and tribal differences, is part of the discussion during this program.

"Life"

Oct 27, 2014

To maintain balance of the soul
Is our ultimate goal
For death and life are foe
But yet together stroll
Between the stars and the grasses
As crescent moons come and go
With each winter of snow
May you walk in beauty.

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"Pow-wow Fever"

Jun 23, 2014

In a few days it strikes
Everyone in Indian Country,
Be Canada or wherever.

Drums vibrating,
The high pitched tones carry a chant.

Laughter of children,
Whispering of lovers,
Not too old or young to join.
Tipis, tents, campers and trailers
Stand symbolic as the sun sets.

The night carries many songs:
Contests, 49's, doorway songs and
owl songs,
"I will take you home,
in my one-eyed Ford!"

During this program, Minerva Allen talks about her role as a guardian of tribal culture. She also reads from her collection of poetry, Nakoda Sky People, and from Stories from the Elders: Nakoda Horse Society.

"A Tribute to Chief Joseph (1840?—1904)

May 12, 2014
Duane Niatum
Klallam Tribe, Native American, poet

"God made me an Indian, but not a reservation Indian."  —Sitting Bull

Hin-Mah-Too-Yah-Lat-Ket: Thunder-rolling-in-the-mountains,
never reached with his people,
the Wal-lam-wat-kins, Canada's promised land.
Instead, the fugitive chief sits in a corner of the prison car
clicking its way to Oklahoma.
Chained to his warriors, he is like a featherless eagle
forced to look at a sky colorless as a square.

Evening Primrose

Apr 18, 2014

4/19/14: This week on "The Plant Detective:"  There's an important acid in the seeds of evening primrose: gamma linolenic acid, or GLA, which is an essential fatty acid. From EFAs, our bodies manufacture chemicals responsible for many basic functions, and EFA deficiency may contribute to arthritic inflammation, menstrual problems, eczema, and more.

Flood Song

Apr 14, 2014

He wanted to hold back gas-soaked doves with a questioning glance;
he wanted the clock to tick, downwind from this gavel and pew,
from this leash, bucket, drainpipe, and mildewed cracker,
from the mind's muddy swan served on a platter with lemon rids,
from spiders scurrying over its bone-polished surface,
from crosshatches punched into its shredded time card,
from the desert near the tree line where the molting must have begun,
where crushed bodies heave warm, jellylife,
in the thicket at the foot of the wandering,

During this program Julie Cajune — an American Indian storyteller, educator, and actress — talks about writing the stories in her one-woman play titled “Belief.” She also describes the process of collaborating with writer and poet Jennifer Finley and stage director Linda Grinde

"Belief" is a multidimensional performance, a unique mixture of interconnected Salish women’s stories, poetry, and live music.

The music in this program was written and performed by John Floridis.

"Children of Snow"

Feb 3, 2014

                                       for my Children

I try to stay snow that my children wish
would come hard in Missoula, come hard
in me. There is fun in me like children
of fox and geese, sleds without tracks,
without worry. Yet this winter weighs heavy
as wet snow as I visit Welch and ramble
wishing for right time for ripe snow.

Sing a song for all children
who know that snow is holy,
falls holy on us, we, who should rejoice
in this time of work, of play, of holy
laughter that rings at crisp stars.

San Francisco Bay-area photographer Sue Reynolds and American Indian poet Victor Charlo talk about their book, Still Here: Not Living in Tipis.

In this first collaborative photo-poetry book between a white urban photographer and a reservation Indian, Sue Reynolds' images and Salish poet Victor Charlo's poems tell a story of resurrection in the face of long odds. The book includes forty-five color photos and five Salish poems. A percentage of sales goes to American Indian College Fund.

"Dreaming Winter"

Jan 20, 2014

Don't ask me if these knives are real.
I could paint a king or show a map
the way home—to go like this:
Wobble me back to a tiger's dream
a dream of knives and bones too common
to be exposed. My secrets are ignored.

Here comes the man I love. His coat is wet
and his face is falling like the leaves,
tobacco stains on his Polish teeth.
I could tell jokes about him—one up
for the man who brags a lot, laughs
a little and hangs his name on the nearest knob.
Don't ask me. I know it's only hunger.

Andrew R. Graybill talks about and reads from The Red and The White: A Family Saga of the American West, in which he writes about Malcolm Clarke and the Blackfoot Nation of Montana.

About the book:

For the last several years, Robert Stubblefield has invited me to talk about The Write Question with students in one of the classes he teaches at the University of Montana. We talk about specific programs, which, if students have done their homework assignments, they've listened to. Then I answer questions about the process of reading, interviewing, and creating programs for radio and the Web.

Henry Real Bird talks about Crow Indian culture and reads poems from his new collection, Wolf Teeth. He also sings a poem.

About Henry Real Bird's poetry:

"River"

Oct 28, 2013

Do not murder the man whose
grandfather stole land from
your grandfather. Do not make
your grandchildren, who will
love you no matter what, decide
whether or not to tell the truth or
live like hollow stems.

Don't let rage become a flash
flood, or a lightning bolt that
strikes you again and again.

Would you save every tissue you
blew snot into? No, we cannot
save everything.

Maybe we can't save anything
or anybody except ourselves.

"Magic Fox"

Oct 7, 2013

They shook the green leaves down,
those men that rattled
in their sleep. Truth became
a nightmare to their fox.
He turned their horses into fish,
or was it horses strung
like fish, or fish like fish
hung naked in the wind?

Stars fell upon their catch.
A girl, not yet twenty-four
but blonde as morning birds, began
a dance that drew the men in
green around her skirts.
In dust her magic jangled memories
of dawn, till fox and grief
turned nightmare in their sleep.

"Sometimes Odowan"

Sep 23, 2013
Dragonfly Weather, poems by Lois Red Elk
Lost Horse Press

Sometimes when I sleep,
I hear buffalo coming,
Sometimes when I sleep,
Tatanka sings me songs.
Hey yo hey yaaaaah.

Sometimes when I dream,
I see dragonflies flying.
Sometimes when I dream,
Tusweca sings me songs.
Hey ya hey yaaaah.

Sometimes when I wake,
I feel the earth moving.
Sometimes when I wake,
Maka Unci sings me songs.
Hey ya hey yaaaaah.

How to Write the Great American Indian Novel

Sep 9, 2013

All of the Indians must have tragic features: tragic noses, eyes, and arms.
Their hands and fingers must be tragic when they reach for tragic food.

The hero must be a half-breed, half white and half Indian, preferably
from a horse culture. He should often weep alone. That is mandatory.

If the hero is an Indian woman, she is beautiful. She must be slender
and in love with a white man. But if she loves an Indian man

then he must be a half-breed, preferably from a horse culture.

During this program, Shoshone-Bannock author Mark Trahant talks about and reads from his book The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars: Henry M. Jackson, Forrest J. Gerard and the campaign for the self-determination of America’s Indian Tribes. He also explains the difference between American Indians and Alaska Natives, and the relationship of sovereign tribal governments with the U.S. government.