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  Heid Erdrich
Heid Erdrich
Heid E. Erdrich writes, teaches, and collaborates with other artists across genres. She grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota, and is Ojibwe, enrolled at Turtle Mountain. She is the author of four poetry collections, most recently Cell Traffic: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2012). Erdrich won a Minnesota Book Award for National Monuments in 2009, and she is a 2013 Artist of the Year honoree from City Pages Minneapolis. Additionally, she has received awards from The Loft Literary Center, the Archibald Bush Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and First People's Fund, among other honors. Since 2007, Erdrich has worked with American Indian visual artists as an arts advocate and a curator. In 2010 she founded Wiigwaas Press to publish Ojibwe language books. Heid's newest book Original Local: Indigenous Foods Stories and Recipes from the Upper Midwest (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013) is selling like Grandma Gourneau's Corn Cakes!

This event is part of the American Indian Sovereignty and Resource Management Conference through the American Indian Studies program at UWM.

The Theft Outright



Heid Erdrich
After Frost

We were the land's before we were.

Or the land was ours before you were a land.
Or this land was our land, it was not your land.

We were the land before we were people,
loamy roamers rising, so the stories go,
or formed of clay, spit into with breath reeking soul—

What's America, but the legend of Rock 'n' Roll?

Red rocks, blood clots bearing boys, blood sands
swimming being from women's hands, we originate,
originally, spontaneous as hemorrhage.

Un-possessing of what we still are possessed by,
possessed by what we now no more possess.

We were the land before we were people,
dreamy sunbeams where sun don't shine, so the stories go,
or pulled up a hole, clawing past ants and roots—

Dineh in documentaries scoff DNA evidence off.
They landed late, but canyons spoke them home.
Nomadic Turkish horse tribes they don't know.

What's America, but the legend of Stop 'n' Go?

Could be cousins, left on the land bridge,
contrary to popular belief, that was a two-way toll.
In any case we'd claim them, give them someplace to stay.

Such as we were we gave most things outright
(the deed of the theft was many deeds and leases and claim stakes
and tenure disputes and moved plat markers stolen still today...)

We were the land before we were a people,
earthdivers, her darling mudpuppies, so the stories go,
or emerging, fully formed from flesh of earth—

The land, not the least vaguely, realizing in all four directions,
still storied, art-filled, fully enhanced.
Such as she is, such as she wills us to become


from National Monuments


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