Launch of Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England

Here’s a photograph of all the native authors who attended the launch party for Dawnland Voices: An Anthology of Indigenous Writing from New England.  Hosted by the University of New Hampshire at Durham, I will say for myself that it was a splendid evening – an event I will always remember!  I finally got to meet Daniel N. Paul (third from left, seated) and Jaime Battiste, (first at left, standing).  We were the Mi’kmaw contingent out of ten other tribal voices.  It was so good to meet Cheryl Savageau (second in from the right seated), Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel, (far right, seated), Mihku Paul (7th from left in middle row – white shirt, long hair), Carol Bachnofner  (to the right of Mihku), Lisa Brooks (back row black & white blouse), and Jesse Bruchac (last to the right, back row).  Paula Peters (next to Jaime) has become my new friend.  I regretted that Steven Augustine, Marie Battiste, James Sakej Youngblood Henderson, Susanne Rancourt, Joe, Marge and Jim Bruchac, Trudie Lamb Richmond, Jayne Fawcett, and Robert Peters were not in attendance.  And I believe all the departed ones – Rita Joe, Lorne Simon, Sopiel Soctomah, Chief Francis Joseph Neptune, Tomah Joseph, Deacon Sockabasin, Joseph Stanislaus, Sopiel SElmore, Lewis Mitchell, Sylvia Gabriel, Peter Mitchell, Mary Ellen Stevens Socobasin, Joseph Nicolaaar, Molly Spotted Elk, Wowaus, Samson Occum and the others – rejoiced with us this past Saturday night, November 1, 2014.  We carry their words and add our own, all known to each other and all very much unvanished!

This anthology is available from the University of Nebraska Press.  Siobhan Senier is the editor and she had assistance from ten tribal editors in choosing the selections.  Bravo!  This is an historic work!  An historic occasion!

Photo by Katie Liljegren


Birthday Post – July 30, 2014

Today is my birthday, and I must say it has been a good year as far as getting my poetry published.  My newest chapbook, Worn Cities, attracted eighty pre-orders, enough for the publishers, Finishing Line Press, to proceed with a press run of 250 copies!  I am grateful to all my supporters who ordered copies, which will be shipped September 6th, 2014.

My poems have appeared in Cream City Review, About Place Journal,  and Yellow Medicine Review.   Of particular pleasure for me has been the release of Dawnland Voices (University of Nebraska Press), edited by Siobhan Senier.  It is an anthology of indigenous writing from New England tribal authors, including Mi’kmaw, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot, Abenaki, Nipmuc, Wampanoag, Mohegan, Narragansett and Schaghticoke people. Each of the tribal sections contains an introduction  by a tribal community editor that assisted Siobhan in collecting and choosing the pieces showcased.


Many of the authors I know personally or through correspondence.  Some I have showcased  on this site – Mihku Paul, Carol Bachofner, Cheryl Savageau and Siobhan Senier, the indefatigable editor!  In the Mi’kmaw section, I found myself loving Elsie Charles Basque’s story, “From Here to There,” where she recounts traveling alone with children from Saunierville, Nova Scotia to Willimantic, Connecticut, a place where my own mother had lived awhile.  There’s an excerpt of the late Lorne Simon’s wonderful novel, Stones and Switches.   James Sakej Youngblood, Jaime Battiste (father and son) outlined the basis of our Mi’kmaw treaties –underscored by an excellent essay by Grand Chief Donald Marshall Sr.,  Grand Captain Alexander Denny, and Putus (wisdom) Simon Marshall.

My entries included three poems – “Repatriation Soliloquy,” “Mi’kmaq Haiku,” and “Someday I Will Dance,” a personal favorite. Poems of the beloved poet, Rita Joe, are included and of course, Daniel Paul, our reknown activist, has an included section from his hard-hitting book, We Were Not the Savages.  As Joe Bruchac says, “…this is a brilliantly edited anthology.

If you want to order Dawnland Voices online, check out this link to learn more.

Even Dawnland Voices could not trump the best news of this birthday year: I found out the name of my biological fourth great grandmother–the one of whom I wrote in my May 7, 2013 post, listed below in the archives of this website.  Her name was (is) Marie LeBlanc Mius.  She had twin daughters, Marguerite and Madeleine Magdalene, born Mius – but taken in by another family, the Babin’s.  Marguerite became my third great grandmother.  There’s a story behind this “adoption,” believe me – but it’s for another time.  A cousin whom I found through autosomal DNA testing, Edward Cyr, helped me find her. I will never forget the enormous burden of obsession that rolled off my shoulders when Ed said, “You’ve found Her! You’ve found your grandmother.”  Not many people can boast of two family trees – double sets of relatives on down to the pre-colonial period of Nova Scotia.  I am thankful. In a future post, I will share a poem I wrote for Grandmother Marie.

Siobhan Senier’s Essay in MELUS

What is striking in Azure’s work is her emphasis on travel, especially around ceremony and among urban areas where other Native people reside. Her peripatetic life directly informs the poetic hubs of her chapbook, In Mi’kmaq Country. The first piece, “Someday I Will Dance,” acts like a hub anchoring her many locations and affiliations. It sets its speaker in an unnamed but distinctly urban, Midwestern space described as “This world of asphalt grids” (18). From that vantage point, she catches a glimpse of colorful fall foliage, which gives her occasion to travel imaginatively across space and time, to join “the People” in a dance (25-26). She pictures them in a quatrain that begins in the Midwest and travels back to Mi’kmaq homeland:

Do they dance at old Saukenuk,
At the capes of North and Blomidon?
Do their voices rise above Katahdin,
Around the harvests of Gaspe? (10-13)

Saukenuk, once the principal village of the Sauk nation, is now an Illinois State Park. It purportedly pays homage to Black Hawk, one of many Native leaders who have been re-appropriated for American mythologies: a brave hero who ultimately and inevitably lost his fight with settlers, thus ushering in colonial progress and ushering out the vanishing race. A visit to this kind of site is one of Azure’s signature poetic gestures. Her latest book, Games of Transformation, is a reflection on the Cahokia Mounds, also in present-day Illinois.11 There, as in her reimagination of Saukenuk, she subverts the US national imaginary by calling into being a Native community and a Native future.

The next three lines (tracing capes North and Blomidon, Mount Katahdin, and the Gaspe peninsula) triangulate Mi’kmaq aboriginal territory, doubling back and forth across the international line as though the speaker is exercising her rights under the 1794 Jay Treaty. Azure moves from Cape North on the northeast portion of Cape Breton Island (allegedly the first point of land John Cabot saw) to Cape Blomidon on the northern side of the Nova Scotia in the Bay of Fundy, over to Mount Katahdin in the interior of Maine, and up to the Gaspe peninsula of Quebec, the northernmost part of Mi’kmaq territory. She repatriates herself by covering places with significance in traditional histories of the Wabanaki hero Glooscap—Blomidon was once called “Glooscapweek,” or “home of Glooscap” (Hornborg 86). She traces an international, cosmopolitan trajectory, moving among Native communities constituted before the currentframework of nation-states and still understood outside that framework. (excerpted from pages 25-27)

For the entire essay, go to Senier37.1

Front Cover Art courtesy of MELUS, where it first appeared ( Vol issue 2012). All Nations Seek Peace. 2012. By Mihku Paul. Aquarelle, watercolor, and ink. Copyright Mihku Paul. Reproduced with permission of the artist. Cover Design: Phil Wolfe Graphic Design, Reproduced with permission of MELUS.