I just signed a contract with Tribal College Press (TCP) for the publication of a book of poetry titled, Meditation on the Ceremonies of Beginnings. In 1972 I graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh and found a teaching position at an alternative school, Menominee County Community School, which was one of the first seven school of the Indian controlled schools movement in this country. It was through my association with Helen Maynor Scheirbeck, the greatest American Indian leader in Indian education during my lifetime, that I found out about the tribal colleges.
When Dr. Verna Fowler asked me to help her found what became College of the Menominee Nation in 1993, I started writing poems about the tribal college movement and its founding. I have written a substantial number of poems over the decades, celebrating, mourning, living the tribal college dream of creating a new form of higher education driven by American Indian cultures and languages throughout the United States.
Most of the early poems were written during American Indian Higher Education conferences, or later, World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium conferences, in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, or Australia. I usually wrote them on scrap paper or napkins and then promptly gave them to whomever I was with at the time. Luckily for me, Marjane Ambler, then Editor of the Tribal College Journal, prevailed upon person after person to save them and send them to her. Later on, once a handful of the poems appeared in print, I stated saving them myself.
The poems tell a different kind of history about the tribal college and university and World Indigenous controlled institutions of higher education movements in the United States and worldwide. I am grateful that Bradley Shreve and Rachael Marchbanks at TCP unexpectedly offered to publish the book.
This has been quite a year! In the Unsettled Homeland of Dreams, my Washington Island historical novel about the black fisherman community that settled on the island before the passage of the Fugitive Slave Act that led to the Civil War, should be coming out in the near future. Now Meditation on the Ceremonies of Beginnings. I’m really going to have to do some marketing work. I hope some of you might consider buying either one or both works. I’ve certainly worked hard enough on both of them.