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An Important Honor for Joy Harjo and “Living Nations, Living Words”

The following is a guest post by our colleague Rob Casper, Head of  Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress.

Two men and eight women stand on a stage.

2022 ATALM Guardians of Culture and Lifeways International Award honorees, including, Lori Pourier, representing the Library of Congress, next to former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (near center). Photo: Barbara Bair.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo continues to earn praise for her work in the position. On October 26th at its annual convention, the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries., and Museums (ATALM) presented one of its Guardians of Culture and Lifeways International Awards to the Library of Congress and Harjo for “Living Nations, Living Words,” her signature project as the nation’s first Native American poet laureate.

Harjo’s project was honored with the Outstanding Project/Non-Native Organization Award. In the award citation, ATALM said it “applauds Harjo’s work to illuminate the poetry of Native America and expresses its gratitude to the Library of Congress for a living tribute to a vibrant culture.”

Established in 2007, the Guardians of Culture and Lifeways International Awards program identifies and recognizes organizations and individuals that serve as outstanding examples of how Indigenous archives, libraries, museums, and individuals contribute to the vitality and cultural sovereignty of Native Nations. The award takes its name from the sculpture that stands atop the Capitol of Joy’s home state, Oklahoma.

Accepting the award alongside Harjo was Lori Pourier, president of the First Peoples Fund and member of the Board of Trustees for the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. Pourier (Oglala Lakota), an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, represented the Library at the ceremony and offered remarks on behalf of Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden.

“Living Nations, Living Words” features a sampling of work by 47 Native American poets through an interactive Story Map and a newly developed Library of Congress audio collection. Each location marker reveals a Native poet and features an image, biography and link to hear the poet recite and comment on an original poem.

“For my signature project as the 23rd Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, I conceived the idea of mapping the U.S. with Native Nations poets and poems,” said Harjo, an enrolled member of the Muscogee Nation. “I want this map to counter damaging false assumptions — that Indigenous peoples of our country are often invisible or are not seen as human. You will not find us fairly represented, if at all, in the cultural storytelling of America, and nearly nonexistent in the American book of poetry.”

Congratulations to Joy for this honor and thank you to the Association for shining a spotlight on it. And, really, hooray for all the people that “Living Nations, Living Words” will continue to reach, to inform and to inspire.

Homegrown Plus Premiere: Pamyua’s Modern Yup’ik Drumsongs

We’re excited to continue the Homegrown Plus Premiere series with Pamyua, a trio performing traditional Inuit (Yup’ik) drumsongs from Alaska with a distinct and unique American sound. As is usual for the series, this blog post includes an embedded concert video, an interview video, and a set of related links to explore! Together for more than 15 years, Pamyua (pronounced Bum yo-ah) has entertained millions with their fusion of traditional Inuit music and Yup’ik dance performance. Founding members Phillip Blanchett, Stephen Blanchett and Ossie Kairaiuak are from the Yukon/ Kuskokwim River Delta region in southwestern Alaska. Pamyua found national recognition in 2003, winning Record of the Year at the Native American Music Awards, and is now considered a cultural treasure across the circumpolar north. Native People magazine praised their “blizzard of interlocking harmonies” and Alaska magazine rated them “one of the 10 greatest Alaska artists of the millennium.” The group has performed at distinguished events worldwide, including the 25th Anniversary of Greenlandic home rule, which was attended by Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and the grand opening of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Homegrown Plus: PIQSIQ Inuit-Style Throat Singing

It’s been a while since we posted a Homegrown Plus post! In this ongoing series, we present Homegrown concerts that also had accompanying oral history interviews, placing both videos together in an easy-to-find blog post. We’re continuing the series with PIQSIQ, an Inuit style throat singing duo who characterize their style as being “galvanized by darkness and haunting northern beauty.”

PIQSIQ is composed of sisters Tiffany Kuliktana Ayalik and Kayley Inuksuk Mackay. These talented performers come together to create a unique duo, performing ancient traditional songs along with new compositions. The two grew up in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, with roots in Nunavut, Canada’s northernmost territory. After years of hard work on their music, they have developed their own form, blending haunting melodies and otherworldly sounds. As PIQSIQ, they perform their songs with live improvisational looping, creating a dynamic audience experience that changes with every show. In this blog, you’ll find their November 2020 concert and their February 2021 oral history interview.

Explore Native American Event Videos from the American Folklife Center

Native American events sponsored by the American Folklife Center have provided Indians and Native Alaskans opportunities to present performing arts and lectures at the Library of Congress to reach audiences with their cultural arts and inform people about their cultures, languages, and concerns such as preservation of their traditions. This blog will focus on the […]

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Great Plains

The following is a guest post by American Folklife Center head of reference, Judith Gray. Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, […]

Navigating AFC Collections Geographically: Pacific Region States

Staff at the American Folklife Center continue to use new digital tools to support remote discovery and access for our resources by users of all kinds. Whether you are a community scholar, a teacher, an academic researcher, a creative artist, or a curious consumer of local culture we hope that our geographically-oriented research guides offer […]

The Power of Words, the Power of Belonging: What the Navajo Code Talkers Taught Me

The following is a guest post by Nathan Cross, VHP Archivist and primary author of VHP’s Navajo Code Talkers LibGuide. The Veterans History Project (VHP) is pleased to announce a new resource designed to introduce VHP’s holdings related to the veterans known as Navajo Code Talkers. These veterans, Native Americans who served in the Pacific […]

VHP’s Newest Online Exhibit: Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Veterans

Today the Veterans History Project (VHP) launches a new online exhibit, part of our Experiencing War web feature series. Entitled “Legacies of Service: Celebrating Native Veterans,” the exhibit explores the lives and service experiences of 18 Native veterans who served in conflicts from World War II to Iraq and Afghanistan. Given the treatment of their […]

Harvey Pratt: Dreaming of a National Native American Veterans Memorial

The following is a guest blog post by liaison specialist Owen Rogers about the November 11, 2020 completion and programing surrounding the National Native American Veterans Memorial.  American Indians and Alaska Natives comprise less than 1% of the United States population. They boast a higher percentage of veterans than any other ethnicity and a tradition of […]