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Ever since A&E announced that it was dropping its cowboy crime drama (the audience was too skewed towards older folks, bad for advertisers, they said) Longmire fans have been lighting up twitter with the #LongLiveLongmire campaign in hopes of attracting a new home for the program.

Based on Craig Johnson’s popular mystery novels, the show is one of few on television that not only features Native American faces, but gives the actors juicy roles. And with the advice of consultant Marcus Red Thunder, close friend of Johnson’s and the inspiration for the fictional Henry Standing Bear character, the program has plowed forward with some hot-button Native American issues, and done so in style.

Besides its regular Native talent ( I see you drooling over Zahn McClarnon’s long, gorgeous hair) there is a host of smaller roles that have seen the likes of Native Americans David Midthunder, Irene Bedard, Nathaniel Arcand, Gary Farmer and Kimberley Guerrero, for starters.

With networks clamoring for diversity, why hasn’t this perfect storm been picked up already?? I mean, this is the total package, people!!  Great writing, a whole crop of Bad NDN’s, and a stellar group of non-Native actors (one of which is a SciFy phenom). Not to mention 6 million fans captured and held in the SUMMER, when viewing drops in the face of other distractions.

We need more stories and poems and shows that bring us all the beauty of our many tribal nations, not less.

And speaking of poetry, I first wanted to share this quote from activist/poet/social commentator June Jordan, in which she urges us to understand that:

Poetry means taking control of the language of your life

and exploring it without bounds to its very limits.

And so, in that vein, let’s explore some of the voices from Indian Country, who are doing just that. Here is Ryan Red Corn‘s ” Bad Indians“:

For more on the text and its many allusions, see this writeup on the poem as part of an aboriginal studies curriculum.


Next up is Deborah Miranda‘s moving “I Am Not a Witness”, which begins:

I found Coyote, Eagle, and Momoy
in a book, but cannot read
the Chumash words. I found
photographs of bedrock slabs pocked by
hundreds of acorn-grinding holes,
but the holes are empty, the stoneindiancart
pestles that would curve to my grip
lie dead behind museum glass.
Mountains and rivers and oaks rise
in Spanish accents: San Gabriel,
Santa Ynez, Robles.
These are not real names.
Some of our bones rest in 4000 graves
out back behind the Mission.
Some of our bones are mixed into…


From Indian Cartography (Greenfield Review Press)