It is often said that in order to move forward effectively and for society to truly progress, we must first understand history. In the United States, there has been slow progress to fully understand and reconcile with our history of racial injustice, slavery, genocide, colonialism toward Black and Indigenous peoples, and how these atrocities are still seen in our modern systems in various ways. Now with social media, news, documentaries, literature, music and art available at our fingertips, there are more resources than ever enabling us to educate ourselves and become better allies.
A new anthology book released on October 5 through rENEGADE pLANETS pUBLISHING is a powerful place to start, as it is a celebration of Indigenous voices and artists looking at history and modern day activism.
“Power Of The Storm: Indigenous Voices, Visions and Determinations” was compiled and edited by MariJo Moore, founder of rENEGADE pLANETS pUBLISHING, and is dedicated to John Trudell. It is available on Amazon worldwide.
It features sixty-five contributors (from various Indigenous Nations) who share their creations in order to educate those who are interested in the history and modern day activism of the Indigenous People of North America. Some of the contributors have been writing and producing art for several years, whereas about 25% – the youngest of whom is nine years old – are making a publishing debut.
By being included in this groundbreaking anthology, all contributors are offered encouragement to keep expressing themselves to keep their cultures alive, as well as write from their own perspective instead of being “written about.” To remind the world that Indigenous voices, visions, and determination do indeed matter.
As one of the contributors explains in a press release, “For many people, especially those of us touched, inspired, and influenced over the course of our lives through the bravery, music, and words of John Trudell (Lakota, 1946-2015) the surrender of our voices nor our Indigenous world view, which we sometimes still have to fight with every cell of our beings to keep alive, is not an option.”
MariJo Moore (Cherokee) is the author of over 20 books, including several anthologies of Indigenous authors. She often gives those who have never been published the opportunity to share their voices, as in anthologies like this one. We spoke with her about “Power of the Storm” to learn more about the message behind it, and how readers can learn more about Indigenous Voices and activism.
How did the idea for Power of the Storm come about?
In early 2019, I dreamed of the idea of this book. Hence the beginning of my Introduction – “A dream can be so timely it can tattoo souls.” I immediately began a labor of love laced with hardships, tears and joy, and my deep intuition led the way. I did not put out a “call for submissions,” instead I contacted those whom I knew had something to share, and gave several who had not been published the opportunity to share their experiences and creativity. After a long arduous journey, the book was released in October 2020.
You assembled a multi-generational group of contributors, including some as young as 9! Can you tell me about the decision to include young voices in this book?
As an Elder, I believe that it is my responsibility to encourage and inspire our youth by giving them a platform to share. My oldest granddaughter has a poem included in which she shares her tearful reaction concerning sitting in a classroom where her non-Indigenous teacher tries to explain the history of Indigenous Peoples.
No matter the age, we all have the right to our viewpoints. To think of Indigenous People is to ponder a miracle, considering all that we have been through and continue to go through. But there are reasons we are still here, why babies are being born everyday, why our Spiritual Ancestors stay close. One of the various reasons is that we hold in our souls the knowledge that we are caretakers of this Earth and the future of our descendants. Our descendants need to know what we know and that we care about their ability to create.
For those who are not familiar with John Trudell, what should readers know about him and why you dedicated this book to him?
This anthology is dedicated to John Trudell, author, poet, actor, musician, and activist (1946-2015). John was always very kind to me and I appreciated all of his hard work. He was a man of unwavering enthusiasm and courage who touched, and continues to touch, the lives of so many with his didactic words. Telling us we have within ourselves the emotional, cultural, and social courageousness to look beyond what we have been taught to believe, what our ancestors were forced to believe – all the untruths – and inspiring us to think for ourselves, to honor our cultures and to speak up when necessary.
You own a publishing house in North Carolina, and you’ve written numerous books about Indigenous writers. Why is it important to you to share Indigenous voices and stories?
I started rENEGADE pLANETS pUBLISHING years ago when I became disillusioned with how others were publishing my work. This was almost 25 years before digital printing was available. At first, I only published my own work from an American Indian woman’s point of view. Then I was asked by larger publishers to edit anthologies, some of which I was pleased with the outcome, and some I was not. In 2005, when my mentor, Vine Deloria, Jr passed to Spirit, I wanted to show honor and gratitude by dedicating an anthology to him – “Unraveling the Spreading Cloth of Time – Indigenous Thoughts Concerning the Universe”.
I published this anthology through my company as I did not want it to be “whitewashed” in any manner, and I wanted to be able to choose who would be included. I feel that many Indigenous People who are talented and have much information and experience to share are often overlooked by the mainstream media and academic publishers. This new anthology, “Power of the Storm- Indigenous Voices, Visions, and Determination”, is not an academic book. It is a book by the People for the People. There are 65 contributors from various Nations, and the book is in full color to show the true artistic beauty.
We have seen more attention by mainstream media on issues such as the Dakota Access pipeline, missing and murdered indigenous women, and the history of forced sterilizations among Native women. What do you hope readers of this new anthology will learn about the history of activism among Indigenous communities in the US?
Activism is a multilayered, multifaceted word, which is defined differently and eloquently in this anthology. As one young Lakota poet stated when I asked him to submit, “Being a Native in this country today makes one an instant activist – well, for those who choose to be.” Activism is doing what one is not only called to do, but what one knows one must.
Be what it may, we are all taking action of some sort as we care about what this Earth holds for generations to come. Many are offering soft spoken prayers, others are on the front lines, some are warriors with words, paint, clay, glass, cameras, or music. Some are being published in this anthology for the first time, and some have been making their presence known for years, such as Suzan Shown Harjo, Tantoo Cardinal, and Isaac Murdoch. Even before the media was giving attention to our struggles and accomplishments, we have been active in countless ways by maintaining who we are.
I have received emails from non-Indigenous readers who have stated that the book gives a deeper understanding of what Indigenous People feel and experience; that it makes them rethink what they thought they knew or had read in history books. One also attested, “It’s like a condensed history of the American Indian Movement told both on an intellectual and a visceral level.”
Can you talk more about the need for Indigenous people to write, rather then be “written about”, as you share in your press release?
It is up to us to write our truths-to share what we believe and how we view ourselves and relation to this Earth. We have been written about for many years and some, if not most, of this information was not correct. Even books published today by non-Indians do not really cover the gist of who we are as Indigenous Peoples of various Nations. Few books and articles written by outsiders cannot convey our truths and accomplishments as we can, even if they do offer some interesting information. Of course, there is a certain sacred knowledge from all Nations which should never be written down and only passed on orally to those who are capable of responsibility.
What message do you hope readers will take away from “Power of the Storm”?
This anthology will speak to all in some manner and reveal that we are still here; that we have an unwavering faith and love for this Earth and Her future. We respect natural laws as we have been taught by our ancestors and continue to teach our descendants. It is my hope that when one holds this book, when one reads it aloud, when one lets these voices, visions, and determination touch the deepest part of one’s soul, people will understand why this book is so important during this time in history. That we are ALL in this together, regardless of race or belief systems.
This anthology offers proof that we are still learning and putting to practice what John Trudell often reminded us: We are all human beings. “Every human being is a raindrop. And when enough of the raindrops become clear and coherent they then become the power of the storm.”
It is my hope that the power of the storm contained in this anthology will cause an awakening in others, and they will create their own storms, and on and on…
You can purchase a copy of “Power of the Storm” on Amazon.