Tiffany Midge "Outlaws, Renegades and Saints"

Being a mixed-blood is no easy road, and Tiffany Midge makes her art from the collision of irreconcilables. The writing is sometimes funny and heart stopping at the same time: “It’s my birthday. I ask my mother, ‘when I grow up will I be a full-blooded Indian?’” Midge’s poetry is informed by an in-your-face refusal either to romanticize her life, or to accept the place that has been “assigned” to Indian peoples: to accept extinction: “listen/can you hear the dead talking?/They are saving and resurrecting us all.” ~ from Oyate

At the Oil Celebration Powwow

i.

At the oil celebration powwow give-
aways are the gift that keeps on giving.
The Indians true to their traditions continue
to give what the whites have taken from them—

ii.

food when they were starving
blankets when they were freezing
clothing when they were naked

iii.

Ethel Iron Thunder gives a Pendleton wrap to Minnie Spotted Elk/
Minnie Spotted Elk gives a star quilt to Silas Tail Spins/
Silas Tail Spins gives 20 lbs of frozen venison to Victoria Walking Child/
Victoria Walking Child gives a case of chokecherry preserves to John &; Myra Two Feathers/
John & Myra Two Feathers gives Cain Long Bow $100 towards his college tuition/
Cain Long Bow gives Alice Brought Plenty 10 yards of bargain basement fabric/
Alice Brought Plenty gives Ruby Savior a plastic bag of accumulated Copenhagen chew-top-lids/
Ruby Savior gives Mary & Victor Red Wing a beaded cradleboard for their new arrival /
Mary & Victor Red Wing gives Scarlet Comes At Night their family’s secret frybread recipe/
Scarlet Comes At Night gives Ethel Iron Thunder insulated rabbit fur slippers and matching blue mittens and scarf.

iv.

Define Indian giver in 10 words or less:
All of the above.

v.

Grandma Iron Thunder tells me
that Giveaways are to Indians
what Christmas is to white people.
~Tiffany Midge "Outlaws, Renegades and Saints"


Copyright © Tiffany Midge. All rights reserved.

First published at breakfastattiphanys.blogspot.com

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tiffany Midge is the recipient of the Kenyon Review Earthworks Prize for Indigenous Poetry for “The Woman Who Married a Bear” (forthcoming) and the Diane Decorah Memorial Poetry Award for “Outlaws, Renegades and Saints; Diary of a Mixed-up Halfbreed” (Greenfield Review Press).  Her work has appeared in North American Review, The Raven Chronicles, Florida Review, South Dakota Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest and the online journals No Tell Motel and Drunken Boat.  An enrolled Standing Rock Sioux, she holds an MFA from University of Idaho and lives in Moscow, Idaho (Nez Perce country).

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Look behind you. See your sons and your daughters. They are your future. Look farther, and see your sons’ and your daughters’ children, and their childrens’children, even unto the Seventh Generation. That’s the way we were taught.


—Leon Shenandoah (1915-1996) Leader of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy