A Community of Voices

At River, Blood, And Corn, we are promoting community and strengthening cultures with storytelling, poetry and prose. Established in 2010 by Native writers, our starting point and our goal, is to honor the work and lifeways of Lee Francis III, Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers, to ensure the voices of Native writers and storytellers are heard throughout the world. 

While our primary focus is Indigenous writers, we have woven writers and artists from a variety of ethnicities and communities into our pages. Perhaps people of many ethnicities, including recent immigrants from throughout the Americas as well as other parts of the world will find something in this collection that will speak to them with respect to issues of race, identity, culture, community, and representation. 
 
Thank you to our readers. We are honored and grateful to each one of you.

Children of the Dragonfly: Native American Voices on Child Custody and Education

By Robert Bensen 
 
The recent discoveries of over 1,000 Indigenous children’s graves near boarding and residential schools are the latest developments in the story of assimilative, arguably genocidal education in the U.S. and Canada. In poetry, fiction, and memoir, the boarding school experience is represented in Children of the Dragonfly, the first anthology of Indian literature devoted to Indian child education and welfare. The anthology also includes literature on adoption and foster care, when some 35 percent of Indian children were raised in non-Indian settings during the Sixties Scoop in Canada and the U.S. crisis that led to passage of the Indian Child Welfare Act of 1978. Dragonfly is an ancient spirit in the Zuni story that saves two abandoned children and restores them to their people. That spirit is infused in the literature collected in Children of the Dragonfly.
 
Boarding schools were created to assimilate Indian children to the white world, which required the loss of cultural traditions. The literature tells us, however, that children kept their stories and practices as much as they could. U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo’s “The Woman Who Fell from the Sky” (1994) retells the ancient creation story in the story of Johnny and Lila. Together they endured the rigors and privations of boarding school, but afterward went their separate ways. Johnny joined the army. Lila worked at Dairy Queen and cleaned houses until she entered the story that had been her refuge at school. She married one of the stars and lived in the Sky World, where she was sure “she could find love in a place that did not know the disturbance of death.”

The University of Arizona Press

Yellow Medicine Review

Indigenous writers, young, old, established, emerging, traditional, urban, two spirt, academic, incarcerated, are brought together in the Spring 2021 issue of Yellow Medicine Review. 

We are sharing our voices, our best words, the thing we do in our community.

The Spring 2021 issue includes work by Judi Armbruster, Celia Bland, Linda Boyden, Vivian Mary Carroll, Carla Crujido, Jeffery U. Darensbourg, Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees, Stacie Denetsosie, Zoe Antoinette Eddy, Ines, Hernandez-Avila, Chelsea T. Hicks, Geary Hobson, Kylie Gemmel, Elaine Gerard, Vincent F. A. Golphin, Lea Graham, Gabor G. Gyukics, Stephen Graham Jones, Denise K. Lajimodiere, Randi LeClair, Tonya Holy Elk Locklear, Maiah A. Merino, Tiffany Midge, Devon A. Mihesuah, Ellie Mitchell, Ruby Hansen Murray, Shaina A. Nez, Gus Palmer, Jr., Shantell Powell, Ron Riekki, Ralph Salisbury, Tom Tovar, Terra Trevor, Arianne True, Jay Hansford C. Vest, Richard Arlin Walker, and Kaana Watchman. 

Cover art by Aakatchaq Schaeffer.

The Race Card

by Dawn Downey 
 
I wait for my husband, Ben, to join me inside the hardware store. Because hardware nerds munch while browsing, I grab myself a bag of Cheetos off the junk food shelf. The cashier is engrossed in a magazine, but sees me through the eyes in the back of his head. He scans the bag and turns the page simultaneously. “Dollar seventy-three,” he says to his magazine, then shoves the cash into the drawer. “Want your receipt?” he asks the cash register. 
 
On behalf of the register, I say, “No thanks.” 
 
Lousy service will not be allowed to ruin my Tuesday with Ben. When he comes in, we meander to housewares, on the hunt for picture hooks. No hooks in sight, but they do have a spiffy pop-open laundry hamper, which I snatch up. 
 
We examine a red wagon and some bicycle tires. Total browsing satisfaction awaits over in automotive, plumbing, and possibly electrical supplies. Nothing beats a Cheeto-crunching tour of electrical-- 
 
A sales associate is creeping toward us. Half a mile away, he hesitates. “Hello?” 
 
The same greeting had frequently floated my way across a tony department store. "Hello?" The unspoken questions trailing like cigar smoke: Are you lost? May I direct you back to the ghetto? 

Ben says, “Hi, we’re looking for hooks.” 
 

Dawn Downey writes essays about her journey through everyday life. She is the author of Blindsided: Essays from the Only Black Woman in the Room, Searching for My Heart, From Dawn to Daylight, and Stumbling Toward the Buddha. 
Visit Dawn at dawndowneyblog.com

Race, Ethnicity and My Face

by Terra Trevor

As a woman of Cherokee, Lenape, Seneca, German ancestry, I came of age understanding that I'm not totally white nor am I totally Native. I'm a border woman dwelling between the boundaries. 

I have light skin, light enough that some people think I’m totally white. My dad, a Native man, and my mother, a white woman, had me when they were teenagers. We lived in a mixed-race community in Los Angeles throughout the 1950s and 60s. The family next door was Bolivian and they loved me like a daughter. My best friend was Japanese and Mexican. Still, when I was 10 years-old, my dad sat me down to have “the talk” with me about race. He told me about how to navigate the streets, about how to stay safe. He wanted to make sure I understood that in order to be accepted by certain white people it mattered who your friends were. By that point, however, I already knew. 
 
I had discovered that when I went to play at the houses of my white friends after school I needed to be aware of how I was holding myself at all times. I learned to stay alert and watch for clues: sometimes there might be an older brother who pulled his eyes in an upward slant and said something mean about Chinese people; or a father that casually spouted racial slurs at people of color. When this happened, I knew I had to make an excuse to go home and I’d never go back. 


Terra Trevor is a contributor to 15 books, the author of two memoirs, and more than 1000 essays and articles. Her stories illuminate our humanity, remind us to be open, to connect, to hope, to question, or bring change. terratrevorauthor.com

Home Rocks

by Kim Shuck

This morning I hear the singing 
One mountain to another 
Across valley and piped creek 
Rock 
Tumbling in culvert 
Translating water into 
Serpentine thoughts 
When they moved the star map 
I could hear her singing 
Can hear her singing now 
Can hear her learning 
Granite story 
Heat and cooling 
We are all stories in series 
The water we are 
The water that has carried us 
Has carried stone 
Has cracked a surface has 
Sung through the culverts 
Another kind of mapping of 
Writing 
A travel story a 
Song of staying and of 
Shifting 
A song called across this valley from this mountain to another 
A scatter 
A collection 
I found a scrap of you 
Wrenched from your hill 
Mounted on a museum wall 
We sang quiet songs to one other 
All afternoon 
Dissident rocks that we are 
Just today I could hear our home hills 
The waters that polished us 
Humming an answer

Copyright Kim Shuck. All rights reserved.

Kim Shuck, a native of San Francisco whose work explores her multiethnic roots, is San Francisco’s seventh poet laureate. 

A lifelong resident of San Francisco, Shuck lives in the Castro district. Her poetry collections include Clouds Running InRabbit Stories, Smuggling Cherokee and Deer Trails. Shuck also teaches at the California College of Art, in the diversity department, and has taught at San Francisco State University. She has volunteered in San Francisco Unified School District classrooms for two decades. www.kimshuck.com

Yellow Medicine Review

"Women's Wisdom, Women's Strength" Issue. Guest edited by CMarie Fuhrman. 
Cover art: MAESTRAPEACE, detail of the Healing Panel, mural on The San Francisco Women's Building, 18th and Valencia Streets, by Juana Alicia, Miranda Bergman, Edythe Boone, Susan Cervantes, Meera Desai, Yvonne Littleton and Irene Perez. 
 
Contributors include Julian Ankney, Tacey M. Atsitty, Dawn Pichon Barron, Esther G. Belin, Kimberly Blaeser, Linda Boyden, Dr. Deidra Suwanee Dees, Marisa Duarte, Zoe Antoinette Eddy, Sarah Christine Hennessey, Lance Henson, Ines Hernandez-Avila, Boderra Joe, Bryan Kamaoli Kuwada, Manny Loley, Amber McCrary, Ruby Hansen Murray, Elise Paschen, Beth Piatote, Ursula Pike, Vivian Faith Prescott, Suzanne Rancourt, Marcie Rendon, C.R. Resetarits, Barbara Robidoux, Kim Shuck, Beverly Singer, Angel Sobotta, w.C.Sy / waaseyaa'sin Christine Sy, Jonathan Taylor, Tavia Torralba, Terra Trevor, J.K. Tsosie, Angie Trudell Vasquez, Steven Warren, Kyle White, Kimberly Gail Wieser, and Ray Young Bear.

Yellow Medicine Review A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought 

  • We have stories / as old as the great seas / breaking through the chest / flying out the mouth, / noisy tongues that once were silenced, /all the oceans we contain / coming to light. —Linda Hogan

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