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Heid E. Erdrich

Heid E. Erdrich was born in 1963 in Breckenridge, Minnesota, and grew up in Wahpeton, North Dakota. She is a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe. She received a BA from Dartmouth College, two MA degrees from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, and a PhD from the Union Institute.

Erdrich is the author of four poetry collections: Cell Traffic: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2012); National Monuments (Michigan State University Press, 2008), winner of the 2009 Minnesota Book Award; The Mother’s Tongue (Salt Publishing, 2005); and Fishing for Myth (New Rivers Press, 1997). Of her work, Sherman Alexie writes, “Funny, sexy, rowdy, and surprising, these poems pretty much cover the entire human existence.”

Erdrich is the editor of New Poets of Native Nations (Graywolf Press, 2018). She also coedited Sister Nations: Native American Women Writers on Community (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2002) and is the author of Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013).

Erdrich directs Wiigwaas Press, an Ojibwe language publisher. She has received awards from the Archibald Bush Foundation, The Loft Literary Center, and the Minnesota State Arts Board, among others. She currently teaches in the MFA program at Augsburg College and lives in Minnesota.


Bibliography

Poetry
Cell Traffic: New and Selected Poems (University of Arizona Press, 2012)
National Monuments (Michigan State University Press, 2008)
The Mother’s Tongue (Salt Publishing, 2005)
Fishing for Myth (New Rivers Press, 1997)

Prose
Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2013)

By This Poet

1

Peace Path

This path our people walked
one hundred two hundred              endless years
since the tall grass opened for us
and we breathed the incense that sun on prairie
                                                             offers to sky

Peace offering with each breath
each footstep           out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal   remediation                     restoration

Peace flag of fringed prairie orchid
green glow within white froth
calling a moth who nightly
seeks the now-rare scent                 invisible to us

invisible history of this place
where our great-grandfather         a boy
beside two priests and 900 warriors
gaze intent in an 1870 photo         
                                                             his garments white as orchids

Peace flag                                           white banner with red cross
crowned with thorns                       held by a boy              
at the elbow of a priest   
beside Ojibwe warriors                   beside Dakota warriors

Peace offered after smoke and dance
and Ojibwe gifts of elaborate beaded garments
thrown back in refusal  
by Dakota Warriors                         torn with grief  
                                                             since their brother’s murder

This is the path our people ran
through white flags of prairie plants
Ojibwe calling Dakota back
to sign one last and unbroken treaty

Peace offering with each breath
each footstep                out of woods
to grasslands plotted with history
removal   remediation                     restoration

Two Dakota    held up as great men
humbled themselves
to an offer of peace
before a long walk south

before our people entered the trail
walking west and north
                                                           where you walk now
where we seek the source

the now-rare scent
invisible as history
history the tall grass opens for us
                                                            Breathe the incense of sun on prairie
                                                            Offer peace to the sky