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'For Myself'

Bill Walsh

by Lois Red Elk

This day, I adorn braided
sweet grass earrings handed
down from Mother's Santee
rings of aromatic medicine.

From the ancestor lands of
Father's Lakota family, I fill
pockets with handfuls of
cedar, my protective shield.

Into this circle of morning
spirit food, a prayer surfaces
from the Southern recess of
primal night-dwelling dreams.

I thank the Western powers,
where a mirror reflects
images of the ones I trust—
transparent photos of the

Mitakuyepi, floating in
frames of red and yellow
buffalo grass, thundering in
a structure of immortality.

To my ancestors' Northern
power, my garden awaits
the first sound of thunder, I
meditate a promise of sage,

the offering to be burned,
waving away harmful spirits.
To the East where all our
ceremonies approach the

carved pipestone, I extol
all the waiting visible spirits,
"Thank you for this rising,
this keep that cradles me."

Santee:  Eastern branch of the great Sioux Nation

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Dragonfly Weather, poems by Lois Red Elk
Credit Lost Horse Press

Lois Red Elk is an enrolled member of the Ft. Peck Sioux in Montana, with roots from the Isanti on her mother's side, and the Hunkpapa and Ihanktonwa from her father, who is descended from the Sitting Bull family. Raised in her traditional culture, she is a quill and bead worker, a traditional dancer, and an advocate for cultural preservation and practice.

Her poems, prose, and children’s stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies. Her first book, Our Blood Remembers (Many Voices Press, 2011) won the Best Non-Fiction award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. "For Myself" was published in her latest book, Dragonfly Weather (Lost Horse Press, 2013).

Chérie Newman is a former arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. She founded and previously hosted a weekly literary program, The Write Question, which continues to air on several public radio stations; it is also available online at and
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