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Yellow Medicine Review – Spring 2007

Though Yellow Medicine County in southwest Minnesota is home to the native Dakota People, the first issue of Yellow Medicine Review includes artists indigenous to places as distant as Papua, New Guinea and Australia. It’s expected that a journal with “Indigenous” in its title would have considerable negative references to the colonizing culture. As with most white American mutts – lineage too mixed to be certain of anything – I have enough Indian blood to be an embarrassment to the indigenous. Regardless of my whiteness, as a reader, the strongest pieces in this journal were not the ones condemning the past but those expressing the Indigenous experience as it is now.

Though Yellow Medicine County in southwest Minnesota is home to the native Dakota People, the first issue of Yellow Medicine Review includes artists indigenous to places as distant as Papua, New Guinea and Australia. It’s expected that a journal with “Indigenous” in its title would have considerable negative references to the colonizing culture. As with most white American mutts – lineage too mixed to be certain of anything – I have enough Indian blood to be an embarrassment to the indigenous. Regardless of my whiteness, as a reader, the strongest pieces in this journal were not the ones condemning the past but those expressing the Indigenous experience as it is now.

Joel Waters’s “Being White” takes on the prevalent theme of identity from another angle: “I might have the skin. / I might be culturally aware. / But sticking feathers / In your hair / Does not make you an Indian. / At most you are a prairie / Chicken.” There’s a forthrightness in the prose that is enviable: “But that’s another story and this is about Autumn Pingishmook and every story of Autumn is about who we really are, whether we believe it or die of that great whiteman’s disease, and perhaps his most powerful teaching, denial.” Gordon Henry writes in “Autumn – Rematriations,” a series of scenes about the older narrator’s relationship with enigmatic and proud Autumn. The structure defies traditional treatments of time and is fraught with more metaphor than I can comprehend. I loved it. Kimberly Blaeser’s wandering story (six of her poems are included as well) “How Many Indians” concerns a beleaguered woman befriending a neglected boy and asks what the duty is of the community to protect its own. This perfect-bound, cleanly-edited, 180-page journal represents the Indigenous voice and the essence of quality story telling.
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