Our Native American Story Goes On...
We celebrate Native American Life and Literature and make the resources here available to seekers of knowledge at little or no cost to all our readers who mainly are students and tribal groups. However, when using this material in the classroom and in other settings, please give the writers and all the artists credit because they still own their creative work.
Community involvement and good will of community members sustain Soje Publishing. Thank you for your contribution of time and perspectives on living! Aho!
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Founded by Anna Lee Walters in 2015, Soje Publishing was envisioned as an online forum to share new creative work from Native American writers and artists interacting with each other in their own tribal communities. Occasional small printings of books and artwork are also published. All these creative works are resources for the classroom or lifelong learning.
Soje Publishing focuses on direct, personal, insight and generational experience of indigenous groups as time honored ways of knowing and being.
Soje, pronounced So-jay, is Siouan (Chiwere or Jiwere dialect), meaning smoke, an outcome of dynamic forces interacting together. Among some tribal people smoke is used as a form of communication with the world of spirit.
Most of the material here is available without cost, but please give Soje Publishing credit. Individual storytellers, writers, photographers, and artists own their creative works.
"[L]anguage began like a tiny acorn which grows into a towering tree, with many towering branches; from a small root, from a little sapling, in due time a full grown tree."
Josephine Waggoner, author of Witness; A Hunkpapha Historian Strong-Heart Song of the Lakotas.
Videos from Soje Publishing
We will be adding two minute videos on writers found in the archive.
"Mother Earth and Father Sky: Teachings" is told by Navajo historian and philosopher, Harry Walters. It can be viewed here (click the link) or on the Soje Channel of You Tube. "Chagre Wakan, Sacred Shield" can be viewed on the same channel or click the link here. We have had a good response to both movies since their release and they have also been used in Native American Literature classes.
New Writers and Crossing Borders
Josephine Dailey is a new writer. Read her story on Navajo women in the military. The author of "Step -Father" is also a new writer. Enjoy George Joe's short story now found on Archives page. Crossing Borders contains stories about people who have crossed borders and changed their and other peoples' lives for the good.
Teach Native American Literature
Soje Publishing offers teaching and learning tools or methods to use with the material found here. We offer suggestions to enhance life learning situations and learning in the classroom as well as learning to interact with our communities. While these stories and teaching methods may be used at no cost, please credit Soje Publishing. In the future, we will share outcomes of these teaching suggestions.
"The mind doesn't care what it thinks. It has to be trained."
Hatathli Johnson Dennison, 2017
Feature Short Story
All You ©2017 Anna Lee Walters
On the last day they were together, everyone shared a farewell meal. Most sat on chairs. Her plate with food portions, along with cup and water, were arranged on the floor, on a beautiful red and black mat, ceremoniously laid out. Everything in the last three days had been done according to ancient plan. Throughout, relatives spoke kindly to her, lovingly, continuing to teach her, though spiritual departure had already occurred.
Her physical body, a soft anchor for relationships they had all relished together, had just been put into earth on a whispery windy ridge, and then everyone gathered in this cavernous room, to initiate the next step.
She was fully present, too, capable of hearing and seeing but, of course, not of speech, as so many around her thought her main essence to be, and had been so accustomed to enjoying up to her twenty-fourth year. In place of her voice was a sonar sound in a chorus of others and her appearance, for the few who saw and felt it, was a visual ripple in space. Some younger people, and strangers in the crowd, didn’t realize or accept that when her voice quieted, she still had subtle presence. Furthermore, consciousness and intelligence, revealed themselves as traces of senses.
Somewhere inside of herself she spoke now, because it was worldly way and habit. She spoke to herself, mainly, because most of the people there could no longer hear her or respond.
A thread of thought appeared. A lightning flash.
It was an agreement with this transition, a total agreement.
“Years are wind. And I am becoming a tiny thing. Bird-like. Weightless. Without shadow.”
All around her, people ended the ceremonious meal, talking casually among themselves. She examined familiar faces and forms. They had mass; they cast shadows. Their voices had echoes.
She became attentive to something overpowering. A warm vivid streak of red intersecting east and west, north and south, above and below. And she was the core.
A moving point. It was she and she was it. There was no separation.
A clear observation. “This exists.”
She gave in to that current.
Wind, strings of sounds and images, made her powerless again and re-formed her.
Atius appeared. That name. That star light.
She announced, “I am becoming all you again.” There was no volume. There were no distinct words.
Only clear perception.
The world she experienced with her people began to spin. Her name whirled away with it.
“Becoming my true self again.”
She saw herself. Diminishing. Breaking up. Folding in.
But her deep consciousness did not break down or fall away.
Strings of wind, images, and sensations swayed her.
“They said nothing over here is ever too small or alone.”
She looked once more towards her people.
“If not for them I could not become my true self again.”
Their familiar faces and voices receded but were still within reach.
“They told stories of infinite holy white bones…”
Solid, massive, gleaming ivory bones filled space around her.
“I thought every sun was mine alone until they told me ‘no’.”
Brightness… Starry light…
“I followed my people and they were following YOU.”
She saw and heard her own feet chasing others.
“They sought your signs everywhere.”
“Atius!” An aura.
Relatives in the room were becoming more distant, their voices more vague, and they turned in such a way that all she saw were their backs.
“They are still showing the way.”
She was weightless but had infinite clarity.
“They say I cannot go back to what was before.”
A man in the room looked over his shoulder directly at her, raising his chin upward.
“They say I am to become all you again.”
Space opened wide.
Her voice such as it was, began to melt into that space.
Her people murmured. Those who knew such things, looked into each other’s eyes, nodded and began to gather their possessions and walk away.
She watched from afar but did not try to join them. She knew. Her consciousness knew. It recognized itself.
Innermost quiet expanded and prevailed.
The last image came…
Wings. Steady oars stroked holy wind.
Atius - Pawnee word meaning Father or Lord, old reference to the Sun
Morning Song Tipi
The story of Morning Song Tipi is intriguing for its integration of two worlds some 6000 miles from each other. It's intriguing also because of the tipi maker, Kazuko Nosaka. who envisioned Morning Song and carried on her tipi work for fifty years, from the 1970s to 2018. Although she no longer accepts orders for tipis (or poles which she also supplied) because she can no longer bear the weight of either one these days, she is quite willing to share reminiscences and experiences on making tipis and tipi use during a modern period of time not closely examined in the same way as tipis were studied a century ago. To spend a day with her is to learn about the unique tipi styles of the Cheyenne and Siouan peoples and the differences in setting up their tipis. Her knowledge comes from having made a few hundred tipis that she has cut, sewn, and finished. Most were created for ceremonial use.
As the story of “Morning Song Tipi” is told, scenes of this woman’s life appear with clarity. What it means to leave one’s homeland by choice for another place and life takes over, giving long-range reflection and illumination. To spend a day with her is to hear of a young woman setting out from Japan, alone and by her own choosing, for the United States. Two different worlds. She went from a childhood of being raised in a Zen temple to arriving in San Francisco during the “hippie” era. Shortly thereafter she moved to the Southwest, near the Hopi villages, and then on to the vicinity of Taos. Along the way she met the person who was to become her husband and “Morning Song Tipi” was born. To spend a day with her is to hear of all the people who helped her along the way acting as surrogate family, and of cultural exchanges which went deep and are very visible in her present way of life.
To spend a day with her is to learn of her ancestral family in Japan and the family she brought forth in America. Six children later, her stories of interacting with tribal communities, living in a tipi for twelve years and giving birth inside, are compelling for their insight and honest revelations about life in the period specified. Through them we see reactions to her presence on the periphery of Native American tribal life during the “flower generation” and “red power” and the “American Indian Movement.” To spend the day with her is to hear and see what she has learned from crossing borders; what it takes to keep autonomy and peace in the turmoil that every span of time thrusts upon a woman’s body, intellect and existence.
Finally, to spend the day with her is to hear that what was “Morning Song Tipi” is now changing. Has to change naturally in the dimensions of life each of us are in, in a given time. The native people who own a Morning Song Tipi and use it for tribal and ceremonial activity hold something very unique in Native American history. There’s a profound story of someone seeking life and creating one’s own world in it. Of course, every tipi is unique as are tipi makers.
Retired Army Colonel David C’de Baca tells us that the first Navajo Women to serve in the military may have been from the Torreon community in present day New Mexico in 1886. “Nal-Kai” and “Muchacha” were U.S. Army Scouts with the Army’s 20th Infantry Regiments and were officially listed in Army records. They were considered to be translators for the Army. “Mexicana Chiquita” (whose given name was “Nal-Kai" was 24 years old and Muchacha was 21 at the time. Both had the same dates of service, late May to October 11, 1886, during the Apache Wars.
More recently, the “Navajo Times,” carried a story on Lt. Col. Nathele Anderson who has been in the Army for over twenty years and is currently a Reserve officer with the Army Materiel Command-Army Reserve Element Sustainment Brigade at Ft. Sam Huston, Texas. Her first job in the Army was being a commander of transportation with the 787th Corps Support Battalion, and she is “the first Navajo woman to command Army units.” She says that being a minority in the Army was hard at first but feels that her leadership skills helped her get to the rank she now holds.
One reason that Navajos are drawn to the military is to become a leader and warrior. It is not only for the military service but for life afterwards when the military stint is over. They carry the tradition of being a warrior, helping not only in conflicts but in times of peace. They will become leaders.
Brunt, Charles D. “Two Navajo women May Have Been America’s GI Janes.” Albuquerque Journal 10 November 2016. Print.
Hawkins, Dari. “Native American Soldier Serves as Trailblazer.” The Redstone Rocket 11 September 2013. Print.
Pineo, Christopher S. “Navajo Women in the Military.” Navajo Times 7 November 2010. Print.
Navajo Women In The Military
All the material in this website is owned by the individual artists, storytellers, photographers and writers represented here.
A Short Story
By George Joe