“Indians in T-shirts”

Twenty years ago, poet James Thomas Stevens read from this stage while studying at the Institute of American Indian Arts. He and his classmates stepped forward wearing T-shirts and jeans following a reading by local Indian poets dressed in buckskin and beating drums. “How quickly the audience dispersed when the drum ended, when they ceased to hear mention of Coyote or Raven, of how English was ‘like a razor slicing the indigenous tongue,’” Stevens wrote in 2010, remembering the incident. “We were simply Indians in T-shirts reading about who we are today.”

—Elizabeth Harball, in the course of a truly fascinating piece on fifty years of the Institute of American Indian Arts

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