In program marking Cambridge's Indigenous People's Day--celebrated as the federal holiday Columbus Day--eight Native American poets may be heard reading their work in the galleries. Enrich your museum visit by listening to an evocative recorded playlist of contemporary poems by Native American authors. Wander freely across the first-floor galleries to see where the poems take you and expand your understanding of Native arts and cultures. The poems, drawn from a powerful recent anthology, New Poets of Native Nations (edited by Heid E. Erdrich; Graywolf Press) celebrate Native poets first published in the twenty-first century. Hear the exhibits “come into voice” and experience the museum in a new way. Borrow a free audio player with regular museum admission.
Native American Poets Playlist: Poems in the Gallery will be available Saturday, October 12, 2019, through Monday, October 14, 2019. The museum is open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Featured Poems and Poets
- “Theory Doesn’t Live Here” Gwen Nell Westerman (Dakota)
- Excerpt from “Nature Poem” Tommy Pico (Kumeyaay)
- “Winiiam Aagimeke/William Making Snowshoes” Margaret Noodin (Anishinaabe)
- “It Goes Something Like This” Eric Gansworth (Onondaga)
- “Anasazi” Tacey M. Atsitty (Diné)*
- “American Arithmetic” Natalie Diaz (Mojave)
- “Not Just Anybody Can Have One” Trevino L. Brings Plenty (Minneconjou Lakota)
- “Warming” dg nanouk okpik (Inupiat-Inuit)
* Note: "Anasazi" is a Diné word sometimes translated as “enemies of our ancestors.” In the early-20th century, archaeologists applied this term to the ancestral Pueblo archaeological remains. Contemporary Pueblo people object to the use of "Anasazi," as the term has served to artificially separate them from the remains of their ancestors. The views presented in this poem and the others on the playlist represent those of the authors, not the views of the Peabody Museum or its staff, nor those of Harvard University.
New Poets of Native Nations will be available for purchase at the Peabody Museum's admission desk.
Bonus Historic Poem
Fable of the Fox and the Weasel, manuscript by Benjamin Larnell, circa 1711-1714. Collection of the Massachusetts Historical Society.
Nipmuc student Benjamin Larnell (ca. 1694–1714) was the last colonial-era Native American student to attend Harvard. Like all students of the day, Larnell was required to speak and write Latin prose and verse before admission. In this poem, which was possibly used to gain entrance to Harvard, Larnell turned a fable by Aesop into Latin verse. Sadly, Larnell died before graduating. For more about colonial Native American Harvard students, see the exhibition Digging Veritas.
Listen to the “Fable of the Fox and the Weasel” by Benjamin Larnell, ca. 1711–1714. The poem is read in Latin, and then in English, by Richard Tarrant, Pope Professor of Latin Language and Literature, Emeritus. Translation by Thomas Keeline and Stuart M. McManus.