Native American poet Tanaya Winder visited the Pine Ridge Reservation’s Red Cloud School recently to share her work and to hear the poetry of Lakota students.
Having the opportunity to voice her spoken-word poetry for the Lakota youth is as much of an inspiration for Winder as it is for the Lakota students to hear the poems of A celebrated Native American role model.
The Red Cloud School’s Heritage Center established its “Visiting Poet Series” last Fall with the goal of supporting and encouraging the aspirations of Lakota youth for creative self-expression.
Audrey Jacobs is Red Cloud’s museum educator. She sees the program as an opportunity for students to find their voices.
“We need to hear then more and we need to listen,” Jacobs observes. “We need to let them have more of a stage and…and part of that is building confidence in our students and helping them find ways to communicate with others.”
Poet Tanaya Winder agrees with Jacobs. She says there’s nothing better than coming to a Native community and meeting young poets who are still finding their passion for words.
“And it’s awesome just seeing how innovative and bright the students are,” Winder comments. “How they can funnel those gifts into their writing…and it just gives me a lot of hope for all the artists that the world has yet to meet.”
One of the students presenting a poem tonight is Marcus Ruff. The 17-year old spoken word artist has been writing poetry since 6th grade. Marcus feels that many poets turn to their craft as a means of dealing with the difficulties in their lives.
“I feel like poetry is kind of a tool,” Marcus explains. “That you can use to kind of be in communion with your pain. And kind of be able to face it…head first…and to go in and to experience that pain one-on-one. And to express it through artwork is so important for kids to actually begin that healing process.”
Marcus Ruff sees poetry as a gift that should be spread across the Pine Ridge Reservation…not only for Lakota youth to find their voices but to then use their voices to make a positive impact in their communities.