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Elise Paschen and her tree agreement

For National Poetry Month Elise Paschen joins the show to discuss her work. Plus Aliyah Chavez has more on the White House press briefing she attended. And Mary Annette Pember tells us about the court battle involving a golf course and an ancient octagon earthwork in Ohio.

This is the 25th year celebrating National Poetry Month. It was started by The Academy of American Poets in 1996. Indian Country has several high profile poets and among them is Elise Paschen. She’s Osage, lives in Chicago and is a guest on today's show.  Paschen is the author of several books and her poems have been printed in various magazines. 

Aliyah Chavez, reporter-producer for Indian Country Today was at a White House press briefing and she just might have stumped White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki. More from Aliyah on this big moment for our team and Indigenous reporters everywhere!

And a court battle is brewing in Ohio. It’s between the state’s historical society and a country club. Mary Annette Pember, national correspondent for Indian Country Today discusses the case. Read her story about this on our website now. “UNESCO honor for ancient earthworks hits snag.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • Natives in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area are finally receiving COVID-19 vaccines. 
  • Two major funding opportunities to improve broadband internet on tribal lands are on the way. 
  • There’s a new initiative in South Dakota to teach civics and history. 
  • Score one for Wild Rice.
  • A motorsports program believed to be the first of its kind in Australia is aiming to develop the first all-Indigenous racing team.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Elise Paschen:

"Well, to be honest, I believe that it's a silver lining for many writers. So many writers are introverts and they enjoy just hibernating and writing. And I think a lot of writers have produced many, many poems during the pandemic. She's (Joy Harjo) a very dear friend of mine and I'm happy that she's had a chance just to stay home because she travels more than anybody else. I know. So she's had a very productive year.  

"So I just want to just say a little bit about the history. I'm glad you said it's the 25th anniversary. I, back then, used to run an organization, a nonprofit called the Poetry Society of America. And we're the oldest poetry organization in America. The Academy was founded after the PSA and we all gathered all the different non-profits, I guess in New York city gathered, and talked about poetry month and beginning poetry month and which month should be poetry month. And it was decided that April should be the month." 

The Tree Agreement
by Elise Paschen

The neighbor calls the Siberian Elm
a “weed” tree, demands we hack
it down, says the leaves overwhelm
his property, the square backyard.
He’s collar-and-tie. A weed tree?
Branches screen buildings, subway tracks,
his patch of yard. We disagree,
claim back the sap, heartwood, wild bark.
He declares the tree “hazardous.”
We shelter under leaf-hoard, crossway
for squirrels, branch house for sparrows, jays.
The balcony soaks up the shade.
Chatter-song drowns out cars below.
Sun branches down. Leaves overwhelm.
The tree will stay. We tell him “no.”
Root deep through pavement, Elm.

Mary Annette Pember:

"The country club is has leased this land from the Ohio History Connection. Actually they leased it for like more than a hundred years. I think it actually predates the official leasing time of 1930, but it's this land that contains the Newark earthworks, which is this like over 2000 year old earthwork that was constructed by a civilization here in Ohio that , predates t recognized tribes that were removed later in the 1830s."

"So they are like probably one of the oldest earthworks in the United States built by Indigenous peoples. And they're remarkable. Obviously have something to do with these folks vision of heavens and of a lunar cycles. So the Ohio history connection would like to vacate the lease that the mound builders country club has and open up the site to visitors and actually go full move forward with proclaiming it a UNESCO site."  

Aliyah Chavez:

"She didn't, but she did give me some more information about the White House Tribal Nations conference. As a lot of people know the White House Tribal Nations conference is an opportunity for tribal leaders to meet directly with the president and members of his cabinet. And we weren't sure if this was going to be reinstated, even though president Biden did campaign on this promise to tribal nations. And on Friday we learned from press secretary Jen Saki that the conference's aim to happen in person and hoping for later this year."

"And the other part of it is that it has also expanded. So it's not just a conference for tribal leaders. There's also a youth conference now. And so it's unclear if that youth conference will be reinstated as well. But we do know that the conference for tribal leaders will happen. The other thing that we learned was that a lot of the COVID relief funding from the American Rescue Plan is hoping to be dispersed to tribal nations here soon. They said that they will plan to spend $4 billion dollars in additional funding on Indian Country and COVID relief."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider

Mary Annette Pember, Red Cliff Ojibwe, is national correspondent for Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @mapember. Based in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email:

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