One of the most significant Native American writers of the latter part of the twentieth century, Simon J. Ortiz is known for
his insistence that the oral tradition of his Acoma Pueblo people is the guiding spirit behind all of his work. In 1993 the
Returning the Gift Festival of Native Writers recognized Ortiz with a Lifetime Achievement Award for literature, and in the
mid 1990s Ortiz was one of the most visible poet-storytellers on the lecture circuit in the United States.

The author of many books of poetry, essays, and short fiction, he is known for the strong sociopolitical comments on
Southwestern history and American culture embedded in his stories and poems about the struggles and joys of everyday
life.

Ortiz's Background
Born on 27 May 1941 in Albuquerque, Simon Joseph Ortiz was raised in the small outlying Acoma Pueblo community of
McCartys, New Mexico (Deetziyamah in his people's Keresan language). Ortiz's mother, Mamie Toribio Ortiz, was a
member of the Eagle clan; his father, Joe L. Ortiz, belonged to the Antelope clan. From a large family, Ortiz grew up in
dry country spotted with sage, juniper, and the rough basalt terrain known as El Malpais. Inhabitants of Acoma's mother
pueblo on a great mesa nearby have prayed for rain in this area for at least a thousand years, and Ortiz is heir to and
carrier of this tradition.

In 1948 Ortiz began attending the Bureau of Indian Affairs day school in the village, where he learned English as a
second language. After sixth grade he transferred to Saint Catherine's Indian School in Santa Fe, where the library
opened a new world to him; he also experienced a profound homesickness. Later he attended Albuquerque Indian
School and, in 1961-1962, Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado. After serving in the army from 1963 to 1966, he
returned to Albuquerque and enrolled at the University of New Mexico.

While there he encountered the Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday's influential novel House Made of Dawn (1968);
Momaday's tightly crafted poetry and luminous prose became an inspiration to the young Ortiz, who was looking for life
stories that paralleled his own and for models of writing that could articulate complex spiritual realities. He received a
master of fine arts degree from the University of Iowa in 1969.

That same year Ortiz was recognized for his skills in journalism with a Discovery Award from the National Endowment for
the Arts. He worked as public-relations director at Rough Rock Demonstration School on the Navajo Reservation in 1969-
1970 and as a newspaper editor for the National Indian Youth Council in Albuquerque from 1970 to 1973. He was an
instructor in creative writing and Native American literature at San Diego State University and at the Institute of American
Indian Arts in Santa Fe in 1974; at Navajo Community College in Tsaile, Arizona, from 1975 to 1977; at the College of
Marin in Kentfield, California, from 1976 to 1979; and at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque from 1979 to 1981.
In 1982-1983 he was consulting editor for the Pueblo of Acoma Press.

Ortiz taught at Sinte Gleska College, Rosebud, South Dakota, in 1985-1986. In 1989, after acting as tribal interpreter for
a year, Ortiz served as lieutenant governor of Acoma Pueblo. He taught at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon,
in 1990. He married Marlene Foster in December 1981; they were divorced in September 1984, after the birth of their
daughter, Sara.

Naked in the Wind
After publishing a chapbook, Naked in the Wind, in 1971, Ortiz attempted to publish a four-hundred-page book of poetry.
When advised that this was much too large a project for a new author, Ortiz rewrote some of the poems and published
them as two books, Going for the Rain (1976) and A Good Journey (1977). Along with the Blackfeet/Gros Ventre writer
James Welch's Winter in the Blood (1974) and Riding the Earthboy 40 (1976), Going for the Rain was one of the most
significant Native American works to reach the general reading public after Momaday's House Made of Dawn won the
Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1969. A Good Journey was published in the same year as the Laguna Pueblo writer Leslie
Marmon Silko's extraordinary first novel, Ceremony. These six works laid the groundwork for a flourishing of
contemporary Native American literature during the next two decades.

Going For Rain
Going for the Rain springs from the oral tradition of Ortiz's people and brings Ortiz's personal voice surprisingly near the
reader's ear. Ortiz writes of the beauty of the natural world and of the pains and pleasures of continually traveling to and
from home on a high desert plateau in western New Mexico. It is a carefully composed book of inner and outer journeying
that conveys the colors of Ortiz's newborn daughter's skin and the scent of piñon after a recent rainfall.

Going for the Rain consists of four parts -- "Preparation," "Leaving," "Returning", and "The Rain Falls"--preceded by a
prologue. The prologue establishes an attitude of prayer and prepares the reader to understand that the speaker is
ready to depart on a sacred journey that will result in his maturation as a human being. The song summons the Shiwana
(rainmakers), who return from the other world to bring blessings to the land and the people. Ortiz is actively participating
in the experience of renewal and of finding the good in life, of "going for the rain." Themes that emerge here center
around home, the Acoma people, children, language, and self. Ortiz writes: "A man leaves; he encounters all manners of
things. He has adventures, meets people, acquires knowledge, goes different places; he is always looking.... His
travelling is a prayer as well, and he must keep on."

Preparation
The first poem in "Preparation," "The Creation, According to Coyote," recounts the origin of the Keresan Pueblo people
and their journey upward through successive worlds until they emerge through a small sipapu (hole in the ground) onto
the earth's surface. The Keresan War Twins -- Uyuyayeh (Younger Brother) and Masaweh (Elder Brother) -- have many
adventures as they learn what life is about. Ortiz is using parallelism, one of the earmarks of oral tradition, when he
implicitly compares his own life journey to the journeys of the Twins and the migrations of the people who came before
him. Coyote the trickster, while not totally reliable, is a storyteller, like Ortiz himself. This identification of Coyote with Ortiz
will persist through much of Ortiz's work.

This section of Going for the Rain includes several poems for Ortiz's son, Raho Nez, and his daughter Rainy Dawn.
"Forming Child" and "To Insure Survival" are for Rainy Dawn. In the first he wishes that the unborn child will grow up with
a sense of respect, appreciation, and thoughtfulness, thereby honoring her mother, Joy Harjo, the Creek poet. In the
second poem he uses land and flesh imagery to describe the beauty of his newborn daughter, who is of the earth:

    You come forth
    the color of a stone cliff
    at dawn,
    changing colors,
    blue to red
    to all the colors of the earth

Rainy Dawn is blessed by Grandmother Spider, a cocreator of the universe with her sisters, according to Keresan
mythology. In "Two Women" the poet compares a Navajo woman weaver to Grandmother Spider, the originator of
weaving in the Southwest, thus strengthening the correspondences between past and present and between humans and
nonhumans. Grandmother Spider brought to humans the gifts of language and fine-tuned thought as well as the gift of
corn in the form of her Corn Sisters' bodies; honoring these qualities and substances enables one to maintain good
health. At the end of "Buck Nez" the writer prays: "What I want is a full life / for my son, / for myself, / for my Mother, / the
Earth." This yearning for wholeness and realized possibilities characterizes Ortiz's work.

Leaving
In "Leaving" the poet's concerns broaden out to encompass his varied experiences as he travels across America. Ortiz
exhibits a wry sense of humor in "Many Farms Notes" as he imagines a sheep saying, " 'You don't see many Acoma
poets passing through here.' " In the same poem the poet responds to a Navajo's question with utter seriousness:

    "What would you say that the main theme
    of your poetry is?"
    "To put it as simply as possible,
    I say it this way: to recognize
    the relationships I share with everything."

Travels in the South
In "Travels in the South" Ortiz takes heart when other Indian people show him kindness and lend support: "Once, in a
story, I wrote that Indians are everywhere. Goddamn right." In this same poem he recalls pulling off the road to hug a tree
when he heard about the killing of four students by National Guardsmen at Kent State University in Ohio on 4 May 1970:
such is the depth of his pain and compassion for a nation that had turned against itself.

Other poems in "Leaving" express sorrow for the loss of Indian land and life in Florida and the unspeakable losses of
Indians forcibly relocated to the cities by the U.S. government in the 1950s: "I am lonely for hills. I am lonely for myself."
Once the poet lost some of his poems, his airplane ticket, and nearly himself: "New York City almost got me / last night at
Kennedy Airport. / So messed up." The poet's situation is reminiscent of the Pueblo and Navajo myths in which young
men wander into dangerous territory, ultimately to offer their lives to the great Gambler in exchange for dazzling
possessions or the thrill of playing for high stakes.

There are poems of loss, recovery, and disorientation, such as "Today, the A-Train, 168th to 14th," and poems of
longing to return to health, such as "Hunger in New York City." Back home in western New Mexico, Ortiz sees urban life
taking a toll in "For Those Sisters & Brothers in Gallup," about a reservation border town where lives are often wasted by
alcoholism. Ortiz links the exploitation of the Native population by white shopkeepers to the relentless cycle of oppression
that encourages people to drink and to die walking the long road home.

Evening Beach Walk
"Evening Beach Walk" affirms the poet's need to keep searching, to keep living in spite of the hardships, to maintain a
positive attitude:

    It's a duty with me,
    I know, to find the horizons,
    and I keep on walking on the ocean's edge,
    looking for things in the dim light.

Frustrated by not seeing the horizon clearly, the speaker is determined to seek clarification. Here Ortiz anticipates the
imagery that he will use in After and Before the Lightning (1994), a book of poems set in the endless-horizon country of
South Dakota.

Ortiz's Background
Born into an important Acoma Pueblo family in New Mexico in 1941, Ortiz reflects in his writing a groundedness in the
experiences and perceptions of contemporary American Indians. Ortiz gained recognition in the late 1960s and early
1970s when the American public became interested in hearing American Indian voices. Ortiz was in the forefront of
writers who began to articulate American Indian issues and concerns. Some of these issues had to do with establishing
and maintaining identity in what many Indians regard as an alienating and dehumanizing American society. That identity,
historically in peril from acculturating federal policies, is reaffirmed by writers like Ortiz, who see the formation of an
Native American identity deeply tied to land, culture, and language.

Understanding the values of one's community and its relationship to the land is a central theme in Ortiz's writing, both his
poetry and short prose fiction. But full understanding of these values is available only through their articulation in
language. Language, for Ortiz, is the heart and soul of existence. In his essays, such as "Song, Poetry and Language,"
Ortiz explains how language provides us with consciousness, a measure of both our inner and outer lives.

Ortiz has written eloquently about his formation as a writer in the introduction to his volume Woven Stone. As a child
growing up in a traditional Acoma family in which the primary source of knowledge is acquired through the spoken word,
Ortiz did not imagine himself as a writer. That dream came later. But Ortiz had, nonetheless, an intense and interesting
relationship to language. He tells here the story of a little boy, probably Ortiz himself, who will not talk. His sisters, out of
love for the boy, ask their grandfather to teach him to speak.

The family patriarch does so by speaking to the boy, telling the boy that he will speak when it is time; the grandfather
says, "It is with language you will come about for yourself as a person ... it is with knowledge and words that you will know
and express love for yourself and your people." After this, the grandfather takes a brass door key out of his pocket, and
inserting it into the boy's mouth he tells the boy, "Now, Grandson, you will speak."

Speaking the values, knowledge, history, and desires of Acoma people, and American Indian people generally, has been
the principle aim of Ortiz's writing. Growing up in the 1960s, a decade of political consciousness-raising among U.S.
minorities and Third World peoples throughout the world, Ortiz sees his writing as both politically and spiritually motivated.

Writing, for Ortiz, is a way to resist a dominant society that would annihilate the small regional and ethnic cultures, such
as the American Indian cultures which have held on and persisted in spite of forces of assimilation. Coming into
consciousness of himself as an Indian, as part of a despised minority, Ortiz began to feel the rage, loneliness, and
desperation that has been expressed in many works by American Indian writers.

Woman Singing
In his short story, "Woman Singing," included in his volume titled Fightin', Ortiz writes about migrant farm workers,
Southwestern Indians who find themselves picking potatoes in Idaho. In a life characterized by poverty and alcoholism,
Ortiz evokes the loneliness of one Indian worker who falls in love with another man's wife because her singing makes him
think of his homeland.

















Finding a way to make a song, his own song "like those of The People," is what gives the man the strength to leave the
lonely and desperate life he has led and to go home. The song seems like a small consolation, but Ortiz is also
convinced that those who are disenfranchised by poverty, neglect, and racism can overcome these circumstances:
language can help us heal. Healing provides us with a way to continue in our humanity, allows us to grow as individuals
and to understand our commitment to the People.

Ortiz often expresses this movement of consciousness as a journey, and language—as he says in a biographical note to
The Man to Send Rain Clouds, "as a way of life which is a path, a trail which I follow in order to be aware as much as
possible of what is around me and what part I am in that life." Language, and by extension, writing, thus inscribes a path
of knowledge and self-knowledge. It enables a person to find a road for the individual to follow from inside oneself to the
outside, and from outside oneself to inside.

Going For Rain
This journeying in and out can be compared to the journey Ortiz describes in his prologue to his first volume of poetry,
Going for the Rain. Rain is a scarce but vital resource in the Southwest. In the high arid deserts of New Mexico and
Arizona, its presence makes life possible.

















When Ortiz invokes the motif of rain and journeying, he is calling on a traditional source, the prayers, songs, and
journeys that will insure the arrival of the shiwana, those spiritual entities which bring the rain, which insure survival and
continuance of people, plants, and animals. Those who go forth in search of the shiwana are engaged in something vital.
We can read this as metaphorical, but it is certainly more than that, for all those who go forth and return for the benefit of
The People enact a belief in, and commitment to, the creative and generative forces which help Indians and—as Ortiz
believes—all the oppressed survive.

"Returning," the third part of Going for the Rain, includes some poems of hope. "Washyuma Motor Hotel" describes a
vision from underground, as "the ancient spirits of the people conspire sacred tricks" against the mainstream Americans
who are sleeping upstairs, ignorant of the natural forces that are undermining the artificially contrived foundations of the
motel. There is a sense that corrupt America will be undone by powerful original forces that will regenerate the land; if
Indians are patient, they will outlast this wave of invaders.

Crossing the Colorado River into Yuma
Ortiz writes in "Crossing the Colorado River into Yuma": "Neon is weak. / Concrete will soon return to desert." In
proclaiming this vigilant outwaiting Ortiz joins Momaday, who says about Pueblo Tanoan speakers in House Made of
Dawn: "They have assumed the names and gestures of their enemies, but have held on to their own, secret souls; and in
this there is a resistance and an overcoming, a long outwaiting."

Ortiz mentions that he is a veteran, but he expands the definition of the term to include one who has survived millennia of
struggles: "I am a veteran of at least 30,000 years / when I travelled with the monumental yearning / of glaciers." Here, as
elsewhere in Going for the Rain, the poet acknowledges his ancestry in northern Asia and his kinship with the plants and
peoples of that place.

In "Fragment" the speaker is consoled in a difficult moment by a small stone he holds in his hand; this "fragment / of the
earth center" gives him strength and reassurance. The poet is also heartened by a long bus ride that is bringing him
back home to Albuquerque. In "East Of Tucumcari" crevices along the road are sensually described as womanly, as
taking him in. This long journey home is "overwhelming" for the traveler, who can "even smell / the northern mountains /
in the water."

"The Rain Falls," the last part of the book, brings together many of the dominant themes and concerns of the volume.
Written in common, everyday language, the poems here reiterate a vision of harmony and of integration with the natural
world. In "Spreading Wings on Wind" the poet tells himself:

    I must remember
    that I am only one part
    among many parts,
    not a singular eagle
    or one mountain. I am
    a transparent breathing.

"Four Dheetsiyama Poems" includes the remark that "when loneliness / for myself has overcome me, / the Mountain has
occurred." Mount Taylor, or Kaweshtima (Snowed Peak), is willing to share its centering presence with the poet.
In "For Nanao" a Japanese poet friend is honored for his joyous discovery that he and a Navajo woman who lives on the
rim of Canyon de Chelly share a common language that dates back to the Ice Age. In "Juanita, Wife of Manuelito" Ortiz
looks at a hundred-year-old photograph of another Navajo woman and imagines what she looked like when she was a
child, "driving her sheep."

Her demeanor would have darkened when, as a mature woman, she endured the several-hundred-mile Long Walk in
1864 to Fort Sumner, New Mexico, when nine thousand Navajos were forcibly removed from their homelands by federal
troops under Kit Carson and Gen. James Carleton and their crops and livestock were destroyed. Ortiz learns patience
and survival from Juanita's story as he teaches this history lesson to his son.

Hawk
Ortiz strives for keen perception in several poems about animals. In "Hawk" he recognizes the hawk as "this man, he
knows what he is doing." In "Buzzard" the bird of the title is valued for his role in the circle of life and for his powers of
sight, inspiring the poet to meditate on the "quality of regenerating visions." In "A Deer Dinner" an old clan mother is
honored by being offered the eyes of the deer, the gateway to its spirit. Sight imagery also occurs in "Morning Star," with
its description of Pueblo sacred space:

    The space before dawn
    holds morning star
    in its true eye,
    the center of all places
    looking out
    and always in

The Morning Star is associated in Pueblo mythology and ritual practice with Masaweh of the Twin War Gods, who, like
the star, is a guide.

Going for the Rain deepens in intensity as Ortiz eloquently struggles toward a more finely honed perception and a
greater sensitivity than he has ever known. Like his father, who, as a mason, enjoys repairing "stone woven together" in
a four-hundred-year-old wall, Ortiz has created a book that will last. But as the poet modestly reminds the reader in
"Curly Mustache, 101-Year Old Navajo Man," "I got the story from someone way back."

The poems in A Good Journey deal with themes similar to those in Going for the Rain: the struggles of personal growth,
fatherhood, traveling the country searching for oneself, Coyote, the violence that permeates America. Ortiz prefaces the
book with comments from an interview. In response to the questions "Why do you write?" and "Who do you write for?" he
says:

Because Indians always tell a story. The only way to continue is to tell a story and that's what Coyote says.
Ortiz is self-deprecating but honest when he tells his children that he is just the vehicle for the stories, which have their
own integrity and their own ways of becoming known to human beings.

A Good Journey is divided into five sections, each successive one adding to the momentum of the whole -- much as an
old pickup truck going down the road gains speed with each shift of the gears. The poet's journey here is a continuation
of his transcontinental travels in Going for the Rain. It is, indeed, a "good journey," even though there are moments of
pain and temporary dislocation along the way.

Like Going for the Rain, this book opens with a tribute to Coyote, one of the prime movers of the created universe. The
poet-critic Patricia Clark Smith points out that Ortiz identifies with this wily creature in part because of Coyote's
contradictory nature: Coyote exhibits the powers both of creation and of destruction, and he is, above all, unpredictable
in his buffoonish antics. Walking the tightrope between the sacred and profane worlds, Coyote sometimes falls to certain
death yet manages to pick himself up and travel on. So, too, does Ortiz see himself as living for a time in limbo between
the dangers of overindulgence in alcohol and the blessings of corn food, between the draw of the city and the pull of
home.

Telling About Coyote
In "Telling about Coyote" Ortiz retells a traditional Pueblo narrative. On his way to Zuni, Coyote "lost / everything.
Everything. / and that included his skin, his fur." It is not hard to see the parallels between this poignant story of loss and
the poet's experience in the autobiographical poem "Grants to Gallup, New Mexico," in part 4 of the volume: "Once, I
been to California. / Got Lost in L.A., got laid / in Fresno, got jailed in Oakland, / got fired in Barstow, and came home."
On another level Ortiz may be suggesting that Coyote's being stripped to the bone is a parallel to the genocide and
cultural destruction inflicted on Indians in the Southwest during the past 450 years.

In another retelling of a Pueblo Coyote story the poet graphically describes an encounter between Coyote Lady
(Tsuushki in Keresan) and Spider Grandmother (Kahmaasquu Baba). Spider Grandmother, a powerful deity who created
the world, helps the stranded Coyote Lady down from a pinnacle, but the latter disobeys a promise not to look back up
from the swinging basket. As a result of her irresponsibility, Coyote Lady plunges to the earth and is dashed to pieces.
But the ever-curious Skeleton Fixer (Shuuwimuu Guiguikuutchah) sings and dances over her, bringing her shattered
body back to life. (This symbolic healing pattern of fragmentation and reassemblage through ritual action is also found in
Navajo culture.) Coyote Lady jumps up and runs away, and Skeleton Fixer exclaims: "Oh, it's just you Coyote -- I thought
/ it was someone else." The reader recognizes that Ortiz is talking to himself when he asks: "Coyote, old man, wanderer, /
where you going, man?"

The good feelings displayed in the Coyote stories are also prevalent in such poems as "How to make a good chili stew,"
"Earth and Rain, The Plants & Sun," "A Birthday Kid Poem," and "Apache Love." In the last poem Ortiz stresses in
repetitive lines that "It is how you feel / about the land ... about the children ... about the women ... about all things."

When the feeling is right, Hozhoni (a Navajo term for a sense of beauty and balance) pervades everything. Ortiz values
intuition and right living, which come from maintaining respect and balanced energies. "How to make a good chili stew" is
the story of a recipe transformed into a supper in the La Plata Mountains near Durango, Colorado. Enacting an age-old
drama of Pueblo-style campsite cooking with natural ingredients, the poet teaches the listener that a proper attitude of
"good thoughts" and thinking "of a song to go along with it" will produce a stew that nourishes both body and spirit. "Look
all around you once in a while," Ortiz advises.

    "Pay the utmost attention to everything, and that means the earth, clouds, sounds, the wind. All these go into the
    cooking."

The stew, stirred into being in the big iron kettle over an open fire, is part of the place where it is made. Although cooking
over a campfire may be a commonplace activity, Ortiz is writing from a culture in which multiple significances are
associated with daily events.

As Antonio G. Idini has observed in an unpublished 1993 paper, "the symbol of food in this tribe works as a means of
keeping the world in balance, or restoring the balance when it is broken." In regard to this poem Idini, following Leslie
White, says that "the preparation of food has important ceremonial and religious implications," because male assistants
to the war chiefs "do the ceremonial cooking, and supply them with deer meat."

Ortiz would undoubtedly be aware of this traditional male role that is an extension of hunting ritual. In his poem, then,
Ortiz celebrates both an everyday activity and the performance of a ritualistic process that is reminiscent of a sacred
social act.

Notes For My Child
The second section of the book, "Notes for My Child," includes several elemental poems that celebrate the poet's son's
connection with the earth, his new home. "Grand Canyon Christmas Eve 1969" describes a camping trip on which the
boy awakens crying and then "snuggle[s] down / like he was back / on Siberian ice, / the winds howling." The poem
closes with images of eternity:

    I lie down on my earth bed.
    Here it is possible
    to believe legend,
    heros praying on mountains,
    making winter chants,
    the child being born Coyote,
    his name to be the Christ.

    Here it is possible
    to believe eternity.

In this sacred place the natural world convinces people that mythological events still hold sway over the destinies of
mortal men and women. In "Canyon de Chelly" little Raho puts a stone in his mouth, and his father thinks: "The taste of
stone. / What is it but stone, / the earth in your mouth. / You, son, are tasting forever." The act of incorporating the stone
into his body links the child to eternity, to the land of mythology.

Announcing that "Today the Katzina come," the pueblo village crier celebrates the renewal of creative energies in the
central dance plaza. Arriving "dancing prayers," the Katzina (masked spirit beings) mediate between the human side and
the realm of the deities. Because of "the fragile cycle of the universe," people must "learn how to recognize sadness, the
small and large tragedies" of life, so that they may better cope with them. For the Pueblos, the Katzina provide strength
that signals that life will go on. "Endure ... be enduring" is the appropriate attitude, and this act of enduring is
accomplished by right thinking: "Think of all the things you love. think peace and humility / and certainty and strength" so
"it shall continue well."

Good Journey
"How Much He Remembered," part 3 of A Good Journey, focuses on traveling and aching for home. When the poet is
queried at the end of "Places We Have Been" about "How Much Coyote Remembered," he responds, "O, not too much. /
And a whole lot. / Enough" -- suggesting that Ortiz has traveled to the edge of oblivion and back again into ordinary
consciousness.

The fourth section of A Good Journey, "Will Come Forth in Tongues and Fury," is filled with sadness and bitterness. In
"Grants to Gallup, New Mexico" the racist attitudes of shopkeepers and authorities in Gallup, where "the cops wear riot
helmets ... and you better / not be Indian," are cause for feeling "like / going on. / West into the sun at evening." While
replete with well-placed anger, this section of the book is also rich with compassion. In the poignant "For Our Brothers:
Blue Jay, Gold Finch, Flicker, Squirrel" Ortiz touches the twisted, crushed bodies of the roadkill casualties of fast-paced
industrialized society and speaks to them in an apologetic voice. He tells Gold Finch, "I sorrowed for you."

To "Flicker, my proud brother," he says: "Your ochre wings were meant / for the prayer sticks." These birds embody the
sacred colors blue, yellow, and red, which are symbolically associated by the Acoma with the cardinal directions; thus,
Ortiz must also lament the loss of their intact feathers, which could have carried the people's prayers upward to the spirit
world, the land of the kachinas.

Ultimately, his best response to the animals' unnecessary deaths is to tell their story, hoping to make amends: "You tell
the stories of their struggles.... That is the only way."

Part 5 of A Good Journey, "I Tell You Now," is introduced by a line drawing of a great bird by the Navajo-Pueblo artist
Aaron Yava. Opening with images of dawn breaking and his father singing or weaving stone walls, it conveys a healthy
feeling, as if the bitterness and sense of loss of the previous poems has dissipated.

One sign that hope has returned is the presence of old men: Uncle Jose, Touching Man, and Amado Quintana, known as
Old Man Humped Back. The blind Amado "can see in his mind, / and he tells his grandson" to recognize the living history
in places:

    "You can see that canal that runs
    from that gathering of cottonwoods
    and then turns to the south
    by Faustin's field, that canal
    was dug by the first people
    who came down from the Old Place.
    It was dug then."

Gathering is always a positive image in Ortiz's work, since it is an act of wholeness. In this passage the grandfather
expresses crucial local knowledge through oral tradition as he tells the boy about the hand-maintained irrigation ditch. It
was the ancestors, or "first people," probably the Anasazi, who, a millennium ago, brought the life-giving water
downstream into the desert plain at the base of Enchanted Mesa and the Pueblo of Acoma.

A long way from Acoma is the Veterans Hospital in Fort Lyons, Colorado, where Ortiz was treated for alcoholism in the
1970s. One of the "Poems from the Veterans Hospital" is "Travelling," a paean to intellectual curiosity, restless energy,
and life on the road.

Ortiz sketches himself in the hospital library, "looking at the maps, the atlas, and the globe, / finding places," hungry for
knowledge and experience of the world. From moment to moment "He is Gaugin, he is Coyote, he is who he is, / travelling
the known and unknown places, / travelling, travelling." Charting his life by the stars and paper grids, the poet, in various
personae, imagines where the winds of destiny will take him.

For a Taos Man Heading South
An elegiac farewell is offered "For a Taos Man Heading South." As the thunder sounds, the poet anticipates rain and
speaks in Keresan, his Acoma language:

    Qow kutsdhe neh chah dhyuuh.
    Hah uh, qow kutsdhe nehchah dhyuuh.

    Let it rain.
    Peh eh chah.

After a warning to "stay out of those deadly bars," the poet invites the man, whose name is Mondragon, to come to
Acoma for the summer dances and feasting:

    "You be good and strong now, good buddy.
    Come up to Acu. The people are having dances
    in July, four days, when the katzina come.
    Come visit. Bring your family."

As these words are said, thunder sounds, creating a "travelling prayer" of moisture, a blessing on Mondragon's journey
back to New Mexico. This storm foreshadows the storms on the northern Plains that will resound in After and Before the
Lightning.

I Tell You Now
"I Tell You Now" is written in the form of an imaginary conversation with a woman from Isleta Pueblo whom he saw on a
street in downtown Albuquerque, the ancestral homeland of the Isleta. Ortiz apologizes for the limitations of his words; he
wishes that he could convey the depth of his feeling for her people's sorrows and the tenacity of their long struggle
against colonialism.

He mentions the Isleta resistance to the Catholic priest who "had the earth of your church cemented over" -- a reference
to the kiva (traditional underground ceremonial chamber of Pueblo religious activity). Old attitudes toward Native people
persist, as is shown by a fatal train accident involving an Indian family: "the AT&SFRY railroad never bothered to protect
you when they laid their tracks through your land."

The Isletas are actively resisting further encroachment on their land and further harm to their people: "The fight the Isleta
people put up against the State when the State wanted to use your land for an Interstate was really something." A Good
Journey ends on a hopeful note with the poet's recollection of meeting a family years before in El Paso.

The family was apparently from Ysleta del Sur, the Tigua-speaking pueblo that splintered off from the mother pueblo
during the Pueblo Revolt more than three hundred years ago: "the man said they had relatives up north on the river and
said some day they were going to visit because it had been a long time since they had come south." This family would
eventually reclaim a portion of its identity by traveling north along the Rio Grande to home.

Fight Back
In 1980 Ortiz published Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, for the Sake of the Land . This spirited book
commemorates "the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 and our warrior Grandmothers and Grandfathers." Fight Back consists of
poems and story narratives that tell both a panoramic and a personal history of the region where Ortiz grew up.

Spanning the time from before the arrival of the Spanish in the Southwest in 1539-1540 to the 1980s, the book
emotionally chronicles the history of encounters in the troubled region now known as New Mexico. It primarily concerns
Pueblo interaction with the Spanish and later with the Anglos, but others, such as the Navajos and Chicanos, have their
places in the story, too.

While on the surface this history is that of a tug-of-war over landownership and use, it is also a battle over cultural values
-- in particular, concepts of obligation versus possession. At the crux of Fight Back is a presentation of the contrasting
spiritual and epistemological systems that demarcate different cultures' worldviews.

Ortiz makes it clear that the underlying assumptions of the conquerors were that land was a commodity to be stolen, sold,
or bartered for and that indigenous claims to place, based on continual habitation and sacred obligation, could be
dismissed. With the new inhabitants of the Southwest came new philosophies and apparatuses, often designed to stake
irrefutable claims to recently acquired plots of land.

Out of this struggle over land base arose, over time, an uncomfortable and wary accommodation of each culture with the
values and ways of life of the other. (This story is also told, from a Pueblo perspective, in the videotape Surviving
Columbus: The Story of the Pueblo People [1992], written by Ortiz and narrated by his nephew Conroy Chino, a well-
known newscaster who is also from Acoma Pueblo.)

The main theme of Fight Back is that in spite of their domination by foreign powers for five hundred years, the Pueblo
people continue to survive and to maintain their old ways. Pueblos are noted for their resiliency, which is, in part,
because of their remaining rooted in their ancestral lands. Whereas other tribes, such as the Cherokees and Creeks,
were forcibly relocated by the government in the early 1800s, the relative isolation of the Southwestern tribes allowed
them to remain at home.

"Mid-America Prayer" opens the volume with a call for unity among all generations of the poet's people. He wants to join
them "in a relationship that is responsible / and proper, that is loving and compassionate, / for the sake of the land and
all people." Just as the hand-carved wooden Zuni war gods must all reside in Zuni Pueblo country to ensure abundant
rainfall worldwide, so, too, must there be a genuine spirit of cooperation among the Pueblos if they are to continue.

Fight Back continues with a recent economic history of the Grants, New Mexico, area, to the north of Acoma. When he
was a boy the atomic bomb was tested at White Sands missile range in southeastern New Mexico.

Elders among the Pueblos still remember "the false dawn" of that day in 1945 and have lived to cry alarm. Ironically, the
radioactive materials employed in the detonation of that prototype bomb, and in the subsequent bombs used by the
United States government against the Japanese, came from the Laguna-Acoma area, home to people with essentially
peaceful agrarian values that promote life.

The world's largest open-pit uranium mine -- the Anaconda Jackpile -- was located on Laguna Pueblo land adjacent to
Acoma; this source of employment was also a source of grave illness and death. Before the health hazards were well
known, Ortiz had worked as a uranium miner. The Grants, New Mexico, farming belt that used to call itself "The Carrot
Capitol of the World" has contaminated its own soil.

Final Solution
In "Final Solution: Jobs, Leaving" the poet shows how colonization has made for dependency: "We had to buy groceries, /
had to have clothes, homes, roofs, / windows. Surrounded by the United States, / we had come to need money." All of
this newly created reliance on standard material goods contrasts with the self-sustaining communities that the Pueblos
maintained before the American period began with the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American
War in 1848.

Poem- That's the Place Indians Talk About
One of Ortiz's most frequently cited poems, "That's the Place Indians Talk About," appears in Fight Back. Contrasting
Indian and white concepts of land use, Ortiz juxtaposes the U.S. Navy's fenced enclosure of the Coso Hot Springs, within
the China Lake Naval Station, to the Paiute tribe's traditional use of this sacred place for healing purposes. Indians can
hear "the stones in the earth rattling together" and the voice of the earth "talking to" them. Acknowledging the power of
the hot springs is crucial for becoming identified with the potent life forces that heal.

Several poems in the central section of Fight Back are concerned with essential truth and knowledge, with ultimate life-
giving values. In "We Have Been Told Many Things But We Know This To Be True," the poet voices his Puebloan
philosophy that there has always been a reciprocal relationship between the land and the people: "the land has given us
our life, / and we must give life back to it." This comment is echoed in "Mama's and Daddy's Words," where the poet's
parents say: "You have to fight / by working for the land and the People." It becomes evident, then, that what Ortiz means
by fighting is assuming a peaceful warrior's stance against cultural exploitation and destruction of the environment. The
last two poems in this section, "Returning It Back, You Will Go On" and "It Will Come; It Will Come," resonate with the
rhythms of chant; the reader hears the poet's father's heart beating: "Life beating / Earth beating / All beating." All of
existence pulsates when things are planted, cared for, and given a chance to grow: "Thundering, the coming Rain ... will
come," blessing the people with new energy for continuance.

The last third of Fight Back is a long mixed-form narrative titled "No More Sacrifices." Interweaving personal reflections
from a poetic journal and a prose narrative history of his people, Ortiz balances intimate scenes with grandiose vistas.
Ortiz declares that there will be "no more sacrifices" of his ancestral land. Native sovereignty will prevail.

The poetic journal threaded throughout "No More Sacrifices" is structured around a journey to the top of Srhakaiya, the
Acoma sacred mountain to the west. The poet approaches the mountain, climbs it, gathers perspective on his life, and
then starts back home. Parched by thirst on his way down, he unknowingly drinks from a polluted spring and becomes ill.
This sickness is associated with a strong sense of "otherness," a feeling of alienation caused by loss:

    I had drunk some water the evening before
    on the northside of Srhakaiya.
    The spring was scummed over.
    A Garden Deluxe wine empty lay nearby.
    The poisoned water is thus compared to alcohol; both foul the beautiful primeval land. The sour
    water reminds him of stories he heard when he was a child:
    My mother said the people
    drank
    from the nearby river
    when she was a girl
    But when I was a boy,
    we used it only for washing clothes.
    We could not drink it.

The contrast between pure water and polluted, foul-smelling water is a metaphor for the progressive decline of Native
culture since the first contact with Europeans. Even though "there are songs / about the rain," the poet is thirsty and is
briefly full of despair, with "no hope at all."

The dryness reminds him of the Felipe brothers' act of desperation in the 1950s, when they killed a witch in the guise of
a state policeman near the base of Srhakaiya. (This incident is fictionalized in Momaday's House Made of Dawn, Ortiz's
"The Killing of a State Cop" [1974], and Silko's "Tony's Story" [1974].) Significantly, the poet looks northwest of the
mountain, the side ritually associated with the direction of death, and sees "clouds ... towards Ambrosia Lake," which is
home to dangerous "underground mines."

By the time Ortiz has hiked back to the base of Srhakaiya, his "feeling / of 'otherness' " has passed. He is able to see
beauty again as he watches a pair of Indian horses gallop into a canyon as the last light of sunset is fading.
Intermingled with this personal story, "No More Sacrifices" is a historical narrative that has been transmitted to Ortiz
through the oral tradition.

Ortiz Discusses His Ancestors
Ortiz says that his ancestors came from the northwest, in the vicinity of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, former homes of
the Anasazi. A millennium ago the Aacqumeh hanoh (Acoma people) settled at their present location, amid "red and
orange cliffs" south of Kaweshtima. Aacqu means "Which Is Prepared"; the name, bestowed by the ancient leaders at the
end of a long migration journey, signifies that this place is his people's rightful spot on earth.

When the Spanish arrived at Acoma, Capt. Hernando de Alvarado, traveling under orders from Francisco Vásquez
Coronado, was impressed by the people who lived in this "strange place":

When the Spaniard came in 1540, he found Aacqu very wealthy in its material security, social well-being, and spiritual
integrity.... The streets of the city, as he called it, were very clean and orderly, and he was impressed by its location on a
magnificent rock.... The Aacqumeh hanoh welcomed him, fed him, and gave him many gifts.

In spite of the hospitality and generosity shown them, the Spaniards' demands for tribute escalated over the years until,
in 1598, the Acomas attacked and killed a contingent of soldiers under the command of Juan de Zaldívar. In retaliation
Zaldívar's brother Vicente and his men attacked the mesa-top village on 21 January 1599, killing at least eight hundred
Acomas; of the survivors, each male who was twenty-five or older had one foot amputated, and the young women were
enslaved.

These atrocities led the Acomas to join the other unified Pueblos in the successful Pueblo Revolt:
In August of 1680 when the Pueblo people rose against the ruling Spaniard oppressor, they were joined in the revolt by
the mestizo and genizaro, ancestors of the Chicano people, and the Athapascan-speaking peoples whose descendants
are the peoples of the Navajo and Apache nations, and descendants of Africans ... [who] were all commonly
impoverished.

Twelve years later, the Spanish under Diego de Vargas reconquered the region. American rule was even worse than that
of the Spanish: Ortiz says that his tribe "had never seen thieves like the Mericano before." Consequently, he advocates a
continuation of "that courageous liberation struggle" begun by his ancestors four centuries earlier.
"No More Sacrifices" can be read as a guide to right living through traditional Pueblo ways.

Ortiz says that his ancestors possessed a system of life which spelled out exactly how to deal with the realities they knew.
The people had developed a system of knowledge which made it possible for them to work at solutions. And they had the
capabilities of developing further knowledge to deal with new realities.

These flexible ways of thinking, rooted in nature, can continue to provide direction and hope in the modern world.
Ortiz writes of corn's sacred role in Pueblo spiritual life:

    "It is a food, gift, seed, symbol, and it is the very essence of humankind's tending and nurturing of life, land, and
    product of physical, mental, and emotional work."

In Pueblo conceptions, human misbehavior causes drought; conversely, respectfulness and cooperation encourage
rainfall. "The hanoh anxiously watch the springs at Ghoomi and Gaanipah" as signs or indicators of the health of the
land. As long as fresh water seeps out, there is the certainty that prayer and ritual remain efficacious means of blessing
the home. As an antidote to American society's self-destructive tendencies, Ortiz offers the Pueblo ideal of self-reliance.

From Sand Creek
From Sand Creek (1981), one of Ortiz's most overtly political works, won the 1981 Pushcart Prize for poetry. The book
takes its point of departure from the 29-30 November 1864 massacre of 133 Cheyenne and Arapaho at Sand Creek,
Colorado, by cavalry troops under the command of Col. John Chivington. Ortiz declares in the preface that this volume of
poetry, a bittersweet lament for lost ones, is also "an analysis of myself as an American, which is hemispheric, a U.S.
citizen, which is national, and as an Indian, which is spiritual and human."

Thus, Ortiz intertwines the narrative of his own life with the greater narratives of the western Indian nations and of the
United States as a whole. The poems were written at the Fort Lyons Veterans Administration Hospital, where Ortiz was
being treated for alcoholism, and his perspective is shaped by these bleak circumstances. In From Sand Creek Ortiz
explains that "Europe was hungry for raw material, and America was abundant forest, rivers, land." Since colonial times
there has been an onslaught of greedy settlers, blind to life-giving values, who have pushed westward without "regret /
for the slaughter / of their future."

Coming generations of American children will suffer from this reduced inheritance. Ironically, the poet, whose people
have had their land stolen, is himself suspected of being dishonest. A clerk follows him around in a Salvation Army store,
expecting him to steal some recycled goods: "She caught me; / Carson caught Indians." Although he "couldn't have
stolen anything," the poet feels that he should have done so as a means of avenging past wrongs: "my life was stolen
already."

One of the causes of the shrinking of the land base of Native peoples was the arrival in 1879 of the railroad in the region
that would become New Mexico, giving Anglos from the East Coast and the Midwest easy access to Indian country. Ortiz
writes of the unnatural sounds that originate from the tracks a mile north of his Acoma Pueblo home: "Thunder rolling
across the plains is a beautiful valorous noise, but the train that became America roars and cries." The train is a
metaphor for America, which is on a long journey to find and define itself. (Yet in a 1992 interview with David King
Dunaway [published in 1995], Ortiz recalled fondly how his father, who worked for the Santa Fe Railroad, would sing
Jimmie Rodgers songs, such as "Waiting for a Train."

In that interview Ortiz also remembered growing up listening, with his brother, to "battery-powered radios in the late
1940s and early 1950s" that brought them music. For Ortiz, radio was "a voice from another world. It was the connection
that really indicated the changes that were taking place.")

In addition to treating temporal themes in From Sand Creek, Ortiz also reminds the reader of the manifestations of spirit
in the Pueblo world: "In this hemisphere, corn is ancient and young; it is the seed, food, and symbol of a constantly
developing and revolutionary people." Corn is life-giving, as are the stars: "Indian astronomers studied the stars and set
them in their memory so their people would not ever forget their place in all creation."

Ortiz writes of the value of dreams as guiding forces: "Dreams are so important because they are lifelines and roadways,
and nobody should ever self-righteously demean or misuse them." It is with strength born of awareness of these
stabilizing forces that Ortiz summons the hope and compassion to love America, in spite of everything: "I have always
loved America; it is something precious in the memory in blood and cells which insists on story, poetry, song, life, life."

Although Ortiz is primarily known as a poet, he also writes fiction. Two collections of his short stories have appeared:
Howbah Indians (1978) and Fightin': New and Collected Stories (1983). Fightin' includes nearly twenty stories, a handful
of which magnificently illustrate the complex dynamics of conflicting white and Indian worldviews.

Contrasting the materialistic values and narrow-mindedness of the dominant society to the respectfulness and generosity
of the Pueblo nations, Ortiz suggests that a peaceful resolution of cultural conflict requires serious accommodation on
both sides. Ortiz's most admirable non-Indian characters, such as Bill and Ida in "To Change in a Good Way," the
nameless narrator in "Hiding, West of Here," and the Swedish family in "Pennstuwehniyaahtsi: Quuti's Story," transcend
the limitations of their backgrounds and share a willingness to be imaginative, think beyond ethnic stereotypes, and feel
deeply for others.

"To Change in a Good Way" appeared in poetic form in Fight Back. The prose version allows Ortiz to expand the details
and develop a slow buildup to Slick's death, which brings about a broadening of perspectives for his older brother Bill
and Bill's wife, Ida. At the beginning of the story the lifestyle of Bill and Ida is contrasted to that of their newfound Pueblo
friends, Pete and Mary.

The Okie newcomers Bill and Ida struggle to water Ida's small garden with a plastic hose hooked to an ever-diminishing
town water supply, and Ida's corn comes up "kind of stunted and wilty looking." Meanwhile, Pete and Mary's garden
flourishes with water from the runoff of the Rio de San Jose. The couples become friends, and the Pueblos share their
gardening skills with the whites.

When Bill and Ida are notified that Slick, a soldier serving in Vietnam, has accidentally been killed by stepping on an
American land mine, Pete and Mary and their children wrap a cornhusk bundle with feathers and cedar, enclosing the
sacred substances cotton, beads, and tobacco.

This gift is, Pete tells Bill, "for Slick, for his travel from this life among us to another place of being. You and Ida are not
Indian, but it doesn't make any difference. It's for all of us.... You take these sticks and feathers and you put them
somewhere you think you should, someplace important that you think might be good, maybe to change life in a good
way, that you think Slick would be helping us with."

Accompanying the bundle is a dry ear of white corn -- Kasheshi in Keresan -- that is meant to show Bill and Ida that "life
will keep on, your life will keep on.... Slick will be planted again. He'll be like that, like seed planted, like corn seed, the
Indian corn.... You and Ida, your life will grow on." The Kasheshi is placed, lovingly, next to Slick's photograph; eventually
it will be planted in Ida's flourishing garden.

Realizing that the mining company for which he and Pete work is indifferent to the safety of miners, Bill decides to place
the cornhusk bundle in the mine shaft, "down behind a slab of rock," where it will spiritually help to hold up the support
timbers. As Bill secures the bundle he offers a prayer for Slick, who is now identified eternally with the bundle, to help all
of them from the other side.

Even though Slick, like Ida's garden, has failed to thrive and mature, Slick still has the power as a spirit helper to warn
and protect his extended human family on earth. The gift of the corn bundle is reminiscent of the offerings that Fly and
Hummingbird made to Corn Mother long ago. The mining company has profaned sacred space in the underworld, and
when the men emerge on the earth's surface they are seemingly "re-creating" an episode in the Keresan origin story.

Men on the Moon
"Men on the Moon," another short story in Fightin', contrasts Indian and white ways of thinking about technology. In 1969
an old Pueblo man, Faustin, watches the first manned lunar landing on television. He decides that the space program is
senseless and futile: "Faustin wondered if the men had run out of places to look for knowledge on the earth." Ortiz
characteristically parallels a story from oral tradition to the contemporary story: Faustin dreams about a threatening
Skquuyuh mahkina that frightens Anaweh (Flintwing Boy, a Pueblo culture hero) and Tshuski (Coyote). But they repel
the destructive mahkina with corn and arrows. On the basis of this dream, Faustin's family takes heart against the forces
of technology that threaten to destroy the integrity and sanctity of the solar system.

Kaiser and the War
"Kaiser and the War" takes place in Acoma country during the 1940s or 1950s. The story is rife with ambiguity and dark
humor. To avoid being inducted into the army, Kaiser hides out in the hills at sheep camp. The tenderfeet lawmen pursue
him, but Kaiser holds out with assistance from Grandfather Faustin. He finally comes in when he realizes that the
government will not give up on him. Kaiser is put in jail, where he is reduced to a shadow of his former self. Eventually
returning home, Kaiser dies at sheep camp after asking his sister to return to the government a gray suit he had worn
continuously. This cryptic ending to the story, which is told by a boy whose father had been a good friend of Kaiser's,
suggests that the old gray suit that has come to symbolize Kaiser's identity also represents the disintegration of the
American dream.

Hiding West of Here
"Hiding West of Here" is narrated by a nameless Anglo miner. Stumbling upon two Pueblo men performing a ritual at a
rock shrine in the mountains, he is unsure what to look at, what to avoid, or what to think: "I never seen anything like
that." But because he is sensitive to the natural world and open-minded, he is allowed to witness their chants and
prayers at the rock: "it felt like I was part of that prayer that was going on." He is brought into the circle because of his
respectful attitude.

Pennstuwehniyaahtsi: Quuti's Story
"Pennstuwehniyaahtsi: Quuti's Story" is a story within a story. As Santiago and his twelve-year-old grandson, Cholly, walk
from the sheep camp back down to the pueblo, Santiago is reminded of a long walk that his friend Quuti had taken many
years before. Quuti's story is an important lesson for the boy about values, language, and education. The story shifts
into first-person narration as Quuti describes how whites forcibly took him away from home in a wagon and put him on a
train bound for the Carlisle Indian School in Pennsylvania: "They just simply took me. They had a piece of paper on
which was written something that would take me. My grandmother and my father and mother protested but it was of no
avail."

Quuti is given food and cornmeal for protection as he leaves home, but he is expected to eat foreign food using alien
utensils. He intuitively resists the government's attempt to assimilate him, to make him "a good Indian" speaking
"Mericano." Forbidden to speak his Pueblo language, Quuti resorts to talking to cows in the school barn. On turning
fifteen Quuti runs away from the school to return home. As he departs, an Apache friend teaches him a traveling song to
ensure a "good journey" home.

On his long walk from Pennsylvania back to New Mexico, Quuti takes cover in a barn during a snowstorm. Worried about
his stranded cows, the Swedish immigrant farmer tunnels through the snowdrifts into the barn. "And he was so glad to
see they were alright he started to kiss them and hug them and rub their hides to warm them up. And [he was] talking to
them in this strange language."

The farmer discovers Quuti, and the family boards him until spring. Although they do not speak English, Quuti "learned to
speak their language a little, and they learned to speak a little of ours." Later Quuti names his son Yoonson to honor the
Swedish family who had shown him such kindness on his journey home. As the story closes, Santiago remarks that his
grandson is a strong walker and would have been a good companion for Quuti on his walk.

The more than two hundred poems and short narratives in After and Before the Lightning take the form of journal entries
written down during Ortiz's stay on the Lakota Sioux Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota from November 1985 through
March 1986. Two black pages, located after one poem about lightning and before another, represent storms bringing life-
giving rain and blessings; for many Native American cultures, storytelling time occurs in these sacred intervals. The book
is divided into four sections: "The Landscape: Prairie, Time and Galaxy," "Common Trials: Every Day," "Buffalo Dawn
Coming," and "Near and Evident Signs of Spring."

Destination, Seeking
In "Destination, Seeking," in the first section, the poet observes: "Early this morning, the moon glides / into the galaxy that
is my soul. / Everything is huge, dimensions so vast / there is no need to seek significance." He offers a prayer to the
Creator Spirit: "Thank you, Creator Spirit in the trees, in the snowy prairie hills, in today's cloudless sky, in all the little
items of life, and in all the large things. These things are ourselves. Thank you for us every day, every moment, in all
beginnings and endings."

Even box elder bugs, who "wander here and there, mapping journeys as they make them," are beautiful and interesting
to Ortiz, who identifies "with their wanderings." They, like he, "never rest" but are "always fervent with seeking destiny,
always urgent to keep on their journey.... I thank them, their awareness and endurance."
The book ends at the vernal equinox with "Our Eagerness Blooms," which closes:

    How completely we feel the tremoring and shuddering pulse of the land now as we welcome the
    rain-heart-lightning into our trembling yearning selves.

This image is reminiscent of the deer, with arrow lifelines arching from mouth to heart, that is traditionally painted in
outline on Acoma pottery.

In 1994 Ortiz successfully defended the title he had won the year before in the Heavyweight Poetry Championship of the
World in Taos, New Mexico. Asked by Lewis MacAdams about the title, Ortiz modestly replied: "The attention the
championship gives to poetry is very important, but poetry as individualism is a waste of time. I think the real winner
should always be the people and the people's voice." In the fall of that year he joined a dozen other authors at the Native
American Writers Forum, sponsored by the Telluride Institute in Colorado.

In 1995 Ortiz participated in the Seeds of Change Festival, devoted to the role of the artist in creating community in New
Mexico; he also offered a summer workshop, "Mapping the Cosmos: A Native American Perspective," for the Omega
Institute for Holistic Studies in Rhinebeck, New York.

As a grandfather in the 1990s, aware of global concerns, Ortiz has a sense of urgency about supporting indigenous
peoples' causes. And as he contributes toward redefining an image of Pueblo people that will lead them to a positive
identity in the future, no doubt the Shiwana are returning.

Works By Ortiz

    Ortiz, Simon J. Naked in the Wind (Pembroke, N.C.: Quetzal-Vihio, 1971).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Going for the Rain (New York: Harper & Row, 1976).
    Ortiz, Simon J. A Good Journey (Berkeley, Cal.: Turtle Island, 1977).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Howbah Indians (Tucson, Ariz.: Blue Moon, 1978).
    Ortiz, Simon J. The People Shall Continue (San Francisco: Children's Book Press, 1978; revised, 1988).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Song, Poetry and Language: Expression and Perception (Tsaile, Ariz.: Navajo Community College
    Press, 1978).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Fight Back: For the Sake of the People, for the Sake of the Land (Albuquerque: University of New
    Mexico Press, 1980).
    Ortiz, Simon J. From Sand Creek (New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1981).
    Ortiz, Simon J. A Poem Is a Journey (Bourbonnais, Ill: Pteranodon, 1981).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Blue and Red (Acoma, N.Mex.: Acoma Childhood Development Program, 1982).
    Ortiz, Simon J. The Importance of Childhood (Acoma, N.Mex.: Acoma Childhood Development Program, 1982).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Fightin': New and Collected Stories (New York: Thunder's Mouth, 1983).
    Ortiz, Simon J. Woven Stone (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1991).
    Ortiz, Simon J. After and Before the Lightning, Sun Tracks, volume 28 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994).
    Edition
    Ortiz, Simon J. A Good Journey (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1984).

References

de Ramirez. Simon J. Ortiz: A Poetic Legacy of Indigenous Continuance. 2009.

Hobson, G. The Remembered Earth: An Anthology of Contemporary Native American Literature. 1981.

The Worlds Best Poetry: Supplement IV (Minority Poetry of America; An Anthology of Asian, Black, Hispanic and Native
American Poetry. Roth Publishing. 1986.
Video of Simon J. Ortiz talks about the most common
question people ask him. Ortiz talks about the most
common question.
Simon J. Ortiz Going For the Rain
Simon J. Ortiz
Going For the Rain
Simon j. Ortiz Fightin'
Simon j. Ortiz Fightin'
Simon J. Ortiz
Acoma Pueblo
Simon Ortiz reads poems and sings songs
from several books and manuscripts,
including his books From Sand Creek, Going
for the Rain, and Big Mountain: The People
and Land Are Sacred.