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Margo Tamez (Nde')   margo tamez poet

"I go through the window opening after opening

Memory buried upon memory    that's how this appears

Skins  burst    unseam    and inside these is me

A skinny dark girl with a dark brain and a dark mind

Seeking the deja-vu    Zone of Time Flow

Outside of fear...

O no one  can see me  or see what is invasion

Follow me and flows in my blood through decades...

O settlers of the empire

O land thieves

O scalpers of my grandfathers

O slave traders of my grandmothers

Books    stand like enemies

Rapists   who'll conspire to kill me"

(excerpt from "Addiction to the Dead", Raven Eye, University of Arizona Press 2007: 26-30).  Nominated by the U. of AZ press for the Pulitzer Prize; Winner of the Cather Award.


PhD  American Studies (Washington State University, 2010) 

Foci: Poetry & Indigenous poetics; Indigenous visual aesthetic & theory; Indigenous historical consciousness, oral history, memory, time); Indigenous decolonization & revitalization; Indigenous women & violence; Indigenous ways of knowing, doing, being; Indigenous pedagogies.

M.F.A. Poetry (Arizona State University)

B.A. Art History (UT Austin); B.A. Archaeological Studies (UT Austin)



Assistant Professor, Indigenous Studies Program

Community, Culture and Global Studies Department (Unit 1)
Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences
University of British Columbia | Okanagan
ART269,  1147 Research Road
Kelowna, BC  Canada  V1V 1V7

Okanagan Nation Unceded Territory


Phone: 1-250-807-9837


    "They took the land  //  but they will never take my voice"     Margo Tamez (above) is a Nde' (Lipan Apache) poet and scholar enacting legal testimony at the Inter-American Commission/Organization of American States on behalf of Nde' peoples' fight against U.S. dispossession in 2009. "Nde' oral tradition, song, and land-based experiences have shaped my experimentation with poetic forms. Poetic voice and performance is a tool, a means, through which the oppressed and subjugated Nde' peoples have historically articulated the knowledge of our being, existence, arts, laws, governance, and independence as the original free peoples of Nigusdzan (Earth is Woman).  I work to indigenize the traditional 'American long poem' form, as another mode to enact Indigenous critical poetics, thus, to appropriate an Euro-American tradition in order to occupy a space to enact discursive speech to confront settler coloniality in law and related civilizational practices.  Contemporary Indigenous poetics is one of many modes in which Nde' poetics sustains firm pressure upon history and colonial processes.  Indigenous historical clarification, truth, and memory of genocidal processes are interrogated in Nde' memory. This is necessary in order to recover and revitalize Nde' practices.  Indigenous research expressed and embodied through my poetic and visual practices closely examines violence and Indigenous anti-genocidal practices in the Texas-Mexico region across nineteen generations. I'm especially interested in the intimate relational spheres of Nde', Nahua, Jumano, Tlaxcaltecan, Kiowa, Tonkawa and Comanche extended kinship of and from Nde' Konitsaaii Gokiyaa (Lipan Apache Big Water Peoples' Country)."

  • The Border Wall, Public-serving, Interdisciplinary research "With, by, for and alongside Indigenous Peoples," Respect, Responsibility, and Social Identity:   Margo Tamez (Nde konitsaaii, Big Water People, Lipan Apache Band of Texas) is not only a Nde' poet, visual artist, historian, and essayist.  She is also a feminist activist, traditional knowledge keeper, Indigenous rights defender, and continuing learner. She continues to bring critical evidence and global attention--in U.S. federal court, at the United Nations, and in the Inter-American Commission/Organization of American States--to the violent impacts of the U.S. border wall.   Her exploration and study of Nde' survival and identity is closely aligned with aspirations of Nde' traditional knowledge keepers, elders, and community members in unceded Indigenous Peoples' lands along the Texas-Mexico border. 


    Margo Tamez (in pink) conducts Indigenous, community-based research in El Calaboz, a Nde' rancheria along the Rio Grande River, directly impacted by the U.S. border wall and militarization.  The gulag-style wall bifurcates the Nde' traditional territory for 70+ miles, with extensive effects on Indigenous peoples' rights to Indigenous place, governance, identity, culture, institutions, knowledge systems, language, biodiversity, and recovery.  This work is carried out with and alongside Nde' elders, elected leaders, community members, film documentarians, and students from the School of Law--Human Rights Clinic (University of Texas at Austin).

    These and related topics of historical and archaeological significance are the subjects of her interdisciplinary inquiry in a militarized Indigenous place.



Nde' Peoples' unceded places and settler constructions of the Texas-Mexico border, ca. 1910 Photo #076-1021. Ca 1910. Courtesy of the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures.  Americans and Texans created a core myth, as iterated by former president George W. Bush, "ain't no Indians in Texas."  This notion purports and advances the American ideology of private property, and its normalization in all western institutions which enforces the en masse denial of the cognitive dissonance of the substantial presence of Indigenous peoples aboriginal to Texas.  In Bush's dictum, private property trumps indigeneity, or in other words, individual land title over-rides collective rights of Indigenous peoples who never surrendered their nationhood or sovereignty to western European monarchs, and their successor states.'

Indigenous peoples' rejection of the settler colonial paradigm of memory and consciousness underscores all my work.  In Indigenous peoples' continuing existence and resistance to subjugation beneath settler nations and states along the Texas-Mexico border, and Rio Grande River of the Lower Rio Grande Valley, Indigenous women and their families underwent radical changes under extremely harsh conditions.  There is the problem of a context of converging colonialisms: church, settlers, republic, state, and nation. 

Occupying peoples often used photography as a tool of colonization and expropriation, in a similar way they used maps, laws, and other civilizational metrics to dispossess Indigenous peoples in the development of settler ecologies and economies, land-scapes, and trans-national industrial spheres and in these modes, settlers worked ardently to erase the Indigenous presence.  This period of photography lends itself to my inquiry into the complex processes of dispossession, assimilation, and appropriating the Native, as this photo, taken in Nde' territory (at the banks of the Rio Grande where Tamaulipas, Coahuila, and Texas all touch the water) evidences in striking, visual ways. 

Texas-Mexico bordered region continued to be an unincorporated and ambiguous area of the Euro-American modernizing project, and became a 'zone' of competition between settler Texans in economic competition in world systems of cattle, oil, and textiles. The desires of special interest groups in Mexico, Canada and U.S. strongly shaped settler occupations.

In the first two decades of the 20th century, the region's settler populations became invested in (re)defining white settler space and place against the deeply rooted persistence of resilient and refusing Indigenous peoples.  Indigenous continued struggle to defend homelands was continually under threat. Photography was an important tool for representing the habitual overtaking of Nde' space through representation of white bodies, whitened space, white penetration, and white encroachments into Indigenous women's intimate places, always under the scrutinizing lens of land speculators. 

A territory still heavily contested by Mexico, Texas and the U.S.--and yet, culturally and socially, deeply misunderstood, this inquiry offers alternative  theories and ways to interrogate visual and literary records in order to (re)define, and re-search into Nde' historical context and presence in time.

How does this photograph situate elite political and industrial ambitions, and at what cost to Indigenous peoples, specifically women, in the unequal power relations imposed which subjugated the negotiation of places and spaces of tremendous significance to Indigenous peoples?  The inherent rights of Indigenous women in Nde' unceded territory, as history evidences, were never afforded the serious attention they merited. These concerns linger today, and underpin my critical inquiry into hidden genocidal violence in the dispossession of Nde' peoples.

Viewed as a homeland, Indigenous peoples' continued processes of displacement, refusing dispossession and being forced to assimilate into the under-class was largely obscured by the euro-centric biases embedded within the state's historical construction of 'Texas', 'Mexico', and the quintessential narratives of  'American' life and progress. However, new critical research approaches are changing how we understand historical processes and the relationship of the past to the present with regard to Indigenous peoples' claims and demands for recognition.

Indigenous peoples' struggles against pernicious forms of erasure and death have been largely ignored, until now.  In this photo, Indigenous women protecting their gowa gokal (home spaces) in the Nde' unceded territory are 'visited' by white settlers with a camera who are posing for the lens.  The stark differences between the lives of white women and Indigenous women in the Lower Rio Grande valley during the 1910-1915 period of en masse genocidal violence, a subject extremely hidden and under-studied, is a core area of research M. Tamez is undertaking. 



  • INDG 203:  Indigenous Peoples' Historical Perspectives
  • INDG 302:  Indigenous Governance
  • INDG 304:  Indigenous Studies Field Methods (Pre-Engagement Strategies)
  • INDG 305:  Indigenous Justice
  • INDG 310:  Indigenous Women's Perspectives: Gender, Nation, State, Resistance
  • INDG 450:  Indigenous Women, Activisms, Feminisms
  • INDG 481:  Directed Studies:  (Topics have included Syilx women's history; Kainai frameworks for decolonizing secondary education;      Comparative Oral histories of Ukrainian and Okanagan women; Digital 'me search', settler identity, and decolonization.)  
  • GWST 110: Introduction to Women's Studies
  • GWST 395:  Gender and Women's Studies Special Topic
  • GWST 495F:  Gender and Women's Studies Advanced Special Topic

Graduate Directed Studies

  • IGS 503C/IGS 523C:  Indigenous Methodologies
  • IGS 503 H:  Indigenous Research Methods: Indigenous Community Practices
  • IGS 503 I:  Indigenous Research Methods: Indigenous Tattoos and Family Histories
  • IGS 503Z:  Readings in Indigenous Theory & Methods
  • IGS 523N:  Indigenous Theory & Praxis Seminar. Topic: Indigenous Recognition, Genocide, and Decolonial Futures



Raven Eye (University of Arizona Press, 2007)

Naked Wanting (University of Arizona Press, 2003)

raveneye        nakedwanting

Journals and Chapters (samples...)

mtamez-journals1   mtamez-journals2    mtamez-journals3    mtamez-journals4


mtamez-journals5  mtamez-journals6  mtamez-journals7        mtamez-journals8



Last reviewed shim1/22/2016 2:55:24 PM