Margo Tamez (Nde')
As a Nde' academic, my first responsibility is to honor and to enact Nde' intellectual and philosophical traditions, and to position Nde' thought, lenses, and spirit at the centre of inquiry.
The reconstruction of the Nde' gowa gozhoo gokal, 'her beautiful house of law', has been central to my active engagement in poetics, law, philosophy, feminism, and praxis as embodied and enacted in my teaching, scholarship, and service. To accomplish my goals to centre Nde' lenses as a Nde' researcher, I found it necessary to research, construct, paint, and co-create the Nde' gowa gozhoo gokal in the Syilx territory--a 3 year protocol and relationship building process undertaken with Syilx Native Title holders in the Nk'malpqs community. This, and related activities, is inherent to my founding of Critical Nde' Studies in the Unceded Okanagan Territory, British Columbia, Canada. This makes complete sense to me today, as Nde' being, belonging, and consciousness and worlds transcend the borders of Canada, the US and Mexico. The Okanagan is a 'central' location for re-situating and re-positioning critical decolonial inquiry into the decolonization, revitalization, and indigeneity of Nde' epistemic systems, crisis, and recovery.
My work employs poetics, law, historical lenses, and creative approaches to examine the ways Nde' Peoples refuted and continue to refuse imperialist, colonialist, and settler cognitive epistemic domination. Nde' peoples, in addition to a rich tradition of philosophy, arts, language, law, governance, and environmental stewardship and custodianship, are experts in the arts of defense against violence.
My work examines these dimensions of Nde' holism in order to understand why, how, where, and to what extent Nde' have aspired are are still compelled to reject assimilative processes whilst remaining in the customary Nde' homelands.
As a matrilineal community with many adaptations a locally relevant, complimentary gender expression and organization, Nde' isdzane (women) are core to my exploration and journey in recovering Nde' oral tradition, and (re)valorizing the oral history of Nde', Comanche, Nahua, Tlaxcaltecan, Kiowa, and Karankawa water-land-sky co-governance, and to empower Nde' kinship relationships. This is addressing a significant absence in knowledge (tied to destructive processes, such as, but not limited to genocide).
My work identifies and addresses the significant barriers to Nde' (Lipan Apache Peoples) epistemolgical, ontological, methodological, and axiological recovery from inter-generational trauma underpinned by racism, discrimination, gender oppression, homophobia, militarism, nativism, and both Anglo and Hispano nationalist domination.
As a Nde' member of the academy, my contributions focus on opening, inviting, and constructing relevant spaces for respectful relationships with Nde' and relative Indigenous research communities who are Aboriginal to lands undergoing re-militarization vis-a-vis US border wall construction.
I believe my work critically addresses the vision of the revolutionary, Louis Riel, who stated: "people will sleep for 100 years, but when they awake, it will be the artists who give them their spirit back."
"O land thieves
O scalpers of my grandfathers
O slave traders of my grandmothers
Their books stand like enemies
Rapists who'll conspire to kill us"
(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
"They took the land // but they will never take my voice" Margo Tamez (above) is a Nde' (Lipan Apache) poet, historian, and scholar enacting legal testimony at the Inter-American Commission/Organization of American States on behalf of Nde' peoples' resistance against U.S. armed and enforced border-wall dispossession in 2009 along the Lower Rio Grande River rancheria (pueblo/village) of El Calaboz on the Texas-Mexico border. "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 conducts Indigenous, community-based field research in El Calaboz, a Nde' rancheria along the Lower Rio Grande River, directly impacted by the U.S. border wall aggression imposed by the state through armed force and regional militarization. Now well documented by Tamez and critical legal scholar-collaborators, the US gulag-style wall, situated a mile inland from the physical border, currently bifurcates the Nde' traditional territory for 70+ miles. With UT Austin School of Law legal team, Tamez documented and has provided testimony on the deep impacts to the Nde' and related Indigenous communities. The extensive effects on Indigenous peoples' rights to place, property, self-governance, identity, culture, institutions, knowledge systems, language, biodiversity, and recovery is on-going. Tamez carries out this work with and alongside Nde' elders, elected Lipan Apache Band leaders, community members, film documentarians, students from the School of Law--Human Rights Clinic (University of Texas at Austin) and four UBC Okanagan research assistants.
These and related topics of historical and archaeological significance are the subjects of her interdisciplinary inquiry in a militarized Indigenous place spanning five centuries. She is currently writing a monograph, a poetry collection, and a co-edited volume of testimonies and art work by the Nde' Peoples of the Lower Rio Grande.
Case Study: Nde' Peoples' unceded River Peoples' lands and settler constructions of the homeland as a 'border', ca. 1910. Photo #076-1021. Ca 1910. Courtesy of the University of Texas Institute of Texan Cultures.
In the early stage of the American construction of a border, vis-a-vis militarization of the Indigenous communities along the Lower Rio Grande River, the Americans and settler Texans constructed a core myth of Euro-American conquest predicated upon the legalistic erasure of Indigenous kinship structures and core governance systems. It wasn't that Indigenous peoples physically left the region, or that family-land based practices just suddenly came to a halt. The cult of the 'vanishing' and 'disappearing' discourse, emanating from settler anxieties, instilled practices which led to thought and practices which diminished Indigenous rights. Indigenous peoples persisted and adapted to radical changes nonetheless. In the process, the occupying groups' institutionalized legal systems normalized the denial that Indigenous Native Title did not exist. However, there is no record or 'bill of sale' that settler governments extinguished Native Title, and Nde' peoples continue to resist this distorted lens of Nde' legal history. Settler epistemic violence institutionalized broadly which denies Indigenous peoples' access to justice, therefore, is the foundation for former president George W. Bush's claims that 'legally' speaking according to settler colonial rule, there "ain't no Indians in Texas." This notion purports and advances the American construct of private property as somehow neutral from the genocidal processes and institutions which underpinned land theft.
Examining history through the lenses of Indigenous peoples affords students and researchers the opportunity to examine Nde' legal traditions, treaties, Spanish Crown grants, and current-day political processes. This area of study affords them important lenses for deconstructing social conflict, and to engage the en masse denial, and cognitive dissonance surrounding the substantial presence of diverse Indigenous peoples who are Aboriginal to southern Texas. Students learn the importance of understanding Indigenous property and law concepts based in the North American Indigenous Treaty Order, and to engage the processes through which European concepts of private property, indenture, and debt aggress upon Indigenous systems of relationship-based policy and governance. The Indigenous historical approach is a crucial core competency for students seeking to pursue law, policy, and public-service in which the current day conflicts between collective rights of Indigenous peoples who did not surrender nor subjugate their nationhood beneath western European monarchs, and/or their successor states is a key issue at stake in resolving land claims.
Indigenous peoples' rejection of the settler colonial paradigm of knowledge, memory and consciousness underscores all my work involving peace, resolution, and transformation. 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 295: Indigenous Poetics, Voice, Vision
- INDG 100: Introduction to Indigenous Studies
- 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)
Journals and Chapters (samples...)
Last reviewed 3/26/2017 6:02:23 PM