top of page
Screen Shot 2021-10-13 at 10.49.09 AM.png


Lois Red Elk


For myself

This day, I adorn braided

sweet grass earrings handed

down from Mother’s Santee

rings of aromatic medicine.


From the ancestor lands of

Father’s Lakota family, I fill

pockets with handfuls of

cedar, my protective shield.


Into this circle of morning

spirit food, a prayer surfaces

from the Southern recess of

primal night-dwelling dreams.


I thank the Western powers,

where a mirror reflects

images of the ones I trust—

transparent photos of the


Mitakuyepi, floating in

frames of red and yellow

buffalo grass, thundering in

a structure of immortality.


To my ancestors’ Northern

power, my garden awaits

the first sound of thunder, I

meditate a promise of sage,


the offering to be burned,

waving away harmful spirits.

To the East where all our

ceremonies approach the


carved pipestone, I extol

all the waiting visible spirits,

“Thank you for this rising,

this keep that cradles me.”


(Santee: Eastern branch of the great Sioux Nation)



Mother's Water

it is always the water first

      trickling down mature legs

coming from an interior source

      where mist inhabits stomach caves

where a pool collects all droplets

      upon the arrival of the first blood

where ache signals the flow and

      Mother Earth in her longing

to keep creation a learned ritual

       propels the human river to live

where her streams are my arteries

       her veins set off my streams

her rivers are my amniotic flow

      Earth’s possession, her ancient body,

renews self in my flooding moon

      against the moisture of the womb

where she shared her cradle, became

      my womb, my place in cosmos,

in creation, together they passed on

      the power of conception, of birthing

life again with the permission of

Mother’s all sacred flowing waters



Dragonfly Weather

This Earth has always belonged to those who love her and

recognize her as the revered elder of motion. Maka Unci

(Grandmother Earth) and Maka Ina (Mother Earth) we have


called her. The Dreams that were sent to our beloved

ancestors told us to Makoce wayanka (view the land) as

our flesh, and follow her example, guide the life of all those


who birthed our blood, winter after winter throughout all

time. Our people remember the grandeur of our creation

songs, when the Divine gave us rock, the winds, water, the


beings of the earth, and the beautiful flowers of plants.

We named them Inyan, Tate, Mini, Wamakaskan, and

maka etanhan taku icaga. We knew we were related to


everything, because we are all made of the same that is of

earth. In our visits with all earthly things we learned to

love all that was given to us. The earth and all her living


creations never lied to us. We learned to trust her and all

her relatives, the sky, the moon, sun and stars, and we

recognized them as the relatives above. The four-legged, the


beings that fly, and all the beings that live with water spoke

the same language as our own. They helped us through

the seasons, gave our bodies energy, and spoke to us about


the spirits that dwell in all of us and in creation. Long ago

the D/Lakota wisdom instructed us to share. Share food,

share wealth, share responsibility, share the earth, share


the connection to the animals, share the beauty of prayer,

and share the teachings. This is the time—the season when

all seems lost—to pick up your heart, and give it to the Great


Mystery. The rotation of our star, the plants, and the animal

messengers all believe in the Great Mystery. Pick up the

culture and the wise stories for our safety, enlightenment


and health. Who will we listen to? Pick a season and the

plants and animals will choose you. The wolf teaches about

family, the bear teaches medicine, the turtle teaches us to


care for the children, and the dragonfly teaches us to be

swift in worth. This is the season, the time of dragonflies,

when we need to leave harm, make swift decisions, escape


quickly to the good world, when our star is aligned with

sun, when plants and water incubate beginnings of being,

of wings, for earth life. When the earth, through female


water, births the messenger of the necessary, the need to

find value, the essence of your being will open the heart

   to the new season. This is Dragonfly weather.

-from Dragonfly Weather (Lost Horse Press 2013), selected by Fall 2021 Guest Editor, CMarie Fuhrman 

Lois Red Elk is an enrolled member of the Ft. Peck Sioux in Montana, with roots from the Isanti on her mother’s side, and the Hunkpapa and Ihanktonwa from her father, who is descended from the Sitting Bull family. Raised in her traditional culture, she is a quill and bead worker, a traditional dancer and an advocate for cultural preservation and practice.
Her poems, prose, and children’s stories have been published in many magazines and anthologies. Her first book, Our Blood Remembers (Many Voices Press, 2011) won the Best Non-Fiction award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. Her latest book is Dragonfly Weather (Lost Horse Press, 2013).


Victoria Chang


Victoria Chang

bottom of page