Tansi, my name is Mercedez Tate* and I’m a 17-year-old Plains Cree woman from Poundmaker Cree Nation, Sask, on Treaty 6 territory.
I’ve always had a strong bond with words, especially writing and singing. I often felt unheard during my childhood so writing really helped me to find my voice and use it for others who are still finding theirs.
I focus mainly on social commentaries as well as descriptive and narrative poems, in relation to struggles and inequalities that we, as Native people, have been confronted with. The two poems you are about to read highlight intergenerational trauma, life on the reserve; as well as missing and murdered indigenous women and girls. Three topics we can all relate to, even if we don’t know it yet. Thank you for reading.
Where the Wild Kids Are By: Mercedez Tate – Asinīy Iskwew There’s a place just down the road Hidden deep within the hills A place without adults, just babies having kids Imbued with all the maybes that this world could ever offer A village that vanishes in the valleys, where the wild kids wander There’s a tiny tone of tension that circles over head That feeling of unfairness when we crawl into our beds A place with lacking resources, not enough luck to go around It’s a place that is my home, where the wild kids are found. But without those inequalities, the Rez wouldn’t be the Rez It wouldn’t house the kids that become the greatest friends We wouldn’t have our stories to share and laugh about The Rez is my favourite place, I could never be without It’s where us wild kids can be, just that Unapologetically.
Have you Seen My Sister? By: Mercedez Tate – Asinīy Iskwew You there, have you seen my sister? Her skin is like she’d been steeped in Red Rose tea Her long black hair is usually bound by braids, She’s about 5’4”-5’6” just a little taller than me She looks like a painting within a painting Her body is abundant with artistry Her cheekbones sit high above the rest of her chiseled face, You’d know her if you saw her Have you seen my sister? No one will help me look, She goes by Nitisaniskwew, and Nikawiy to her son How do I tell my nephew we couldn’t find his mom? Excuse me officer, did you not hear what I said? My sister has been missing, I can’t help but think she’s — One morning she was here, that night she was no longer If you could hear her sing, her song would now be somber Have you seen my sister? She’s a human much like you Her hair is not blonde and her eyes are not blue But her homecoming is well overdue
*Editor’s note: The poems of Mercedez Tate were brought to my attention by her writing mentor, Rick Revelle, who is the author of the Algonquin Quest series of novels about Indigenous life in North America, pre-contact. The fourth and final installment, Algonquin Legacy, has just been released by Crossfield Publishing.
Update on Mercedez: UCHS student Mercedez Tate has had two poems published – SaskToday.ca