Introducing: Mercedez Tate, Indigenous Poet

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 
Mercedez Tate

*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.

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