|more from her artistic heritage than from the study of anthropology.
Rose, as Indian woman anthropologist and poet, addresses the diverse confrontations of direct
personal, professional, and tribal importance as she engages the more universal problems of
fragmentation versus healing unity of her (and our) world.
In the preface to Going to War with All My Relations (1993), Rose writes that "the `war' is everyone's
war ... [and that] our `Relations' are each other, all that is alive, with the awareness that life is
everywhere." Much of her poetry is a series of engagements in that war, wherein she fights the
fragmentation and, through her art, attempts to recreate unity and wholeness.
Many of her poems describe her sometimes uncomfortable role as anthropologist who, because she
is Native American, was sometimes at first regarded with suspicion; other poems deal with the
"academic squaw" syndrome, a term she uses ironically, of course, saying in a footnote that she
would never use such a derogatory word except in ironic opposition to white usage that identifies a
role almost thrust on her. She also fights the racism inherent in the habit of relegating all things Indian
to anthropology, thus denying the aesthetic values of Indian literary art so important to her.
Other related poems focus on the desecration of graves of Native Americans and the subsequent
dehumanizing of them as archaeological specimens, reduced to what she calls invoiced "ethno-data,"
or, even worse, the commercial marketing of skeletons (skulls especially) as artifacts to collectors.
However, the movement in her poems is typically toward perceptions of identify and a healing unity.
The first part of "Three Thousand Dollar Death Song," for instance, is filled with images of
depersonalization, of once living beings "smattered into traces of rubble." By contrast, in the second
half of the poem artifacts are imagined as rising like bears and marching together out of the museum
door as "our bones rise to meet them," creating a scene reminiscent of the ghost dance days.
Other of Rose's poems engage personal and ethnic identity and her own creativity.
Many of these poems are filled with images of mountain, rabbit, corn pollen, many-colored winds, and
summer storms. However, the matrix from which she flakes the words, as she says in one poem, can
be the modern city itself. In the poem "The Urban Child Listens" the storyteller, modern and urban,
feels the need to preserve the culture through oral tales. In the absence of images of "corn-tassels,"
"sheep-fat candles," "silver spider web," and "thunderhead," she must pass on the stories to the
children even in the midst of traffic noise and city buildings because "Coyote speeds through our lives
Although many of Rose's poems are polemic or militant, some of her poems are more mellow. In the
short poem "Summer Evenings in Tucson Remembered," a sense of being is shaped in childhood like
loaves of bread, round and brown. Still other poems of wholeness are restorations of identification
with "her people," some of whom she knows but some of whom are mythic recreations of personal
tribal experiences such as the title poem to Hopi Roadrunner Dancing or the "Happy Child Poem" from
that same volume.
Rose's later poems have become less strictly Indian and more global. In the 1982 interview with Carol
Hunter she stated "one thing ... seems to be happening not just in my work, but in the work of a lot of
people all at once, especially Indian people. Many of us are acknowledging and identifying with a
world-wide perspective, identifying with the struggle of indigenous people the world over.... My work
has become larger than Hopi or even Indian, too, and I've begun writing about El Salvador, about the
Jewish holocaust, about the exploitation of `circus freaks,' and so on. I've called this ... work The
The 1960s and 1970s saw major political movements among Native Americans. One of the most
visible actions was the protracted occupation of Alcatraz Island, once the site of a federal penitentiary,
by Indians from many tribes seeking to create a new community and awaken the consciousness of
fellow citizens. Rose's first collection, Hopi Roadrunner Dancing (1973), includes several poems
alluding to this event. "Oh My People I Remember," for instance, describes the gathering on the island
as the fulfillment of a sacred dream vision.
Other poems in this volume reflect Rose's ongoing search for personal, cultural, and ethnic identity.
"Oh Father" is dedicated to her father and ends with the question "oh father, who am I?" Another
poem, "Newborn Woman, May 7, 1948," re-creates the birth experience of a strong, vocal girl child
into an "already alien world."
These early poems articulate the pervasive theme of the quest for, and creation of, an identity that is
reimagined and made whole from the shards of a shattered, withheld heritage. One element of this
self-creation has been Rose's adoption of names she has devised for herself. Some of her earliest
poems, published in anthologies, were printed under the name Chiron Khanshendel; she adopted
Chiron as an expression of her love of horses and fascination with the mythical centaur and
Khanshendel as a name purely of her own invention. Yet another element in her life as a young adult
was a short-lived relationship with a man whose last name, Rose, she adopted for the sake of
convention. She has continued using this name, together with the diminutive of her birth name, both
personally and professionally.
Long Division: A Tribal History (1976), Rose's second volume of poems, is dedicated to Arthur
Murata, a magician and judo expert, whom she married in 1976. The subject matter in this brief
collection marks an important transition in the poet's maturing work: from the contained descriptive
mode or emotional self-absorption that characterized the previous volume to social criticism, irony,
and moral witness.
Rose's research and teaching have emphasized cultural anthropology, and early in her career she
developed a sense of dual vision as both scientist and the object of the scientist's study. In "The
Anthropology Convention," for example, the speaker appropriates the authoritative position on behalf
of the "object of investigation" by reminding the reader "O we are / the Natives." Another poem,
"Mission Bells," introduces a characteristic structure of Rose's poems. Two epigraphs taken from
accounts of early California missions open the work; one of these passages makes a racist statement
about California Indians. The body of the poem then speaks for others who refuse to be silenced: "we
poets ... sing here / in the Mission" despite persecution and misunderstanding.
The title of Rose's third book, Academic Squaw: Reports to the World from the Ivory Tower (1977),
announces the duality of scholar and subject as a major theme. One of the poems frequently
reprinted from the collection is an untitled piece that begins "I expected my skin and my blood to
A brief epigraph opens the poem; the note is taken from an auction catalogue and gives the prices of
items stolen from the bodies of Lakota men, women, and children massacred in 1890 at Wounded
Knee, South Dakota. The speaker of the poetic text that follows is one of the murdered women, who
recalls with chilling understatement what it was like to see her infant taken away and bayoneted and
then for herself to be killed, stripped, and dismembered. This poem continues the method introduced
in "Mission Bells" and complicates the dialogue with the introduction of the specific persona whose
response to the voice of authority forms the body of the poem.
"Three Thousand Dollar Death Song," another early example of this format, offers an initial
amorphous voice responding to a valuation of American Indian skeletons. The speaker begins by
addressing the invoicer: "You: who have / priced us." The ending of the poem, however, moves
beyond the particular dialogue to a vision of resurrection and reanimation in which the collections of
bones, artifacts, and even horses awaken and reconstitute the vanished world. The ultimate price for
all this purloined universe will finally be paid in "woodpecker scalp, turquoise / and copper, blood and
oil, coal / and uranium."
The poem is reminiscent of the visionary prophecies in the old Ghost Dance religion. The idea of
creation through dreaming recurs in many of Rose's poems, both in the sense of a whole universe
dreamed into being and as the work of an individual's envisioning-creating herself through the dream
While publishing her poems and illustrating her own books and those of others, Rose was also
committed to academic course work and research. One project was a monograph titled Aboriginal
Tattooing in California (1979), published by the University of California, Berkeley. Another major
scholarly endeavor undertaken at this time was a bibliography of works written by indigenous authors
of the Americas. This massive compilation has not been published in its entirety, although Rose has
generously shared parts of it with other researchers working on bibliographical projects in Native
With publication of Lost Copper (1980), Rose's first retrospective collection, it became possible to
identify important themes that pervade all of her work. One of these major themes is identification with
the earth, strongly evoked by the "Frontispoem" to the volume. The persona tells of tending fields with
a bone-handled spade and remarks how the dust remains on her hands.
Eventually the persona describes rolling like a horse on the earth, seeking to "grow from the ground
that bears me." Such communion with the earth is actually a rite undertaken by some tribal peoples to
emphasize and reconstitute their relationship to the earth through the specific site of their birth; in
Rose's poem the persona verbally performs the rite that is physically enacted in traditional settings.
Many poems in Lost Copper include such expressions of oneness with, and love of, the earth.
Other poems in the collection honor individuals who have inspired or made an impact on the poet.
Four poems addressed to poet Ron Tanaka dwell on the poet's integrity in the face of adverse
reception; two of them compare Tanaka's poems with netsuke, a traditional Japanese art form of
exquisite miniature carvings. "Magic Arthur," a lyrical love poem, addresses the poet's husband. The
magic of the encounter collapses time and eases sharp memories that are figured as an "Iron
Maiden," the sharp edges of which the magician is able "to patiently file ... down"; a note further
explains that the iron maiden is really a stage device, suggesting the power of love to create a new
reality that can neutralize old pain.
"For Mabel: Pomo basketmaster and doctor" is a brief song dedicated to Mabel McKay, a Pomo
healer and artist. The poem celebrates Mabel's powers in the natural world and alludes to the artistry
of Pomo baskets woven with the finest of stitches and incorporating "tiny feathers, / tan and red."
Lost Copper also continues the negotiation between conflicting worlds that is so crucial to the poet's
self-identification. Another variant on the dialogue form is "Apology and Flight," in which the persona
speaks as an archaeologist who has seen machinery dig up a woman's bones. Sorrow at disturbing
the woman's final rest mingles with outrage at the destruction of the landscape. Ultimately the persona
identifies with the skeletal woman -- "it was I found by you" -- and asks a blessing. "Dancing with the
New Kachina: Worm Song" demonstrates Rose's approach to her Hopi connections. Kachinas are
supernatural beings associated with elements of the Hopi universe such as ancestors, clouds,
animals, and birds; they are embodied by dancers during certain ceremonies and are figured in
carved wooden statuettes prized by art collectors.
Rose's invention of a new kachina bespeaks a felt need for spiritual power and guidance in a
condition for which the tradition does not explicitly provide. The persona asks for "a kachina / for
people like me / whose songs are too late / to be kiva-whipped, / too wild yet to be Ph.D.'d." The
feeling of marginalization is acute, yet the self-described "semi-squaw" affirms tradition while offering
the possibility of creative reshaping of tradition to embrace new conditions in a changing world.
Builder Kachina: A Home-Going Cycle (1979), a twelve-page chapbook comprising four poems, is
included in its entirety in Lost Copper. This short series of poems explores another pervasive theme
in Rose's poetry: her search for ancestry, roots, and family connection. The trip commemorated in
these verses was Rose's second pilgrimage to her father's Hopi village, as the title page proclaims:
"Journey from the land of my mother in California to the land of my father in Arizona, August, 1977";
each poem is identified with a point on the itinerary from the San Joaquin Valley, California, to the
Hopi village of Hotevilla, Arizona.
The builder kachina of the title is Rose's creation, a figure that appears to be one possible answer to
the need expressed in "Dancing with the New Kachina." A builder kachina will embody life-affirming
creative potential; such a figure suggests the spirit guides sought by many tribal peoples in visionary
experience. In the last poem of the series, "Builder Kachina: Going Home," the persona bears witness
to the presence of the kachina, "invisible / yet touching me all over."
In 1983 Rose took a permanent position with the American Indian Studies Program at Fresno City
College in Fresno, California; she is director of the program, in which she initiates and teaches a
broad range of courses relating to American Indian life and culture. She lives with her husband in the
foothills of the Sierra Nevada, near Yosemite National Park and overlooking the San Joaquin Valley.
The location of her home, neither mountain nor valley but part of both, echoes Rose's ongoing
preoccupation with existence between worlds, between cultures, between established definitions. It is
important to her to live in a rural area, in close connection with the natural cycle of the seasons.
Another expression of her identification with the earth is in her plant and reptile collections. As early
as her first publication Rose described herself as an "amateur herpetologist," and her home includes
a garage converted into a greenhouse that contains her extensive collection of euphorbias, cacti, and
other tropical plants as well as several rare lizards. In her ongoing negotiation of her multifaceted
identity Rose consciously invokes closeness to the earth in both personal and cultural terms. She
recalls as an important moment her father's telling her that she must find and set down her roots not
in institutions but in the earth itself; this advice had come in answer to Rose's questioning of her
anomalous relation to matrilineal Hopi society. After her move to the San Joaquin Valley, she sought
counsel from tribal elders and healers in the rancherias of the area: identity and character, healing
and growth, in her view, spring from the land and the spirituality that evolves within a given place, as
well as from generational ties.
Four volumes of poems have been published since Rose's move to the San Joaquin Valley. What
Happened When the Hopi Hit New York (1982) can be seen as part of an ongoing conversation with
Maurice Kenny, a Mohawk poet based in rural New York. The unique character of various landscapes
is a strong theme throughout the collection. Several poems describe landscapes as seen from
airplanes or on brief stopovers -- Alaska, Denver, Iowa City, New Orleans -- and other poems center
on the urban scene of Brooklyn. "Subway Graffiti, An Anthropologist's Impressions" incorporates the
cryptic messages scrawled on subway surfaces and offers a personal view of the speaker's
responses and speculations about the origins and interpretations of the anonymous messages. As in
many of Rose's poems inspired by western archaeological sites, the persona of "Subway Graffiti" both
identifies with the object under study and attempts to enter into the subjectivity of the creators of the
graffiti, to understand their messages from their perspectives.
The poems in What Happened When the Hopi Hit New York are often permeated with a wry humor, an
element of Rose's character and writing often overlooked by critics focusing on her poems as political
statements or expressions of personal confrontation with pain and conflict (Andrew Wiget, who
mentions the wit he sees in many of her pieces, is an exception). "Cemetery, Stratford, Connecticut"
presents a bemused view from a West Coast perspective of a New England cemetery as "horizontal
tenement / like the South Bronx."
The speaker views the scene with eyes accustomed to the extremes of the western part of the
country, which range from "the very ancient" to "things new enough / to smell like carpet glue"; she
locates her own point of view as balanced "between the petroglyph / and the mobile home." Another
poem encapsulating a moment in transition is "Chicago," in which "the foodless corridors / of O'Hare
Airport" can offer little but "what is hoped / is a real coffee pot."
Two subsequent books, The Halfbreed Chronicles & Other Poems (1985) and Going To War With All
My Relations (1993), include some of Rose's strongest poems. The poems of the former, among
Rose's best, are dialogues similar to "Mission Bells." They reach out to embrace individuals from
many places, historical eras, and backgrounds who have suffered injustice and misunderstanding:
Truganinny, a Tasmanian woman whose body is displayed in museums; Julia Pastrana, a woman
exhibited in a freak show; and an anonymous Salvadoran mother describing a massacre.
In "Julia" the voice that speaks Julia Pastrana's feelings shatters the silencing glass of the display
coffin housing her body and that of her infant child and rescues her from disappearing into the
consuming gaze of the freak-show audience.
The historical Julia Pastrana had a genetic condition that caused hair to grow over most of her body,
and this was the pretext for her designation as a freak. In the poem she remakes her identity in
reverie before a mirror, where she sees herself "reflected / as the burnished bronze woman / skin
smooth and tender" that she feels herself to be. Yet she also realizes in an expression of nonbeing as
fundamental as the assertion of her self-created identity that "I was there in the mirror / and I was not."
The poem begins with an address to her husband, "Tell me it was just a dream, / my husband," and
returns to the exhortation in the last section as the speaker apparently seeks to transpose dream and
reality. A crucial transformation occurs in the poem's last lines.
Julia's "stage name," as noted in the epigraph to this poem, was "Lion Lady," referring to her hirsute
condition; she appropriates the label and its power in the last lines of the poem when she describes
herself as "with child, / lioness / with cub." "Julia," like the other poems of The Halfbreed Chronicles, is
a complex and powerful statement, fusing compassion for the disinherited with outrage at the public
commodification of private tragedy.
Other poems in The Halfbreed Chronicles appear within sections titled "Sipapu," "Haliksa'ii!," and "If I
Am Too Brown or Too White For You." Many of the poems in the first two sections set out to recover
specifically Hopi identity. "Haliksa'ii!" is the traditional Hopi formula for opening a story, and "Sipapu" is
a word signifying the small round entryway in the earth through which, according to the Hopi creation
story, the first people emerged onto the surface of this world. The refrain "we emerge / we emerge"
repeats through the poem; the repetition of this chorus suggests sacred song and renders immediate
and vivid the continuing act of creation-emergence that defines the Hopi people and links them to the
Anasazi, their ancient forebears.
"Sipapu" is a joyful, celebratory poem -- a recurrent mode in Rose's work. Although her ironic or
satiric poems have received more critical attention, a significant portion of her poetry is lyrical, even
ecstatic. One such poem is "Throat Song: The Whirling Earth," which takes its inspiration from a note
in an Eskimo publication, Inuktitut Magazine, explaining that "Eskimo throat singers imitate the sounds
the women hear ... when they learned the world was turning, they made a throat-singing song about
The concept of imitating the sound of the turning earth motivates the persona of the poem to address
the earth: "I always knew you were singing!" The persona, who is also poet, singer, and creator,
identifies with the earth, "the mud of me," which in turn resonates within her as "tiny drums ... flutes
and reeds"; the poem ends with a recapitulation of the ecstatic opening line.
The Halfbreed Chronicles also develops a concept of pan-Indian identity, as in the poem titled
"Wounded Knee: 1890-1973," which commemorates two significant events at Wounded Knee on the
Sioux reservation. The first of these was the massacre of hundreds of women, children, and men by U.
S. Army troops in 1890.
Later, in 1973, Indians associated with the American Indian Movement recovered and reoccupied the
Wounded Knee site, demanding long-neglected treaty and legal rights and creating a cooperative,
self-determined community. The persona of the poem identifies with all the people within the
compound during the 1973 siege, asserting a common vulnerability: "they shoot / at me / at all / my
The phrase "all my relations" reemphasizes Rose's insistence on the relational aspect of self-
definition and emerges in the resonant and ambiguous title of her next book.
Going To War With All My Relations , which offers a more overtly political statement than most of her
preceding works, is dedicated "to the memory of Charles Loloma." Rose notes in the preface that the
poems are "a memoir of sorts," documenting "thirty years of observation and activity within the Fourth
World (Indigenous Peoples) Movement."
Some of these poems spring from observations of academic activities: excavation of a mission church
where human bones were discovered embedded in the walls, conferences of scholars reporting on
research among so-called primitive peoples, and the insensitivity of educational bureaucracies. Other
poems reflect isolated moments of personal insight. "Men Talking in the Donut Shop," for instance,
relates the conversation of several workmen discussing a husband who has shot his wife. It is the
ordinariness of the scene, the casual "chitchat / over coffee" that endows this brief poem with its
Rose has indicated that Going To War With All My Relations expresses directly some of her most
deeply held convictions. The poem "Comment on Ethnopoetics and Literacy" confronts another issue
Rose has addressed in her essays -- the phenomenon that she and fellow poet and critic Geary
Hobson call "whiteshamanism." The "whiteshaman" is a poet or other cultural worker who seeks to
appropriate native literary forms, arts, culture, and customs to lay claim to a spurious "Indian" identity.
Gary Snyder is one poet whom Rose has identified as having whiteshaman aspirations; Jerome
Rothenberg, to whom the poem is addressed, is another. In some of his publications Rothenberg has
attempted to rework translated texts (without knowing the original languages) into versions he deems
more attuned to a "tribal spirit," a practice he calls ethnopoetics; Rothenberg also performs readings
of these reworked texts.
Rose's poem figures "ethnopoetics" as a kind of literary taxidermy: the agent first kills, then
dismembers, guts, reassembles, and stuffs the prey -- in this case, poem texts analogized as the
hunter's catch. The final step is construction of a diorama in which the creature-text is exhibited,
analogous again to the hunter-translator's performance or to publication in an anthology of similar
worked-over texts. Read in the context of such poems as "Truganinny" and "Julia," which denounce
the exhibition of human remains for entertainment, "Comment on Ethnopoetics and Literacy" is a
stinging indictment of cultural appropriation, ventriloquism, and exploitation.
Bone Dance: New and Selected Poems, 1965-1992 (1994) is Rose's second major retrospective
collection. It contains poems from all her previous books as well as from a collection of new poems,
titled Now Poof She Is Gone (1994). Rose's introduction to Bone Dance offers her retrospective view
of her poetic career, including changes in her quest for cultural identity and influences such as that of
Maurice Kenny on her work. She concludes with an affirmation of art -- and especially poetry -- that is
accessible to everyone, not just the property of highly trained specialists. She also affirms the validity
of personal expression, especially the expression of women and marginalized persons, in texts that
have not been accorded a place in what she calls "Literature (capital L)."
The poems in Now Poof She Is Gone represent another type of retrospective vision. Rose mentions in
her introduction that this collection includes poems written throughout her poetic career, including
some of her early work not previously published. Many of these texts explore perceptions of feminism
and identity as woman. Rose had declined to publish much of this material, she explains, because of
its deeply personal subject matter, in deference to her sense that "the world is not interested in the
private pain of women." When she determined to publish the collection Rose, a committed feminist,
sought out Firebrand Press, a publishing house founded by and for women.
Even the early and most personal of these poems express Rose's perception of individual identity as
embedded in relationships with others. An example is "What Debris-Woman Needs," written in 1967,
which figures the persona's inner struggle as "the colonial thrust / and the native resistance." Another
poem, "Urban Breed, Go Get Your Gun," dated 1971, in the lines "you are too white / for the red, too
red for the white" anticipates "If I Am Too Brown or Too White For You" from The Halfbreed Chronicles.
The poem "Naming Power" dates to the journey commemorated in Builder Kachina.
A recurrent refrain, "There has to be / someone / to name you," both continues Rose's characteristic
dialogic mode and suggests the incantatory nature of many tribal songs. The voice of the
marginalized persona, in dialogue with the tribal mandate that has left her "standing / in the beat / of
my silence," eventually affirms her self in connection with the earth, "rust that roots in this place / with
my mothers before me."
The assertion of selfhood and integrity in these poems counters the other sense, also pervasive in
Rose's work, of incipient dissolution and erasure. "Is It Crazy To Want To Unravel," for instance,
expresses the sensations and emotions of a woman who feels her identity and sense of selfhood
dissolving into nothing; the possibility of vanishing "sideways / before a funhouse mirror" recalls the
mirror of Julia Pastrana, in which the persona finds "I was there in the mirror / and I was not." This
negative aspect of identity, a recognition of nonbeing, is a necessary correlate of the kind of self-
determination carefully worked out in many of Rose's poems: the self-created self is at every moment
subject to erasure by that same creative force.
Another theme that has engaged Rose's attention since her earliest creative efforts in the Bay Area is
that of the fantastic and mythological. Academic Squaw is dedicated to Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, a writer
of fantasy and science fiction who gave early encouragement to Rose's work. Themes associated with
the fantastic, in particular dreamlike images of women and centaurs, appear in many of Rose's color
Many of her poems also honor the knowledge derived from dreams -- an important aspect of
American Indian traditions -- and Now Poof She Is Gone celebrates dreams and fantasies as elements
in the process of self-creation. "April, a Dream" depicts a dream vision of a woman dreaming, bringing
herself into being through a series of metamorphoses: "a knife that is changing / into a butterfly that is
The intensely personal, confessional mode of these poems links Rose with other women poets of the
present century who have challenged conventional dicta regarding appropriateness or importance of
poetic subject matter. As early as 1967, in "Child Held, Child Broken," Rose introduced the phrase
"neon scars," which became the title for her most explicit autobiographical statement. The essay
"Neon Scars" was commissioned for a volume of autobiographical pieces and appeared at the same
time as "These Bones Are Alive" (1987), an interview with poet and publisher Joseph Bruchac. Both of
these prose pieces continue the dialogic mode of many of Rose's poems. Whereas the interview is a
conventional dialogue between Rose and Bruchac, "Neon Scars" offers an intense, acutely rendered
set of alternating passages in which interlocking voices question, comment on, and critique each
other in attempting to come to terms with a history of pain, rejection, and conflict that has
nevertheless been part of a significant creative achievement.
"I live with ghosts," Rose's narrator asserts; and this essay -- like many of her poems -- both exorcises
and transforms those ghosts in a ritual of acknowledgment, naming, and incorporation: by making the
ghosts part of her story, the persona of the essay seizes authority-authorship and transcends
Rose's other prose writings have emphasized her aesthetic principles and her views of poetry and
poets who have adopted or been given the designation "American Indian." She consistently opposes
the patronizing view of American Indian artists (especially writers of fiction and poetry) as producers of
ethnic curios or works of mainly anthropological interest. She has criticized the placement of fiction by
American Indian authors in the anthropology sections of libraries and bookstores and has pointed out
repeatedly that Native American writers are like all other writers in drawing upon their own experience
and context in creating their works of art.
Rose has also been generous in bringing to readers' attention the work of little-known and
underappreciated authors, as in her articles on American Indian writers of California and the
Southwest. Another theme in her essays as well as her poems is the attack on "whiteshamanism." Her
prose in general continues the critique that runs throughout her poetry of the worst aspects of the
powerful of the world: exploitation of the weak by the strong, commodification of the personal for
material gain, and cruelty and injustice everywhere.
Critical reception of Rose's work has frequently touched on the theme of creating an identity through
art. In his essay "Blue Stones, Bones and Troubled Silver: The Poetic Craft of Wendy Rose" (1993),
Wiget regards this motif as central to her poems; noting the recurring imagery of bones in her poems,
he links the image both with her experience in anthropology and archaeology and with her
consciousness of "body as resource and body as residuum."
Wiget also notes Rose's technical virtuosity in manipulating accent, rhythm, repetition, and
consonance. Both Wiget and James R. Saucerman, in "Wendy Rose: Searching through Shards,
Creating Life" (1989), focus on Rose's dual consciousness as anthropologist and Indian, both studier
and studied. Saucerman emphasizes the ordering power of poetry, which can make sense of chaotic
and painful reality for the "frustrated anthropologist and healing artist."
In "The Uses of Oral Tradition in Six Contemporary Native American Poets" (1980) James Ruppert
also traces a process of personal growth in Rose's poetry of the 1970s; he links her expression of
deepening understanding to affinity for traditional oral poetic forms. Fellow poets N. Scott Momaday
and Paula Gunn Allen have commended Rose's work, in particular its spiritual dimensions. In his
preface to Lost Copper Momaday praises the musicality of Rose's poems, noting their emphasis on
voice and singing as well as their own musicality. In The Sacred Hoop: Recovering the Feminine in
American Indian Traditions (1986) Allen places Rose's poems in a context of feminine spirituality,
regarding them primarily as texts in which "personal images and statements ... become metaphors for
In addition to writing, drawing and painting, teaching, and research, Rose has been consultant, editor,
panelist, and adviser for community and academic projects. She is a member of the American
Federation of Teachers and has served on the local executive council of that organization; she has
been consultant-bibliographer for a federal recognition project, seeking formal recognition of the
status of the North Fork Mono Tribe; and she has served as facilitator for the Association of Non-
Federally Recognized California Tribes.
Rose is in demand for poetry readings, which have taken her to all parts of the country on trips that
have also inspired new poems. Her art has been exhibited in the western states and on the East
Coast. She has served on various editorial boards and has granted many interviews. An important
indication of Rose's distinguished reputation is the number of anthologies of American and
contemporary literature that include her work.
More than sixty anthologies, poetry collections, and prize volumes contain one or more of her poems;
these include feminist collections such as In Her Own Image (1980), small regional publications such
as Dreaming of the Dawn (1980) and comprehensive anthologies of American literature, American
Indian literature, and literature by women, including The Heath Anthology of American Literature
(1990), The Sound of Rattles and Clappers (1994) and Women Poets of the World (1983). Her work
has been translated into French, German, and Danish.
Wendy Rose's poetry will stand with the work of other poets of the last half of the century, notably
among those artists who have brought new material to poetry.
WRITINGS BY THE AUTHOR:
• Hopi Roadrunner Dancing (Greenfield Center, N.Y.: Greenfield Review Press, 1973).
• Long Division: A Tribal History (New York: Strawberry Press, 1976; enlarged, 1981).
• Academic Squaw: Reports to the World from the Ivory Tower (Marvin, S.Dak.: Blue Cloud Press,
• Builder Kachina: A Home-Going Cycle (Marvin, S.Dak.: Blue Cloud Press, 1979).
• Aboriginal Tattooing in California (Berkeley: Archaeological Research Facility, University of
• Lost Copper (Banning, Cal.: Malki Museum Press, Morongo Indian Reservation, 1980).
• What Happened When the Hopi Hit New York (New York: Contact II Publications, 1982).
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• Going To War With All My Relations (Flagstaff, Ariz.: Northland Publishers, 1993).
• Now Poof She Is Gone (Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand, 1994).
• Bone Dance: New and Selected Poems, 1965-1992 (Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994).
Hedges, E. (1993). In Her Own Image: Women Working in the Arts.
Eder, D. (2010). Life Lessons through Storytelling: Children's Exploration of Ethics.
Tarn, N. (2007). Embattled Lyric: Essays and Conversations in Poetics and Anthropology.