Margo Tamez (Kónitsąąíí Cúelcahén Ndé/Big Water and Tall Grass Peoples), MFA, PhD, is an enrolled member of the Lipan Apache Band of Texas and an Assistant Professor in the Indigenous Studies Program at the University of British Columbia, Canada. Born and raised in the Nde Kónitsąąíí Gokíyaa (Big Water Peoples’ Country/Texas), she is the author of Naked Wanting (2003) and Raven Eye (2007). She is currently writing two books. The first, “We Remained!: Being, Belonging, and Dispossession in Ndé Kónitsąąíígokíyaa, Big Water Country, 1546-2015” is an Indigenous historical memory and recovery project culminating ten years of community-based, participatory research with and alongside Ndé, Comanche, Tlaxcalteca, and Nahua descent peoples from the Lower Rio Grande river. In “We Remained!” Tamez posits new ways of seeing, engendering the past, and Indigenous women as actors and agents, through critical re-thinking of the intimate inter-lacing of Na-Dene and Nahua social spheres over nineteen generations which generations of academics have ignored. Rejecting the western and settler colonial ‘vanishing’ and ‘disappeared’ tropes assigned to federally ‘unrecognized Indigenous peoples’ who never ceded traditional territories through Treaty, Tamez argues that primary Indigenous collections (photographs, maps, letters, genealogies, memorabilia) and narrative memory in the Big Water Country are surfacing in the shadow of the US border wall, in communities which have endured extensive domination. In her extensive study, Tamez is showing how racism, greed, and corruption have obfuscated the deep inter-relationships between Dene and Nahua peoples whose connections to Big Water Country converge deeply and are inalienable. By unveiling and demystifying indigenous kinship system of the Big Water Country, Tamez establishes a pluriverse of Indigenous women’s creative, cultural, social, legal and political history in a large water world, and highlights the liminal places and spaces in which Indigenous peoples established the capacity to survive genocidal violence, repression, and assimilation in order to remain in connection with crucial water-food-medicine-sacred belief spheres. Indigenous women’s knowledge, laws, and governance—which was violently disrupted, fractured and nearly lost–is now, Tamez argues, in recovery, revival and resurgence.
Margo also has a new volume of poetry, entitled “Nizhoni Shitaa, Nizhoni Gokiyaa (In beauty my father, In beauty my country)” inspired by the last 24 hours of her father’s life and an audio tape recording he left behind for his family to ponder. In this collection, she explores her father’s haunting final questions: “Where have all the good men gone? Why have I not found one?” which inspired her to examine Ndé men’s inter-generational sites of identity crisis and the lack of stable presence of fathers, uncles and grandfathers in Ndé men’s lives since the 1873 Remolino Massacre, to the detriment of the entire Ndé matrilineal social structure and institutions. Tamez engenders and embodies her creative work in family archives and Indigenous peoples’ narrative memory of forced assimilation in Texas, militarism, patriarchal replacement of Ndé matrilineal governance, and destructive violence against women, girls, queer folk and mother earth in the Americanization process. In Ndé poetics, she explores the storied landscapes of intergenerational loss, violence, trauma, and familial fractures after the Remolino Massacre (1873), and grapples with the continuity of genocidal killing fields in Kónitsąąíígokíyaa along the Big River through 1910-1919. Tamez returns to poetry and poetic voice, after a decade as a lead investigator into the US gulag border wall, as an appropriate medium to confront the stark consequences and haunting of Indigenous genocide denial in North America. In the process, she is introducing a new Indigenous poetic form which addresses intimate and personal meditations on destruction, hate, shame, and familial guilt expressed in post-memory surrounding the hidden genocides against Ndé peoples. Her new work reflects the pivotal turn in the 21st century toward the recognition of Indigenous peoples’ demand for decolonization, truth and justice.