Layli Long Soldier is a poet, a mother, a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation, and a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe. She wrote her latest collection of poetry as a response to the congressional resolution of "Apology to Native Peoples," which apologized to Native Americans for their mistreatment by the United States government signed by President Obama in 2010. The resolution is described by Layli as a silent gesture, tacked onto the Defense appropriations bill without any ceremonial acknowledgment or invitation to tribal leaders to witness its signing. Now, Standing Rock has become shorthand for this same painful history of ill-conceived policies and depredation.
Channeling her outrage into her work, Layli crafted a series of 20 poems that each begin with "Whereas," just as the official apology begins. The resulting collection titled WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologise to Native American peoples and tribes by reflecting that language back on its perpetrators.
Join Layli Long Soldier for a conversation about her journey creating WHEREAS through an examination of histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations.
Layli Long Soldier is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship for Poetry, a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship, and a Whiting Writers' Award. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.