Native American Ray A. Young Bear is a member of the Meskwaki Nation (the Red Earth People) and lives on the Meskwaki tribal settlement near Tama, Iowa. Raised by his maternal grandmother, who taught him Meskwaki customs, mythology, and language, Young Bear spoke Meskwaki as his first language, and didn’t become comfortable with English until high school.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register, Young Bear said that his writing is a link to the writings of his grandfathers. He owns his grandfathers’ journals from the early 1800s and has said, “I believe that ‘word-collecting’ is genetically encoded in my blood.” Young Bear sees his poems as collages of many voices. His poetry is often surreal and informed by the Meskwaki culture, and his sources are myth, history, and dreams.
Young Bear and his wife, Stella, are co-founders of the performance group Black Eagle Child.
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