Grantee:  Heid E. Erdrich
Native Citizenship:  Ojibwe/Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
Location:  Minneapolis, Minnesota
Award:  2018 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Literature
Web Site:

Writer, storyteller and poet Heid E. Erdrich reaches audiences through her voice as a woman from both Ojibwe and American cultures. Enrolled at the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa in Belcourt, Erdrich now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Descended from a family of writers, artists, and storytellers, Erdrich believes that writing and art are her natural course. She credits strong cultural exposure, formal education, and a Native writers mentorship in Minnesota as the keys to her writing development. Understanding that others often interpret her deep cultural references as “dreamy or surreal,” she notes that her intention is deliberate: “I never want to perform Indian, yet I won’t repress my understanding of culture either.”

She gracefully tackles difficult subjects – the threats of mining and pipelines, Native invisibility, abuse, stalking, racism and fascism – utilizing poetry and prose. Through venues that include performance, radio, video, and books, her work honors a way of being and a wide range of subjects often contrasting scientific knowledge with Ojibwe concepts, Native language, lyric poems, historical references, and as intertextual play. She offers us the pathway and hopes to lead her audience to a state of mind in which we can achieve a balanced “way of being in a complex time.” Community engagement, such as free workshops, work with tribal colleges, and mentorships have always been part of her contribution to the larger Native community.

Erdrich holds a PhD in Arts and Sciences in Native American Literature and Writing from Union Institute. She teaches in the Creative Writing program of Augsburg College.

I am bear clan and we are supposed to defend as much as we teach healing. My poetry grows from that spirit.

~ Heid E. Erdrich

Synopsis: “Pre-Occupied” is a new and experimental form, the poem-film. Originally written for the website 99 Poems for the 99%, poet Heid E. Erdrich created a visual landscape of associations and references that match the tremendous irony of how the word “occupy” can be meant.

“Pre-Occupied”: Written by Heid E. Erdrich. Heid E. Erdrich, Producer and Co-Director; R. Vincent Moniz, Jr., Co-Director; Jonathan Thunder, Art Director and Animator.