Suzanne Rancourt--Featured Writer

Writer’s Statement  

Some quotes like some faces are seared into one’s consciousness. One such quote was from a graduate level faculty member who stated, “You can’t be a writer if you don’t read Ezra Pound.” Another faculty member stated, “Native writing isn’t writing and is not to be pursued.” 1. I don’t like Ezra Pound; 2. Ethnocentric academic arrogance is a sure-fire way to piss me off.

Those quotes are from the late 1980s, and yet they are like yesterday in my artistic fiber. They also ignited and fueled my young, seeking spirit as an artist to ask questions such as, “What is my voice as a writer?”

The journey has never been boring. I began to explore identity, who am I as a human being. This became a quest that led me to Elders, many of whom are no longer walking this plane. One of those writers was Maurice Kenny. Through the remarkable Native Women Writers conference in Saranac Lake, NY, at the North Country Community College where Maurice was teaching, I had the honor of meeting Elder women writers. The interviews with Wendy Rose and Anna Lee Walters informed my extended exploration entitled Ethnopoetics, Place, and American Indian Women Writers. I had no idea at that time that this would be a lifelong trek.

A good Elder inspires. I had/have good Elders. Seldom did I throw any of my work out. I filed it in file cabinets, which I carted with me through out my various homes. And even though I had professors insist that I could not be a multi-modal artist, I persisted. I found myself being more like the Earth that gave birth to different types of vegetation during different times of year, or less or more sunlight, or warm or cooler temperatures - sometimes a story was written, a poem, or a song. For the life of me I couldn’t understand how one could not honor the gift of these expressions. I spent a lot of time being an outcast and even now am somewhat of a hermit. The difference is that I am now okay with that. I’ve learned to accept that not everyone will understand my work, sometimes because I need to clarify themes, metaphor, etc., and sometimes because the cultures may be specific and unique. I’m okay with that too. Finding a home for our work is a different skill than the creating of the work.

I want young and emerging writers to know that a quitter never wins. I want people to know that it has taken a lifetime of trauma, Ceremony, and dang good people to help me accept that who I am is what the Creator has made me, needs me, and intends me to be, and if that’s good enough for the Creator, well, it’s good enough for me. Keep writing, singing, painting, dancing…keep exploring, never throw out your work no matter what you may feel or what people may say because it is your own evidence that your voice as an Artist is real and significant. Who I am as a human being IS my creative voice. It is how I perceive, how I grieve, love, express joy, enter relationships, how I process. . . . I’ve had some folks call me a “bad ass.” Whatever. Cultivate the strength and courage to speak the truth or the wisdom and the discipline to keep your damn mouth shut. (That second part I’m still not good at.) We are living in a time where we must speak the truth. As Artists, we have responsibilities.

My newest manuscript, murmurs at the gate, along with my original songs over the decades, is not just the body of my voice as a writer, songwriter, singer; it is the spinal cord of me as a human being. It is true that I am a holder of many identity labels. It is true that I am the carrier of many trauma stories. It is most true that I am a human being. Be a human being being an artist. After all, if it’s good enough for the Creator. . . .

 

Impressive Education: Mrs. F. the librarian

So many stories about differences because we were different.
Our family had stories that everyone in town knew
and whispered. We had dark people
in our family. Our first language was not English.

The school librarian knew we were different.
I held a thick book – can’t recall the name or author –
it was about a catholic priest and nuns
taking WWII Jewish children over an Alpine pass
Italy to Switzerland -- Saas-Grund, Saas-Fee --
Children that didn’t know
why they were hunted, tortured, shot, alone.
With my two hands I gripped that book
reluctantly presented it to Mrs. F.
into her translucent hands boney, spotted with age
her pasty skin and pinched sharp nose – she smelt like moth balls.

She was a shrew of a woman and tugged
the book from my hands using her closed fingered knife-hands
to wipe the book off where I had touched it.
“You’re not intelligent enough to read this book.”
Her statement made, she turned on her skinny ankles
her heels clicking into the darkness
of book stacks and metal shelves.

I told my oldest sister that night.
The next day she brought me the book.
I imagined my 4 foot 10 inch sister, her darkness,
French accent, her black fire opal eyes,
her hand sliding the book across the check out counter.

I read the book and returned it
just to let Mrs. F. know
that silence does not mean ignorance.
I write this poem sitting at the base camp in Saas Fee sipping espresso
taking a break from Doctoral studies
having just hiked the passes
with survivors of the mountain guides from WWII.
Oh yes, Mrs. F., I understood then
as I understand now
Prejudice is non-discriminatory.

The Boneman

“Always pay the boneman” Poppa said, pointing his finger
straight up to somewhere unknown
emphasizing with his Hungarian accent
looking at Jerrod who laughed - sort of.
Jerrod was curious about Poppa’s stories and sayings
he pulled from the mental margins and white space
of his favorite novels.

I was pensive, leaning on my hand - my neck and chin
contoured the back ridge of the grapevine settee. It was
the manner that Poppa’s lips tightened after saying
“always pay the Boneman” that didn’t fit with Jerrod’s grin.
Jerrod must have known this because he covered his throat too.
It was a way of swallowing our wonder.
Whose bones did the boneman have?
Or maybe he fixed broken bones?
Why did he have to be paid? With what and how much?

I followed Poppa’s jowl to his buttoned collar
and the curious spiral patterns of his loosely knotted tie.
When Momma died last year Poppa put food out for the night
he said. At the cemetery he stood dabbing his forehead
with the white handkerchief from his suit jacket breast pocket.
He spoke some language, homeland, he said, don’t tell your father,
he said, and he sprinkled water and something like cornmeal.
Momma’s way is paid, he said, as Jerrod and I scooted
across the front seat of the Plymouth with the steel dashboard
covered with pollen dust cause Momma hadn’t cleaned it.

Momma’s forehead always sweat
in the summer kitchen when she made dumplings,
goulash, potato patties, sour dough breads and
special secret nut cookies. She had huge hips
like Mr. Polenski’s retired milk wagon horse.
Her apron ties remained amazingly still even when she stirred
500 times the secret cookie dough.
Only her hips propelled the wooden spoon.

I miss Momma. So does Poppa, I know
not just because he tells Jerrod and me
but I hear Poppa talking to Momma
when he sits alone on the grapevine settee, no Momma,
just butterflies and catkins still floating in with late summer
early autumn. “Zsuska, my Zsuska, who will sing for me?
Who will pay my way?” Poppa pleads to the cooling air
and the cold grass calling Momma by her name.

Poppa showed Jerrod and me pictures of Momma,
like Zsuska, when she was just 20. Her hair was still thick
like the pony manes at the carnival, dark hair, and a little curly
when the weather got humid. She wore a burnt orange kerchief.
When Poppa tells stories about meeting Momma
the fingers on his right hand reach up under his left sleeve -
he rubs blue numbers, “Your Momma and Poppa -
we only had each other”
his voice far away, he would sing in a different language
about camps he said that Jerrod and me should never have to know.
Poppa would close his eyes, lean back in the grapevine settee,
it bent and creaked as his voice unraveled a lament
like new violin strings and his sorrow hammered heaven
like a dulcimer waiting to dance with the wind
around the base of shade trees at cross roads
and my fingers traced the spirals on his tie
remembering Momma’s thick hands and white teeth
I will sing for you, Poppa,
I will sing

Maccha[1]

I knew you when the tea was fresh
not yet steeped in bitterness and pale character. Before
spring water boiled and grew tepid as cordial greetings
no longer an exotic flavor taunting taste buds for words of kindness
love and simple acknowledgment.

I knew you when machismo was you and your carelessness
attracted desperate women jonesin’ for sex
because it was the only validation of beauty they could accept.
And when you became bored, your passion cold, I knew you then.

And when you fell in love for real and it threw you into isolation
like shattered cups against floors, walls, doors - I knew you then too.

When I was a child I fell down a flight of stairs.
I carried my treasured, hand painted tea set -
mauve pussy willows on cups, saucers, and teapot
the size of a hummingbird’s nest -
My tailbone jack hammered each solid stair, from my hands
exploded Japanese porcelain, my childhood
shards of innocence, vaporized, all hope
an intermittent rumble of moans.

I saw a little boy in your eyes full of joy and love.
I saw you
throw away books, pictures, gifts like the boy who knew he had lied,
stole, killed, survived, knew himself to be bad, unforgiving, undeserving.
Shame and guilt make a bitter brew
I knew you then too.

Tea.
I held you
when you brought warmth, flavor, comfort

Mediterranean Blues

The baby is a pool toy washed up by the surf.
A red, yellow, blue beach ball baby -
half deflated, face down, the inevitable tide nuzzles,
teases the suppleness of thick black toddler hair -
rocks its ebb and flow there in wet sand of sodden hope.

It’s like wind, perhaps, or a mother’s breath that puffs
a stinging insect away or the quick pulse of fingertips
that brush away sticky crumbs from a morning shirt
from breakfasts past -

Family - and a promise of a future -
like any family on any beach plucking shells
from squawking gulls -

Where are we in this violent eddy of rip tides and terror?

Who are we as humans awash with technology and fanaticism?

We are adrift

We are adrift

When the Glacier is Gone

It is not a door at all
but a place in Nature by the white birch of new beginnings
and a bench welcoming as the breath of fog, the breath of morning,
the dew of life.

I walk there
holding memories like orange peels
in crumpled brown paper lunch bags.
I recall the smells of blood oranges in Italy, fresh glacial melt
frigid with the milk of life and hot
with Andalusian whispers of Saracen movement
the djinn of Sahara wind blown across Alpine nipples
turned iron oxide red from dust and blood of millennia.

An Ash tree quivers in the background -
jettisoned to the outer reaches of historical error,
present and waiting for a sunrise,
a crack between worlds between the shrinking crevices
worn deep from spring melt to fill soul-less buckets with substance.

There is peace by the sculpted Juniper,
Bishop’s Weed, Purple Cone Flower, Bee Balm -
tall Iris’s skinnied from stretching upward -
fingerlike tendrils and nerves grasping for gods
memories, life, reason.

My mother taught me how to climb trees.
My favorite photo of her sits at my bedside.
She is young, relaxed, her legs
follow the contour of a large, extending limb -
She is laughing and her arms drape - a lioness in the Ash of life.

It is the morning fog of sunrise
the receding tide of dew
that washes away historical clutter
reveals a story, a fossil, a coin.

[1] is the finely ground green tea powder central to the Japanese Tea Ceremony.

 

Full Bird at Red Clay

“A Nation is not conquered until the hearts of the Women are on the ground.”

--Cheyenne Proverb

Autumn 1991, Red Clay, Georgia, the sacred ground of the Tsalagi.

Sometimes a person is called to do things that our friends and family may never understand. Some friends and family will choose to walk away and a few will stay to support what we feel called to do. We call them helpers. I have some great memories of being in the Marines, and some not so great. I had a lot of brothers. I never asked anyone to do my work for me or carry any of my gear. I’m not a whiner. Mountain people have rules by which we live. Cultural R.O.E.’s if you will. We’re kind of funny that way. We are raised with them. Perhaps we take them for granted because they are part of our culture. And even though I was not born and raised on a Reservation (Native American i.e. Indian) we were still brought up in a way that was. The way we didn’t take things that weren’t ours, never took more than what we needed, always were grateful, shared with those who had less. The Land, and the observation skills it cultivated, the seasons and the rituals of simple living were / are significant in my life and survival. Some folks call this “resiliency.” There is a code of ethics by which we live. Survival depends on how well we all work together as a team, unit, clan or Tribe. And when you’re alone? It boils down to strength of spirit and ones connection with it.

My Native Tribe is Abenaki – People of the Dawnland. We are northeast woodland people that followed the movement of Ursa Major traveling through Canada, down through New York / Vermont border, New Hampshire and Maine. I am Bear Clan because my mother was Bear Clan. Maybe it was this need to travel with the seasons, as Black Bears do, that drew me to Georgia in support of people just trying to find their way home.

My husband (at the time) and I drove straight through to Georgia out of the glacial gouges called Lake Champlain and Lake George. The iron oxide soil greeted us with stained knees on pant legs and the hem of my denim work skirt. That Earth – blood doesn’t wash out. It’s a reminder of the birthplace we were parking our van on and grateful that that’s where we would sleep for the next couple of nights in torrential down pours, and lightning strikes. This is the weekend where I met the Colonel, the Full Bird.[1]

He said he was retired Special Forces; actually, it was his two attendants that made those statements. Of course, that’s already a lie, nobody ever truly retires. All three maintained their high’n tights and flat affect. They said they Danced (Sun Dance Ceremony) at young L’s place in South Dakota, known for hard and challenging conditions.

There are different names for the Sun Dance Ceremony, which I am not at liberty to discuss. What I can say, however, is that the “Thirsty Dance,” the “Warriors’ Dance,” is a profound and lasting experience that changes the participants and all those supporting the Ceremony. Native Ceremonies aren’t like church on Sunday mornings where you show up and walk in. There is Community where making sacrifice is understood. There is hard work and commitments. Everyone is a significant part of the whole. We push ourselves to limits. There is fasting, no food or water. And we learn to pray really hard.

Ceremonies for Native people teach us how to live and survive during the most difficult and challenging parts of life, as well as the good and beautiful parts. I always felt bad for my supporters because they had to focus not only on what I was doing but the everyday stresses of daily living. At least when I was in Ceremony I could focus on that one thing. Being a supporter is a hard thing because you are being asked to keep positive for that person who may be called to do things that you don’t understand or agree with. It’s a tight community where no matter where we are in the world, we’re related. This truth resonates with the motto, “Once a Marine always a Marine.” We take care of each other.

Not just anyone is an Elder or a person authorized via recognition to provide Ceremony. I was lucky to have good Elders and supporters who taught me about being there for those doing the suffering and making the sacrifices. I recall one Vision Quest when an Elder who we called Uncle was getting ready to put me “out on the Hill” (The location where I would be placed for a specified amount of time without food or water). Uncle said, “There’s a storm comin’.” I said, “yup.” He said, “I’m still putting you out and I’m not comin’ to get you.” I said, “yup.” The whole time Uncle was looking at me to see how I was taking that and then we both started laughing, kind of wild like and he said “good, come get your last meal.” The storm was Hurricane Bertha. He didn’t come get me.

The Colonel’s face has always remained in my mind. With clarity, his image froze in my pineal gland, missing something. His tightly clipped hair was still brown, no gray in his regulation mustache, jaw squared by obvious decisions; he wore frameless glasses, rectangular lenses, straight aviation style bows shot across the tops of perfect human ears. He did not like women in the military.

It was clear that his attendants, compadres, soldiers, body guards admired, idolized, respected, would die for him, sympathized with the Colonel who himself was Tsalagi. I understood. However, this did not inhibit my bold, aggressive, and just plain ballsy approach to socialization. Maybe the guys didn’t like my gray Bailey’s cover or the red high tops that sported a fancy dance under my skirt when I thought no one was watching but of course I knew they were so I did it all the more. My rebelliousness was just for them. Ahh, the burn of disdain!

Well, there we were, in our enormity of a 100 years of silence gathered with our fellow Peeps supporting the return of Tsalagi to their homeland. People emerged from their caves of hidden identity, finally, to see who survived, to cross reference ancestries, tell their stories of survival and to locate lost family members. It rained Friday night. Saturday was dryer, still gray and clouds continued to roll in. The Sacred Fire was lit Saturday morning the old way. Seven woods, seven directions, the people gathered and the Elder Men of Knowledge spoke the language and lit the fire. Silence, recognition, validation – cleansing comes with healing and it began.

The Elders say that you must never look a “Heyoka” (contrary) in the eyes because they’ll take you. It is contrary to give and also take life. It’s a lot for the mind to go back and forth like that especially if your culture doesn’t understand that it is the same sword, so to speak. Other Tribal people who have similar traditions would be the Samurai culture. Lightning is a sword of Nature that can bring both life and death. Most people only know the bolt lightning that comes from the sky. Few people know of the lightning that the Earth emits nanoseconds prior to lightning strikes. This is how the bolt knows where to strike. Native culture helps us understand this natural phenomenon that we call “medicine.” Some people are drawn to water, others fire, or wind or little plants that grow around the base of a favorite tree. Some people might use other terms like angels. When we experience intense life threatening situations, it doesn’t matter what one calls them as long as they’re helping. Some Elders will say that certain medicines run in families. You know, like when we say, “He’s just like his father” or mother or Great Uncle Rosco The Forgotten. Whatever our personal strengths, medicines are, Native culture and traditions help us learn to honor them, learn to live with them, accept them inside ourselves. My Grandmother was struck and killed by lightning while she was inside a house. It came in through the window for her. We cannot run away from who and what we are. I tried. But no amount of drugs and alcohol will change who we are. That’s why we need each other, to help each other accept the things we cannot change.

Throughout the day the Colonel avoided me, his attendees keeping me at a safe distance. Not being Tsalagi but Abenaki I understood. Prejudice is non-discriminatory. Shit rolls down hill. There is always a pecking order. My husband and I focused on meeting and greeting old friends: Touches Earth from Arkansas, S.A. from the Eastern Shore, Native Veterans from Florida, and more. We were just people claiming our God given identity for the sake of our children and the next seven generations. We are who and what the Creator intended and needs us to be and no human has the right to take that from us- No one, absolutely no one.

Word got out that I was a veteran myself (USMC, and Army) which piqued a weird kind of curiosity among some. I think it was the red Chucks or the fact that I kept finding open knives in the ground. I showed one to an Elder and he said, “You are protected.” My mother gave me my first knife. No dollies for Suzy. I spent hours whittling spears, bows, and arrows. I felt protected. Especially come Saturday early evening when Touches Earth and I were working the fire. This storm rolled in from the West with a Buffalo head of thunder and whoop ass lightning. Everyone ran for cover. There we were. Two non-Tsalagi folks left with the first fire in over a hundred years!

Most folks had already headed back to campers and cheap hotel rooms that offered a dry night and mattresses for Elders. The others huddled under the pavilion, including my husband (at the time.) Touches Earth and I knew the drill and that fire wasn’t dying on our watch. We knew how to stack the wood to keep the inner core burning white hot while drying the wood from the inside out. We knew how to tee pee the wood, dig a trench at the base to direct the run off away from the searing center of life itself. And the lightning? We were just a couple of crazy ass clowns dancing with the lightning bolts, baby. We liked it. We thrived. We focused. We howled and yes, we whooped. We survived.

By sunrise the fire’s heat could be felt several feet out. We’d gone through a lot of wood which happens when you have to protect a fire that way. Collateral damage I suppose. We’d grabbed a piece of wood that later we realized was a chunk of old telephone pole. We discovered this when we began to smell the creosote. Someone wanted to remove it but Touches Earth and I said no. Creosote comes from a bush and is used for cleansing and healing old wounds. It draws out infection. The wood stayed.

Sunday was clear with the bluest of skies, the fire alive and strong. People began to arrive dry from housing or damp with guilt that they somehow could not be out by the fire. Somehow they felt that they hadn’t done all that they could have. And being the subtle person that I am, I asked in my usual in-your-face kind of way, “Well did ja pray for us? Did ja at least worry about us and think about us and this fire or did you just not give a shit?” Everyone responded with yes, they worried and yes, they prayed. Touches Earth shrugged with a Delta drawl and toe poked a stick of wood back into the blazing center, “Well, I guess it worked then, what’s the problem?” We all laughed, drank coffee and blessed the day.

Different Nations of people have as many commonalities as they have tribally specific uniqueness. The Tsalagi, I was told, hold the numbers 7 and 13 as significant. The closing ceremony had been decided by the Elder Men of the Bands and Clans that they represented. There would be a Sacred Pipe Ceremony. Tribal and Clan representatives would enter the arbor and participate. No women. Hey, sitting on the ground with my gray still very wet Bailey’s and red high tops, with no sleep, I was content with that. Through her insistence, a native sister was selected to participate. The Colonel, who was also participating, was most displeased and could be heard verbalizing his disagreement. As fate would have it, the gal who was selected “got hit”[2] ten minutes before the ceremony was to begin. With life there is always blood. Can’t have life without it. There is always sacrifice. I saw S.A. look my way. I lowered my head. The wide brim Bailey’s might protect me. I saw the feet and legs of a veteran brother turn and stride across the grass. I heard his steps approach from behind, his two hands landing, one on each of my shoulders. “Grandfather says you,” he said as each hand gripped.

“Oh, you don’t want me. I stink! Look at what I’m wearing!”

His hands could easily have been Eagle talons lifting me up by the shoulder and collarbones; I knew there was no way out. I knew it was meant to be. He repeated, “Grandfather says you.”

“Okay,” I said, “but you know it’s gonna piss off some folks so you guys walk me in.”

“No problem. You’ll stand beside Grandfather and me.”

The funny thing is that for the last several months in my personal prayers, I’d been doing things in a way that was oddly identical to how the Elder Men adapted the Ceremony to accommodate a female. Hundreds of miles away and yet we remain connected across distance and time. Funny how that happens. I was number 13. I stood breathing slowly smelling the smoke, living the prayers made visible in that moment, in the sun, hatless, the sun caressed the top of my head. I stood at parade rest for over an hour of spoken prayers, loading the Pipe, and the men breathing in and out this living communion. Last. My lips would touch the Pipe last. So they thought. Outside of the arbor, the Elder women gathered, watched and whispered in that Gramma way not taking their eyes off the action. They graced their shoulders with shawls and blankets and stepped forward, unified, entering the circle quietly their Doe soft mocs barely crushing the autumn grass. They fell in to my left, proud, dignified, and scaring the hell out of the men. I don’t know what the biggest miracle was--the fire staying lit through massive torrential downpours or the Pipe burning long enough for each additional Grandmother to receive the smoke. Either way, the day was blessed.

*********

We packed up the van and readied ourselves for the long haul up the Dragon’s backbone into the Adirondacks we called home. We made our way around the outer circle of camp saying goodbyes with hugs and hand shakes. And there he was: the Full Bird. His faithful, leather sporting gargoyle attendants remained by his side. Like locking on to a target we sighted in. I swaggered toward him holding my gaze steady my red high tops flashing out from under my long, worn, and dirty denim camp skirt. His attendants leaned into my approach, almost taking a step to bar my presence.

He was strack, clean shaven. The jaw line where mothers cup with their hands was smooth. “I hear you weren’t pleased with women smokin’ the Pipe?”

“No” he said, “it’s not Tradition. That other woman got hit. She couldn’t go in.” His face remained tight, slight twitch of left jaw.

I dropped my chin; the top crease of my lid presented as I looked at the earth and kicked a couple of small stones. Brought my head back up eyes locked again with a wise ass grin I said, “Now Colonel, all the places you’ve been, all the things you’ve endured, done, and seen, all those combat years, and not once have you ever wondered where the sayin’ ‘goin’ with the flow’ came from?!?”

His guardians pressed forward, appalled that I would speak this way to their protectee. In that moment the Colonel reared his head back and laughed a just plain belly roll thunderous laugh. The first smile witnessed in three days. His comrades stepped back aghast, perhaps witnessing for their first time humanness inside the immovable object, the Colonel. Our eyes locked again in one manic moment, serious as stone, I said, “It’s women like me that give birth to men like you, and don’t you forget it. Honor your Mother.”

He dropped his chin, nodding a bounce, looked up, and replied, “Yes.”

You don’t have to know someone to recognize them. Maybe I saw in the Colonel myself. Maybe he saw himself. Maybe we saw each other and our pasts, present and even our futures. Maybe the part of us that connected with that Sacred Sun Dance Tree saw each other and in that moment there was acceptance of the paths we as humans have no power to change but can only hold on like bull riding banshees and learn to like it because we were born this way. There is power in knowing certain things about acceptance and it creates resiliency. There’s power in knowing that there’s someone there to balance you, human or not.

I can’t remember his name, if ever I knew it, but his face and presence have endured through every enlistment, every SRP, every military volley filled funeral and every time I have been given the honor to receive, hold, and fold our Nation’s flag. There is some kind of soul that Warriors share; some kind of connection through the blood of the Earth like there that day in Red Clay.

Endnotes:

  1. The rank of “Full Bird” Colonel is the final rank before entering General rank. It is significant and symbolized by a gold insignia of an eagle with out stretched wings, hence, “Full Bird.”
  2. A term often used when a woman starts her period – moon time – suddenly. Women on their Moon are sacred in their own way and do not participate in certain ceremonies such as the Pipe Ceremony.

         

Suzanne Rancourt is of Abenaki/Huron decent, born and raised in the mountains of West Central Maine and currently residing in the Adirondack Mountains. She is a multi-modal artist with work forthcoming and appearing in Dawnland Voices 2.0 #4, Northern New England Review, Bear Review, Three Drops Press, Snapdragon Journal, mgversion2>datura, Sirsee, Slipstream, Dawnland Voices, Muddy River Poetry Review, Ginosko, Journal of Military Experience, Cimarron Review, and Callaloo, as well as numerous other anthologies, translations, and textbooks. Her book Billboard in the Clouds was the winner of the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award.  Rancourt is a US Marine Corps veteran.

She is a multi modal Expressive Arts Therapist, Consultant, Educator with graduate degrees and certifications in psychology, creative writing, and drug and alcohol recovery. For a more complete list of qualifications, her philosophy of practice, and her other creative writing, please, visit www.expressive-arts.com.