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'Rebel Poet' Explores Life As A '21st Century Indian'

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Courtesy of Wisconsin Historical Society Press
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“Rebel Poet: More Stories from a 21st Century Indian” is a collection of poems by Louis Clark III (Two Shoes).";s:

The 1960s was a decade of change in the United States. The civil rights movement brought intense focus on human rights abuses against minorities, including Native Americans. As the American Indian Movement was occupying Alcatraz, Louis Clark III (Two Shoes) was here in Wisconsin, growing up on the Oneida Reservation and dealing with his own abuse.

Clark is a member of the Iroquois Confederacy and the Bear clan. He faced difficulties growing up as one of just a few Native American children in his Catholic church.

"It was difficult, especially when they came and started teaching about Columbus and how the Jesuits came here to save the heathen savages. Then to find out you’re the heathen savages? That was a striking blow," says Clark. 

At home, Clark says there were a lot of broken dreams and a lot of alcohol. Through it all, Clark dealt with it by writing poetry. His latest book, Rebel Poet, is a collection of some of those poems, which he hopes will help other people in his situation feel less alone. 

"I just started writing for me," he says. "It was a release because I could write a poem about something that really hurt, and I could throw it away or stash it away — it was like a cleansing of my soul ... I write to cleanse my soul, but I publish to hopefully help other people."

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as a producer for Lake Effect. Before then, she was a director and producer for Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm Chicago Public Radio.