Why So Irritable?

I am a member of a tribe of Indians who were called the “landless” Indians of Montana for more than 150 years. Think about that. Indigenous people in North America, landless? Wouldn’t that make you irritable too?

So What’s This About

In a nutshell: thoughts from a crabby middle-aged Native guy with plenty of meandering, often contrary, regularly hypocritical, and occasionally self-contradictory ideas about the world.

I originally conceived this newsletter to be kind of a companion piece to a book I’m working on (it is in the editing process) called Becoming Little Shell, which will be published by Milkweed Editions On August 20, 2024. It quickly became something else, more of a commentary on social issues in general that affect all of us … but still most often through the lens of Indigenous issues, and opposition to white supremacy, and the meat grinder of capitalism, and etc.

Just as often it’s about loving the world and all our relations we share it with, human and non. Sometimes there is outrage, but just as often there is poetry, usually other people’s.

Who Am I, Then?

I tend to keep bios short when asked for them because who really cares, right? But since you’ve bothered to find this page, here’s most of the usual whatnot:

Chris La Tray is a Métis storyteller. He is the Montana Poet Laureate for 2023-2025.

His first book, One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays From the World At Large (2018, Riverfeet Press) won the 2018 Montana Book Award and a 2019 High Plains Book Award.

His second book, a collection of haiku and haibun poetry called Descended From a Travel-worn Satchel was published by Foothills Publishing in September, 2021.

Chris is an enrolled member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians and lives near Frenchtown, Montana.

Other stuff about me? I love to be outdoors. I used to fly fish but I don’t anymore. I love to look at birds and saunter. I love rivers and wild water of any kind. I’m really into solitude and contemplation and engaging with silence, all of which are reflected in my love for short poems … though I write other poems too. I’m pretty good in front of crowds but suck at individual interactions, a proclivity that seems to intensify with age and its attendant saltiness.

Why a Subscription?

I don’t have any other job but writing and writing doesn’t pay a lot. Most of my income is derived from activities adjacent to writing: occasional workshops; teaching poetry to reservation kids for the Missoula Writing Collaborative in the Spring; doing programs about the Little Shell for Humanities Montana, and the occasional opportunity to deliver a keynote address for any organization or conference who wants me.

The income I get from this newsletter gives me the freedom to engage with the world through these other means, and the world needs more of us doing so. The more I make, the more I can do, the more trips I can make into places that don’t get a lot of attention. Those are where my people are. Your subscription helps me help them tell their stories.

I have so much gratitude for everyone who follows me here, paid or not. Sharing stories is how we make the world better. We need more of us doing it, even if all you do is send a link to a friend and say, “Check this out, you may like it….”

Subscribe to An Irritable Métis

Email newsletter from Chris La Tray, member of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, author of "Becoming Little Shell" from Milkweed Editions (8/20/2024), and 2023–2025 Montana Poet Laureate.