By Alex JacobsNavajo Documentary Film Tour Directors Ramona Emerson and Sarah Del Seronde bring their films 'Mayors of Shiprock' and 'Metal Road' to Indian country
Alex Jacobs is a member of the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne, historically the St. Regis Mohawk Indian Territory that straddles the New York-Ontario-Quebec borders. In 1969, Alex was sent to Lenox School in western Massachusetts as a high school student for ABC – A Better Chance Program, which turned 50 in 2013, after being conceptualized by President John F. Kennedy and in later years championed by Oprah Winfrey. Alumni include musician Tracy Chapman and Deval Patrick the governor of Massachusetts, and Alex includes Howard Bad Hand as a mentor. Alex was with the Organization of Native American Students who were at the first Mayflower Protest in 1970 at Plymouth Rock. Rather than go to Dartmouth College as was intended, Alex went home right at the time St. Regis declared itself Akwesasne, joining the Longhouse and the international Indian newspaper, Akwesasne Notes in 1972. Jacobs’ cousin Richard Oakes was a leader at the Alcatraz Occupation and Alex ended up at Wounded Knee in 1973 as a member of Akwesasne Notes and the travelling group, White Roots of Peace. As poetry editor he went by his Mohawk name, Karoniaktahke, and Notes published his first poetry book, Native Colours in 1974; his second collection, Landscape, was published as a chapbook by Blue Cloud Abbey; and he has been anthologized in We Wait in the Darkness, Come to Power, The Next World: Third World Writers, The Remembered Earth, Songs from this Earth on Turtles’ Back, The Clouds Threw This Light, New Voices From the Longhouse, Returning the Gift, Sovereign Bones.
Jacobs studied Creative Writing and Studio Arts at Manitou Community College in Quebec in 1975, earning an AFA at the Institute of American Indian Arts, Santa Fe in 1977, and a BFA from the Kansas City Art Institute in 1979. He has exhibited his artwork in museums, galleries and markets in San Francisco, Santa Fe, Phoenix, Indianapolis, New York City, New York, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, England, Italy, and Germany. He returned to Santa Fe in 1991 when he went to work for Rick Hill at the IAIA Museum. He has read at the Nuyorican Poets Café and AICH in NYC, Amerika Haus in Germany, the National Poetry Slams and Talking Stick Festival in Vancouver; performing at Poetry Slams and Open Mics in Taos, Albuquerque and Santa Fe for over 20 years.
Jacobs did three tours with Akwesasne Notes in the 70s, 80s and 90s, co-founded Indian Time community newspaper and Akwekon Native Arts Journal in the 80s. He won a New York Foundation of the Arts poetry fellowship in 1996, a Best of Category in paintings & graphics, at the Santa Fe Indian Market in 2006 and a LOFT Spoken Word Award in 2013. He was an ironworker and has a son, daughter and grandson; son DJ Duran Flint produces their spoken word & music CD’s. Currently he is a freelancer for ICMN, and has been writing in the A&E, Opinion, History and Environment departments for four years.
Some of Jacobs’ most noted work for ICMN is as follows: