Chris La Tray, a tribal citizen of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa Indians, has been named by Montana Governor Greg Gianforte for the term of 2023-2024. The announcement was made by the Montana Arts Council.

La Tray, known for his two poetry collections, "One-Sentence Journal: Short Poems and Essays from the World at Large" and "Descended From a Travel-worn Satchel: Haiku & Haibun," has firmly established himself as a prominent figure among Montana's poets. 

His debut work, "One-Sentence Journal," received numerous accolades upon release, including the 2018 Montana Book Award, the 2019 High Plains Book Award (Best First Book), and a finalist spot for the 2019 High Plains Book Award (Best Book by Indigenous Writer). Anticipation is building for his upcoming book, "Becoming Little Shell," set to be published in 2024 by Milkweed Editions.

Never miss Indian Country’s biggest stories and breaking news. Sign up to get our reporting sent straight to your inbox every weekday morning. 

Upon learning of his appointment, La Tray expressed his excitement, stating, "I'm thrilled to have this opportunity. I never saw myself as a poet until others began to call me one." 

Looking ahead to his new role, La Tray expressed his interest in reaching places that might not typically be associated with poetry events. He mentioned his plans to hit the road, visiting all tribal colleges. He even shared his excitement about an invitation from Wibaux, humorously adding that Wibaux is almost like North Dakota. In addition to his poetic endeavors, La Tray intends to continue collaborating with Montana's Office of Public Instruction and Humanities Montana in their Indian Education for All Initiative. This initiative aims to educate Montanans about the history of the state through the perspectives of the Little Shell Tribe of Chippewa and Métis cultures.

La Tray was born and raised in Frenchtown, Montana.His prowess with language runs in the family—his Métis great-great-grandfather Mose served as a multilingual interpreter for the US Army, while Chris himself advocates for the revitalization of Indigenous languages spoken in Montana. Prior to the publication of his first book, La Tray contributed writing to the Missoula Independent and had his fiction and nonfiction pieces featured in various publications. He maintains an online journal called "An Irritable Métis," where he grapples with matters of cultural identity, the natural world, and the path Montana is taking.

La Tray takes over the role of Poet Laureate from fellow Missoula valley writer Mark Gibbons. Mark's tenure included conducting a series of video interviews with fellow Montana poets and contributing regularly to the Montana Arts Council's publication, "State of the Arts." As Chris steps into this role, he becomes the eleventh Montana Poet Laureate and embarks on his two-year term.

The position of Montana Poet Laureate was established in 2005 through the efforts of the Montana State Legislature.

More Stories Like This

Eighth Generation Blanket Featured on Cover of British Vogue in October
Here’s What's Going On in Indian Country, September 21 —September 28
The Land That Carries Our Ancestors: Contemporary Art by Native Americans Exhibition Begins Sept. 22 at National Gallery of Art
Gifted Native American Flutist Robert Tree Cody Walks On
The Future is Now at Newly Opened Center for Native Futures in Chicago

Native News is free to read.

We hope you enjoyed the story you've just read. For the past dozen years, we’ve covered the most important news stories that are usually overlooked by other media. From the protests at Standing Rock and the rise of the American Indian Movement (AIM), to the ongoing epidemic of Murdered and Missing Indigenous People (MMIP) and the past-due reckoning related to assimilation, cultural genocide and Indian Boarding Schools.

Our news is free for everyone to read, but it is not free to produce. That’s why we’re asking you to make a donation to help support our efforts. Any contribution — big or small — helps.  Most readers donate between $10 and $25 to help us cover the costs of salaries, travel and maintaining our digital platforms. If you’re in a position to do so, we ask you to consider making a recurring donation of $12 per month to join the Founder's Circle. All donations help us remain a force for change in Indian Country and tell the stories that are so often ignored, erased or overlooked.

Donate to Native News Online today and support independent Indigenous journalism. Thank you. 

About The Author
Native News Online Staff
Author: Native News Online StaffEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Native News Online is one of the most-read publications covering Indian Country and the news that matters to American Indians, Alaska Natives and other Indigenous people. Reach out to us at [email protected].