Sasha LaPointe, writer, poet, singer, and artist from the Upper Skagit and Nooksack Indian tribes in the Pacific Northwest, is many things. As she states in her new memoir, “Red Paint: The Ancestral Autobiography of a Coast Salish Punk” (2022, Counterpoint): “Call me a writer. Call me a riot grrrl. Call me Coast Salish or poet. Call me a girl who loves Nick Cave, and night swimming, and ramen, and old Bikini Kill records. I no longer wish to be called resilient. Call me reckless, impatient, and emotional. Even Indigenous. Call me anything other than survivor. I am so many more things than brave.”
LaPointe’s family roots stretch deeply into the coastal forest’s soil—her ancestors include a woman located in what is present-day Astoria, Oregon, who was one of the only members of her tribe to survive a smallpox outbreak brought to their area by settlers. Scattered along the Northwest coast, LaPointe’s family history significantly predates the names and infrastructure currently inhabiting the area, yet she struggles to secure a true feeling of home in herself on her family’s land.
Exploring both her indigenous heritage, especially those of the women in her family, as well as her ties to her local DIY and punk scene, LaPointe finds commonalities and comfort in her past and her present that may appear initially unexpected on the surface. Much of “Red Paint” explores LaPointe’s processing and healing regarding both her personal experiences of abuse and tragedy as well as the generational trauma her family has lived through. Her story is full of unimaginable hardships, but her explorations through writing, music, and uncovering the lives of her ancestors gives LaPointe an introspective understanding of who she is and where she belongs.
Check out “Red Paint” at your closest Denver Public Library location or as an ebook on denverlibrary.org.
In-person programming returns to the Smiley Branch and other Denver Public Library locations
After a long closure and pandemic-related precautions, in-person programming has returned to Smiley!
Visit us for the following recurring weekly programs:
Baby Storytime: Tuesdays 10:30 a.m.
Teen Writing Club with Denver Writes: Wednesdays 4-5:45 p.m.
All Ages Storytime: Thursdays 10:30 a.m.
Check out denverlibrary.org/events for special events and for programming at other Denver Public Library locations.
Hannah Evans is the senior librarian at the Smiley Branch of the Denver Public Library.