More from No Feather, No Ink

American readers who are unfamiliar with Louis Riel and the Métis will soon discover their story is also the story of the American Indians, told from a poetic perspective view rather than from a historical view.

Unfortunately, they may even discover in poems like this one by James A. MacNeill:

A MÉTIS CHILD DIES

Where are the men
The men are dead
And the women
Lie rotting
In clay sheets

Where are the children

White fences
Cradle their graves

Did the rocks weep
Is the wind ever sad

Flint scratched inscription
"Safe In the Arms of Christ"

christ
This is a book of sorrow
Of blood

Hunger in a bitter paradise

reminders of more recent wars, wars where the innocent are more apt to be victims than the guilty. We only deceive ourselves when we ignore the real cost of prejudice, bigotry and racial hatred.

Some readers may even discover, as I did once again, that these poems touch a part of themselves, as in this poem by Milton Acorn

Dig Up My Heart

Dig up my heart from under Wounded Knee
Where it's been living as a root in the ground
Whispering the beat, to fool mine-detectors.
Though there may not be much Indian in me
That fraction was here first. It's senior.
Take this heart to grow a man around.

I shall be Heartman - all heartmuscle!
Strong and of longest endurance
I've acted, thought and dreamt to nurse my will
Proud for the day of the People's Judgement
When vision rides again and all that's meant
Is said and flashed from eyes once thought blind.
Fewer and fewer of us, rest now in silence.

Of course, I discovered this long ago while playing cowboys and Indians with a young Apache. We fought over who got to play the Apaches in Fort Apache and who had to play the murderous bluecoats.

5 thoughts on “More from No Feather, No Ink

  1. i have a fraction of Native American blood in me (actually it’s 1/4)

    i remember playing cowboys and indians as a young girl in oklahoma, i don’t think that’s something the current generation does any more unless it’s on a video game

  2. John Jacob Price was a founding member of the Church of the Brethren in the German-speaking Rhine region in 1708. He came to America to preach the gospel in 1719 at age 43 with his wife, Margaret, and a seventeen year old son, Johannes. They settled near Philadelphia in what was called Germantown, and bought 200 acres of land at a place way out west called Indian Creek.

    Their son, Johannes, married a Unami Indian woman in 1722. Johannes died in 1724, but not before his wife gave birth to two sons, Daniel and John. John Jacob Price lived until his Native American grandsons had grown to manhood. Daniel had eight sons and John had four, all born shortly before during or after the French and Indian War. Their sons were at least 1/4th Unami Indian.

    The Indian tribes of Delaware relocated to Ohio at the end of the French and Indian War. George White Eyes founded a town in Ohio that still bears his name, Coshocton, at the point where the Tuscarawas and the Walhonding rivers meet to form the Muskingum. A settlement was formed near the headwaters of the Tuscarawas called Gnadenhutten, a religious community composed of Native Americans from Delaware who were tutored in Christianity by Moravian missionaries affiliated with the Church of the Brethren. During the Revolutionary War Gnadenhutten was burned to the ground and all of the inhabitants killed except for two young boys who somehow escaped. At least that’s the legend.

    After the Revolution the Ohio was opened to white settlement. Washington County was the first county established in the 1790’s when a fort was built at Marietta where the Muskingum enters the Ohio. My grandfather’s grandfather, Alexander H. Price, was born in 1832. It appears he grew up on the Tuscarawas River about halfway between Gnadenhutten and Coschocton. His grandfather could easily have been one of the sons of Daniel or John Price. If so, then Alexander was at least 1/16th Native American. Most of the settlers in that area between 1790 and 1830 were single white men who often married local girls and raised families.

    Anyone born in Ohio before 1790 was almost certainly Native American. Between 1790 and 1830 the percentage of Native American blood in the indigenous population was gradually diluted. Indian Removal was established by law as a process in 1832 and most treaties allowed five years for voluntary compliance before enforced compliance began near the end of the decade. By 1840 many of the Indians from Delaware who had resettled in Ohio before the American Revolution had descendants who no longer identified with any particular band or tribe. They had practiced the white man’s ways and religion for nearly eight decades in Ohio and had intermarried with white settlers for nearly four decades. Anyone in Ohio in 1840 with more than one white ancestor had an excellent chance of passing for white.

    All of my mother’s Ohio ancestors moved from Ohio to Indiana during the Civil War. Based upon a picture I have seen of my great grandmother, Laura Steele nee Price, and her older sister, Emma, both born in South Bend, Indiana ten years after the war, the Price girls appear to have been at least part Native American. Laura’s husband, Ira Steele, served as an Evangelical minister with a church that grew out of the Church of the Brethren.

    I was born in Lawrence, Kansas, close to large Shawnee and Potawatomi reservations. My mother claimed that the first time she saw me was in an incubator at the hospital where I was born. The kid in the incubator next to mine was a Shawnee Indian and at birth I looked more like an Indian than he did. My mother often called me ‘Chief’ when I was growing up. It was short for Chief Hiawatha.

  3. At my dad’s funeral in 1981, one of my cousins told me that we had indian blood in us. Which tribe? He had no idea. Most all of my people were born i Ohio/Pa. Most of the counties in Ohio were Miami, Darke, and montgomery counties. I’m retired and on a fixed income, and cannot afford to hire a geneaologist. So I wonder around on the internet at different sites. Do you have any ideas for me????
    bill

  4. I know nothing about geneaology except what I read on blogs, but Craig, who commented right before you is really into this, so you might email him from his site, just click on his name to go to his site.

    In addition, kasturi mattern of not native fruit, listed in my sidebar, has been doing an extensive study of her family genealogy. Perhaps she could also be of help.

    Good luck.

  5. An interesting read. Thanks.
    I just returned from 4 days of wandering Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Specifically, Gnadenhutten, Tuscarawas, Port Washington…. researching the family name DeMUTH / DEMUTH. Dozens found!!! Then backwards to Claysville, Connellsville and Alvert, PA for the family names MEALY and STONER.
    Compiling all my info this week. Please contact me if any of those family names works for you.
    I live in Greenwood, IN outside Indianapolis.
    Happy to share what I have found.
    cdfrede at yahoo dot com

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