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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.