by DeAnna (Quietwater) Noriega
The land was young and life was good for us,
The people who were first.
The earth our mother welcomed the soft tread,
Of our moccasined feet,
She gave us corn, beans, squash, nuts and berries.
She fed us on wild rice.
There were clear springs and streams to quench our thirst,
And we were strong and free.
We wandered her mountains, forests and plains,
We walked on holy ground.
We hunted the deer, bear and buffalo,
For clothing, food and tools.
Father sun smiled and touched us with his hand.
And nothing did we lack.
Came men whose skins were meant for mists and rain.
From far across the sea.
They tore our Mother’s flesh with iron plows,
With fences bound it round.
They pushed us from one place to another,
To lands they didn’t want.
Wherever we moved they came following,
And drove us somewhere else.
No kin to them were bear and buffalo,
They killed them without need.
For blankets, beads and empty promises,
We sold our mother’s gifts.
With fire water, we dulled our senses,
It stole away our souls.
Came smallpox, measles and malaria,
And we watched our children die.
When only sickness, death, pain, and hunger,
Was what remained for us;
They said we were just worthless savages,
Not human after all.
If this burden was not enough to bear,
They tried to teach us shame.
Sitting Bull never reached the battle ground,
He helped the weak to flee.
They named him a bloodthirsty enemy.
They wrote the history.
They said they had the right to take our homes,
To drive us from our place.
Like the wolves, our brothers they hunted us,
They penned us where they willed.
Our young were taken to be put in schools.
They kept them far from home.
To speak their tongues, the children they forbade.
They thought to tame wild hearts.
They wanted all people to live like them.
And read their holy book.
The Great Mystery spoke to them in it,
Told men to rule the earth.
They said the earth is not our mother,
They owe her no respect.
If Jesus was the son of the maker,
Then did he love us too?
Why did his other children want to cheat?
To take what wasn’t theirs?
Why did they say you must believe his words?
When they showed they did not?
Our hearts lost hope, our voices almost stilled.
Our numbers were so few.
We offered up our prayers and sang our songs,
We tried to understand.
They came seeking to learn of our magic,
To write it in their books.
Now that much has been lost of who we were,
They wish it were not so.
They long to buy with plastic credit cards,
The wisdom that was ours.
Such things cannot so easily be had,
They must be earned, not bought.