Black Elk Speaks

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The biographical text indeed has a poetic flare (though not entirely) to it that comes across from the introduction onward, and can be seen in both Black Elk and John Neihardt’s speech and writing. For instance, Neihardt writes the following:

“Little else but weather ever happened in that country – other than the sun and moon and stars going over – and there was little for the old man to do but wait for yesterday (p.xxiii).”

 

And Black Elk’s normal manner of speech sings with the aged simplicity of wisdom and the colorful style of the long ago Indian, as seen in the following passages:

“What I know was given to me for men and it is true and it is beautiful. Soon I shall be under the grass and it will be lost (p.xxv).”

“I was born in the Moon of the Popping Trees on the Little Powder River in the Winter When the Four Crows Were Killed (p.7).” Continue reading

Leading up to the Red Power Movement

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People often try to pinpoint specific events when they talk about the birth of wars, happenings, fads, and major movements. For instance, it is easy to say America entered into a war with Japan after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It is a lot harder to retrace historic and cultural events which paved the way for Japan to ally itself with Germany and Italy. The same concept applies with consideration over what paved the way for the Red Power Movement of the 60s and 70s among the Native Americans. Similar to a chef adding various ingredients to some meal a variety of events occurred among Indians, over a thirty to forty year period, that created the recipe which brought forth the Red Power Movement. It is a complex issue that could easily require a volume of text to do justice. However, for the sake of brevity, I will point out some of the predominant ingredients which helped create the socio-political concoction known as the RPM: government policies, poverty, perseverance, and place paved the way for the Red Power Movement. Continue reading

War touches all

The following is a term paper based on several books written about the Vietnam War; but it is just as relevant for any war… and for any time.

[Take your ego and preconceived notions out of the equation and it’s never too late to learn.]

Fly the friendly skies0001

War touches all

War is greedy. A little thing can release it, but after it is let loose it cannot easily be tamed. It has no loyalty, not even to those who cast it forth. It seeks to ravage anything and anyone it touches, and it touches everyone. And anyone touched by war will never be the same. But individuals who experience war firsthand will, inevitably, bear a bigger cross: a burden uniquely forged by their experience and perspective. Continue reading

So I am Told

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I am a byproduct of civilization

Blood from two of the five

civilized tribes flows in me

So I am told

Tribes of the Southeast

Why is the Southeast not my home?

Because of the Trail of Tears

So I am told

Destination

Oklahoma

New roots for ancestral kin

So I am told

Why is Oklahoma not my home?

Because of the “New Deal”

So I am told

Placate the politician

Vacate the reservation

Paddy-cake a new direction

Earn more money

Have jingle-jangle jeans

Forget your language

Homicide your Spirit Guide

Be a “real” American

So I am told

A few went to Texas

A few to Southern Cal

Indian maiden finds white-eyed Prince

Indian brave finds white-eyed gal

Broken water sets me free

Born in Long Beach

California

As far away from my ancestral home

as I can get

without getting wet

So I am told

Separated geographically

Separated culturally

So I am told

But I have lived

loved

longed

lost

and laughed

But never with a true connection to kin

My inspiration to begin again

A byproduct of civilization

So I am told

More often than not – civilization sucks

© JW Thomas

Red Sisters

[Inspired be two well-known Native American authors having a squabble over who is “More Indian than thou” and which one represents the Native American way the best.]

Why must you argue red sisters?

Chirping and clucking – clucking and chirping

“More Indian than thou,” says she

Perhaps Coyote is again under the skin

Red on red should not be anger

Green Monster should not be released

She and she are both quite rare

Rare as the White Buffalo

The words of one are grand

The words of the other are deep

Talent is talent

Talent is a gift

Gifts are to be shared

Sisters – make peace

© JW Thomas

American Poets?

Wind brought the words

I heard it called waves of air

Claims of natural talent

Red blood

Red skin

Red clay

Erdrich is grandiose

Momaday the master

From oral tradition

to ink stains on paper

No treaty for creators

The hoop circle complete

Give air to the truth

say the warriors of the words

The Great American Poet

A spirit whispers

Whitman is dethroned

Are there real American poets?

Crane is shelved

Ginsberg is shackled

Poe is Poe

All Wasichus

Metamorphosis

Symbols by Silko

Howl with Harjo

Share through Young Bear

Don’t swim with Matchimanitou

Word warriors

Unmasked

Never saw the face of Death

No war honors

No spirit guide

False vision quest

Trickster’s prints are present

Socio-political activism

Public war of publicity

Market you

Market me

Forked-tongue talk

Hate-debaters

Great Spirit Father

and Mother Earth People

When we walk the Wasichu way

the strategy betrays

Coyote plays

Our people lose Integrity

who is drowned by Publicity

and stumbles in darkness

beneath the murky waters

of Matchimanitou

© JW Thomas