Native Americans' battles in poetry

Poetry inklings- Native Americans of Integrity - The Trail of Tears of the Indian tribes led to a fresh vision in the arts where the tears were used as material for creating powerful art of many kinds of expression.  In "Memory Sack" Joy Harjo speaks of our pack of memories "Slung slack on our backs--We venture into the circle - of destruction - Which is the circle -- of creation --and make more."  Using positive poetry as role models of virtue to "be what you see" - (Manifesting goodness) is supported by recent neuroscience discovery that Metaphors are in association area of the somatosensory gyri of the brain in same place as touch and pain. "It is most wise to fill our minds with as many graphic images as possible." Ps 18:2  Metaphors in poetry are said to be a “magic eye” for catching the right image to transfer things to thought in a most delightful and graphic manner.  In short poetry helps develop memory. In accordance with latest brain discoveries Japanese Haiku form is the best to begin with as 5 syllables – 7 syllables - 5 syllables is the beginning pattern for newcomers.

(Neko Cat approved !)

Native American Indian Proverb:

Every time you wake up ask yourself what good things can I do today? Remember when the sun goes down at sunset it will take a part of your life with it.  The glory of the morning is expressed in the Biblical Lamentations 3:22-23 “The Lord’s unfailing love and mercy still continue, Fresh as the morning, as sure as the sunrise.

 

Native American in Contemporary society:  Best Seller on NY Times

 

Capturing a situation familiar to many Native Americans is book “The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian boy” by Sherman Alexie, a story of a rez boy in the white school world.  The comical tribes and titles he observes are topped off with the realization of what it would be like to be an Indian paid-off by the US Calvary for turning Indians in to them who belong to the Tribe of Bookworms.  As a lonely Indian boy, but not alone in his loneliness he concludes he is better off in the white world.

A historical novel about the southwest and the lineage of Indians and the ousted jews of Spain in the 15th Century  "Hidden Star" by Corinne Joy Brown, was released in April 2016, chronicles the story of the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese Jews who fled to the New World with the Spanish colonial settlers during the 15th century to escape the Spanish Inquisition. Their descendants are resurfacing today, reconnecting with Judaism.

 

Native American Heritage and Influence on Integrity – Adam Ochsner

"Honesty of thought and speech of written word is a jewel, and they who curb prejudice and seek honorably to know and speak the truth are the only builders of a better life..." John Galsworthy, Nobel Laureate novelist of World War 1 period whose words best describe Adam Ochsner, a fellow writer and war participant.

 

Millennials should most enjoy Adam Ochsner, poet of the land, who mourns the disappearance of the small farm, abandoned or swallowed up in mechanized corporate enterprises.  It is his feeling that man and nature were made for each other, and the further the distance between them, the worse for man. The land that Adam writes about is the Dakotas.  He knows its history, its traditions, its beauty, its “progress.” From the wealth of its history he writes of the Indians, the Sioux, and the Cheyennes. He recalls the legendary names of Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse, Chief Joseph, Red Cloud.  He retells the stories of the massacres at Wounded Knee and Sand Creek, and of the countless other injustices against the Indian by the white man, the “glory-hungry generals, and the rest.

"To tell the truth is to become beautiful, to begin to love yourself, value yourself.  And that's political, in its most profound way."  June Jordan, Caribbean-American poet.

 


 

 

An Indian Warriors depiction of the battle.

 

Lesson learned:  Two sides to every story.  A good strategy is necessary in battles as in accomplishing goals. Don’t make (false) assumptions.

There were many trails of tears from the homelands of the Muscogee Creek Nation west, just as there were for the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole and many other tribal nations all over North America- indigenous peoples who were forcibly removed from their homelands by government forces.

May we all find the way home.

Fanciful illustration of Custer’s Last Stand in 1876.

Crazy Horse

 

“Today is a good day to fight,

Today is a good day to die!”

These are the words of Crazy Horse,

This was his battle cry.

 

Tashunca Witco he was called,

By his tribe, the Oglala Sioux;

From his youth he was ambitious,

Strategic, daring, brave, and true.

 

He lured Fetterman into ambush

With his troop of eighty men,

Riding out from old Ft. Kearney,

Not a one rode back again.

 

Chosen as the battle leader

By the chiefs of all the Sioux,

He fought General Crook all day,

Till defeated he withdrew.

 

Well prepared for Custer’s coming,

He was chief commander then,

In that famous fateful battle,

Victor he was once again.

 

But that was his last triumph;

Sitting Bull to Canada fled;

Shattered were the warlike Sioux;

Crazy Horse his end soon met.

 

Surrender to the Whites he did,

So his people could survive;

But when forced to enter jail,

He did resist and lost his life.

 

Gone he is from earth forever;

But his fame lives more and more;

Out of a mount his statue is carved,

A life of bravery to adore.

Chief Joseph

 

Chief Joseph of the Nez Perces,

He hated war and worked for peace;

But soon the Whites forced him to move,

So bloody feuds did soon increase.

 

They raised horses for a living;

But their range was taken away;

In the valley of Wallowa

They were not allowed to stay.

 

To the Lapwai reservation

They with their stock agreed to go;

The Whites stole hundreds of their horse4s

Ere they to their new home could go.

 

Some Nez Perces then took revenge

Against Chief Joseph’s peaceful will,

To refrain from deeds of bloodshed,

And eighteen settlers they did kill.

 

The army came to punish them,

The Nez Perces then took to flight;

With Chief Joseph still their leader,

While fleeing they were forced to fight.

 

Through over thousand mountain miles,

With five hundred souls in all,

In four months of flight and fight,

Many of them in death did fall.

 

With his well trained Indian cavalry,

Joseph did outsmart the Whites;

And inflicted heavy losses

On them in a dozen fights.

 

Joseph tried to enter Canada,

Ere the army him could take;

But was caught near the Bear Paw mountains

And away he could not break.

 

With his people cold and starving,

On a cold October day,

He to General miles, surrendered,

Humbly giving his gun away.

 

He said, “My people are cold and starving.

They ask me for food and I have none to give,

I have fought; but from where the sun now stands,

Joseph will fight no more, forever.”

 

He was a brave and noble leader

Of the colorful Nez Perces;

He didn’t allow any scalping

And set women captives free.

 

General Miles praised him and said,

“He was noble in war and in defeat,

And had to suffer from the Whites

Many ways of foul mistreat.”

 

Down to Indian Territory

His tribe was taken away;

The wounded, men, women and children,

There through his life they had to stay.

 

In that then malarial country,

Most of those hapless Nez Perces

And all of Joseph’s children

Their life’s end were soon to see.

 

A remnant was allowed to come back

With Joseph to northern Washington,

Arriving there when winter came

With little food to live on.

Pictures at

E.Curtis Exhibit  link at Denver Public Library

“Custer’s Last Stand”

 

General Custer, proud, brave and game,

Boy general of Civil War fame,

Cavalry general in Sheridan’s corps,

Eager for battle and glory evermore,

A reluctant Grant allowed him with Terry

To conquer the Indians in a hurry;

From old Fort Lincoln they started out,

Custer with the Seventh and many a scout.

Terry ordered him to locate the Sioux,k

They wait for him and Gibbon too;

On June twenty-six they were to unite,

Together they would crush the

Sioux’s war might.

Custer found their camp,

many thousand strong,

On the Little Big Horn for miles along;

But didn’t wait for Gibbon and Terry a day,

For the Indians and glory might slip away;

So the seventh alone started the fight

Against overwhelming Indian might.

Custer was warned by his wise old scout

That the well-armed Sioux would wipe him out;

He was warned by Reno of the order from Terry,

To wait for gibbon and not to hurry.

On no! wait for Gibbon another day,

The Sioux and glory would slip away;

But the Sioux were not prepared for flight,

Shrewd Sitting Bull had planned to fight,

He had planned well for Yellow Hair’s fall

With Crazy Horse and the mighty Gall;

They were to avenge Chief Black Kettle’s death

Eight years ago on the Washito yet,

They remembered the Cheyennes’ great despair

on that winter night attack by Yellow Hair;

Together, the Cheyenne and the Sioux,

To protect each other now would be true.

Ready were the chiefs of the Indian race;

Crazy horse, Gall, and Rain in the Face;

White Bull and Bob Tail Horse were there,

Crow King, Two Moons, and Rose Bear.

Custer’s troopers were tired and worn

When they came up to the Little Big Horn;

For they were riding most of the night

The day before that fateful fight.

Custer attacked without delay,

Fearing the Indians would get away;

He divided his force to hold the Sioux—This proved unwise for him to do;

Benteen to the left with the ammunition packs,

Reno to the right the camp to attack.

He would support  Reno by swift descent,

Charging the camp from the other end;

Then he took his force from Reno away—

A grave mistake that bloody day.

Reno advanced to start the fight

Against the Indian camp now in sight;

But a thousand warriors under Gall

Were ready to bring on Reno’s fall;

Of Reno’s men, soon in the fight,

Seven were wounded and eight had died;

So he took refuge among the trees

To hold back the Sioux who came like bees;

To a high bluff on the other side

Of the river he crossed to keep on the fight.

A message to Gall from Iron Cedar

Saved Reno’s men from certain slaughter;

It told Chief Gall of Custer’s descent

To attack the camp on the other end,

So Gall from Reno galloped away

To help bring Custer’s end that day;

While Crazy Horse had gone on ahead

To keep Custer from getting away.

When Custer left Reno, riding north,

Some fifty hostiles galloped around,

Two hundred yards from his own ground;

He ordered his scouts them to pursue.

This the Indian scouts dared not do,

For they thought that it was a decoy

That the Indians often did employ;

Custer, angered, disarmed and sent them away,

This act saved the scouts’ lives that day.

When Custer was north, five miles from Reno

And of Gall’s coming he did not know;

He sent an order, calling Benteen backi,

To come quick with the ammunition packs;

But Benteen couldn’t come back anymore

For the Indians blocked him off evermore;

So off to Reno then he raced

And thereby both of them were saved;

Together they were strong enough

Later to hold the Indians off.

As Custer advanced the camp to attack

A peculiar incident held him back;

Four Cheyenne charging braves that day

Somehow caused him to make delay.

He mistook them for a tricky ruse,

A stratagem Indians oft did use:

This gave time for Crazy Horse and Gall

To come from Reno for Yellow Hair’s fall.

Custer’s charge across the Little Big Horn

Never took place, ‘twas a dream forlorn;

For he ordered his troopers to dismount

When the Indians charged him all around;

From the north came Crazy Horse with the Oglala,

From the south came Gall with the Hunkpapa

And Cheyennes under Two Moons and Bob Tail Horse:

So Custer’s dilemma got worse and worse,

In minutes half of his men lay dead;

But the rest were bravely fighting yet.

The Indians held their fire for a spell

For a reason no one for sure can tell;

Custer then spoke to his remaining men,

Just what he said only they knew then.

The Indians started their final attack

And Custer’s men could not hold them back;

They struggled to reach the top of the hill,

But the Indians circled them ready for the kill.

Doomed Custer’s voice was heard again,

“We are near to the top, stay together men!”

On stormed Crazy Horse with his Oglala

And Gall with the Cheyenne and Hunkpapa,

With howling war cries, moving fast,

The final struggle not long did last;

They were doomed to death that hour grave;

But they fought to the end and they all died brave.

Angry Squaws on the field came then,

Scalping some dead and dying men.

Stripped of their clothing the dead were found;

Buried they were on the battle ground.

So death, together with glory came,

To Custer and his men, all brave and game.

 An Indian Warriors depiction of the battle.

Medicine Man – the healer medicine man chanted and sang and as he sang the song lifted him up into the dance.  

As he danced he became the poem he was singing.  He became a transmitter of energy, with poetry, music and dance.

 

To heal was to be familiar with what destroyed. - Ray Young Bear, Meskwaki poet.

Muskoke Medicine Man, Monahwee, grandfather of poet Joy Hargo, was second Chief of the Creeks had a reputation for valor and military skill and at all times he would have gourds tied around his waist filled with different kinds of herbs for his medicines.  Famed for saving the life of a white woman being beaten by her husband, early 1880's.

Carrying Indian Baby

After our walk, there were no babies left;  they killed the babies.--James Scott, Muskoke elder and survivor of the Trail of Tears.

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