Tanaya Winder continues to amaze with wonderful poems of courage, sensitivity, and brilliance. This morning's poem speaks to all of us…including about whether our stories on TV, movies, and music are seen as entertainment or recognized as a way young people learn how to become men and women, treating each other "with respect like the old dances taught us."
I come from the Duckwater Shoshone and Southern Ute nations. I was raised on the Southern Ute Indian reservation in southern Colorado; I consider that place along with the Pyramid Lake Paiute reservation in Nixon, NV my two homes, my origins. Because of the strong connection I feel towards place, I feel I am a child of both water and the desert. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I have chosen to make my home here in Albuquerque.
Ten Little Indians
One in three Native American or Alaska Native women will be raped at some point in their lives
Sometimes the story is told differently
One little, two little, three little Indians
or not told at all. Most know one story about
Indian boys torn between reservation and real
world, between tradition bear root sage
drumbeats and cities, between history and
the present – what’s left? bear turned to beer
dances to drunken driving the stereotypical
drunken Indian and maybe we’re all gambling our lives away
Four little, five little, six little Indians
And it’s not just the boys, our Indian princesses too.
Per capita has made some greedy. For, blood
quantum has turned us needy, craving to make ourselves
whole. Babies born into broken wombs, in a community
where ten little Indian boys should learn how to be men.
Asking do they remember? How to touch a woman
with respect like the old dances taught us, she chooses you.
Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians, ten little Indian boys
Sit on the bus listening to their older cousins describe
‘See that girl getting on over there, she had a train pulled
on her this weekend’ and this is some little boys education,
their socialization into behavior where someday, not too long
from now men gather around a fire singing forty-nine songs, about love.
Maybe their father’s never taught them
how to touch her, that loving her didn’t mean taking her
blacked out where she wakes up not remembering, not remembering
Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians,
seven little, six little, five little Indians,
four little, three little, two little Indians
One little Indian boy.
Poetry submissions are welcome. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.