Frank J. Montoya


They came slowly at first, those intrepid few,
Those courageous men of times gone by.
They came on foot, by horse or wagon train,
They would reach their goal, to do or die.

They would blaze new trails across the land,
And seek to tame the Wild, Wild West.
They represented a varied society,
At times – the worst: at times – the best.

The Pilgrims and Spaniards were first to come.
And soon were followed by thousands more.
Then came the fearless pioneers,
And fortune seekers by the score.

They came from all the corners of the world:
From England, Spain and Germany,
From Eastern Europe and Africa,
From many a country across the sea.

What were the names of these hardy souls?
Some were Smith or Jones or White or Green.
Some had names you could not pronounce,
And customs your eyes had never seen.

Along with Lewis and Clark and William Penn,
Came Balboa, DeLeon and Cortez as well.
There was Murphy, Hansen, Schmidt and Stone,
But some had names that were hard to spell.

Names that ended with vowels, or vich or ski,
With religious beliefs not like your own.
Their food so foreign, and filled with spice,
And their music… a strange exotic tone.

They all came West to seek a better life,
To search for gold, or better still,
To find a fruitful piece of fertile land;
The good earth that some would gladly till.

But regardless of name or origin,
Most shared one guilt… collectively:
The treatment of those found living here,
Who owned all the land that their eyes could see.

The newcomers, so very self righteously,
Had no respect for the Native Born.
So the Chief, the Brave, The Squaw, and child,
Were subjected to murder, abuse and scorn.

The red man was deemed an inferior race,
And the killing continued relentlessly.
There was wanton butchery at Wounded Knee,
And the Sand Creek Massacre… so cowardly.

The Indian was treated most dishonorably;
His protest was answered with shot and shell.
No way could he match the invaders’ might,
And thousands of warriors so bravely fell.

Tribes were herded like cattle for miles on end,
To reservations in desert or everglade.
Their ancestral land taken by force or fraud
And paid for with bullet or stroke of blade.

Then came the “hunters” of buffalo:
They shot hundreds of animals every day.
A bounty was paid for each one killed –
A senseless slaughter, done just for pay.

They killed the buffalo for killing’s sake.
And left them to rot in the summer heat.
The Indian hunted only in time of need;
The Bison gave him clothing and food to eat.

Stripped of tradition, of home and livelihood,
The Indian was left to suffer hunger and cold.
But the folks back East would read most avidly,
Of the settlers’ progress, so brave, so bold!

The American Indian, a proud and noble man,
Had lived here for many a thousand years.
The white man destroyed his way of life,
And left him in poverty, pain and tears.

Sadly, that prejudice still lives today.
Prosperity has passed the Indian by.
History wants to say it was all his fault;
How can we live with such a shameful lie?