Christina A. Sharik

THE NATION’S HOOP IS BROKEN – WOUNDED KNEE

IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry
Awarded: June 24, 2007
There is no hope on the earth:
Bury my heart at Wounded Knee[1].
and the Chief known as Red Cloud
thought:
Can there be peace between you and me?

We will wear our Ghost Shirts
and dance the Ghost Dance
Wovoka will protect us from bullets
He will give us a chance.

Big Foot and his people
surrounded by soldier chiefs;
a tired, sick leader, placed in a tent
by those uncaring of his beliefs ~

the soldiers took away their weapons
each and every knife and gun.
But when Black Coyote,
the young deaf one,

raised his rifle above his head
to signal it had cost him much,
they misunderstood, shots were fired
and like a flame-to-dry-grass touch

the panic began
as the children ran
shot in the back
in a brutal attack

grandmothers, grandfathers
women, children, warriors brave
without their weapons
there was no one to save ~

there was no fighting back
they had to run………
run away

When the wagons
of wounded
finally reached Pine Ridge,

they were left overnight
in the snow and the cold

the warrior
the child
the woman
the old

finally, taken into a church,
to see a banner proclaiming:

Peace on Earth
Good Will to Men.

There’s no end to the blaming.

“The Nations’ hoop is broken
and scattered.
There is no center any longer,
and the sacred tree is dead.”[2]

Remember the ones who mattered
Remember the wounded,
the women and children,
in snowdrifts of red.

Now let us forever chant
from the Now to the Then:

Never Again
Never Again
Never Again

TECUMSEH:

Tecumseh
Full-length portrait of Tecumseh, drawn by F. Brigden, ca. 1790-1799. Tecumseh worked with his brother Tenskwatawa, known as ‘The Prophet,’ to unite Native American tribes in the Northwest Territory to defend themselves against white settlers.
“The whites are already nearly a match for us all united, and too strong for any one tribe alone to resist; so that unless we support one another with our collective and united forces; unless every tribe unanimously combines to give check to the ambition and avarice of the whites, they will soon conquer us apart and disunited, and we will be driven away from our native country and scattered as autumn leaves before the wind…

“Where today is the Pequod? Where the Narragensetts, the Mohawks, Poncanokets, and many other once powerful tribes of our race? They have vanished before the avarice and oppression of the white men, as snow before a summer sun. In the vain hope of alone defending their ancient possessions, they have fallen in the wars with the white men…

“Are we not being stripped day by day of the little that remains of our ancient liberty? Do they not even kick and strike us as they do their black-faces? How long will it be before they will tie us to a post and whip us, and make us work for them in their cornfields as they do them…?

“Shall we give up our homes, our country, bequeathed to us by the Great Spirit, the graves of our dead, and everything that is dear and sacred to us, without a struggle? I know you will cry with me: Never! Never! Then let us by unity of action destroy them all, which we now can do, or drive them back whence they came. War or extermination is now our only choice. Which do you choose? I know your answer. Therefore, I now call on you, brave Choctaws and Chickasaws, to assist in the just cause of liberating our race from the grasp of our faithless invaders and heartless oppressors. The white usurpation in our common country must be stopped, or we, its rightful owners, be forever destroyed and wiped out as a race of people…

“And if there be one among you mad enough to undervalue the growing power of the white race among us, let him tremble in considering the fearful woes he will bring down upon our entire race, if by his criminal indifference he assists the designs of our common enemy against our common country. Then listen to the voice of duty, of honor, of nature and of your endangered country. Let us form one body, one heart, and defend to the last warrior our country, our homes, our liberty, and the graves of our fathers.”