Thurman P. Woodfork


IWVPA Double Tap Award for War Poetry: November 23, 2007
Awarded: November 23, 2007
What do we know of real Native Americans?
They’ve written little of their history.
We depend upon the words of the conquerors
to part the curtain of mystery.

Myths and fables and misrepresentations are
what we have as a result,
and all those western movies we watched
just might bear a little of the fault.

Geronimo is a familiar name, as is Quanah
Parker, Cochise, and Crazy Horse;
some of us have heard of Mangas Coloradas,
and many know of Chief Joseph, of course.

But tell me, what is the Trail of Tears, where
did it begin, and where did it go?
Was there really so much misery on that march?
Did that many tears actually flow?

Were the Seminoles really unconquered, and
from where did they come?
Were they the combined people of many tribes,
or were they always just one?

Why do I ask all these questions, why has my
curiosity become suddenly piqued?
Actually I’ve wondered ever since I discovered
‘Little Beaver’ was neither a Sioux nor a Creek.

He was really an Italian kid named Mickey,
and a favorite of my trusting youth,
when Red Ryder rode Saturday’s ranges,
and I took what I saw on the screen as the truth.

I knew little of Indian reservations, and less
about what happened there;
like most of my fellow Americans,
the truth is I didn’t really much care.

Maybe that’s why we readily accepted
a bogus ‘Indian’ weeping over the ecology;
and, after a brief spurt of interest, have
almost completely forgotten Wounded Knee.
A child is brutally beaten because someone,
a teacher, felt he didn’t belong,
and his parents only protested a little. Why
have we become so accepting of such wrongs?

So the world spins ‘round, we go our ways,
caught up in our own lives, but yet,
all is not completely forgotten – for some,
that ancient trail continues to be wet.