American Indian Poetry

Poems by various American Indian writers.

Just Listen

by Jay Ork

You lay buried for two thousand years
until a farmer saw you in a furrow
and claimed you for his own
now you cry, still bleeding,
for the sins of Columbus and Reagan
and the wandering spirit of your creator
and you stand, sacred and disciplined,
sharing your vast knowledge with arrogant strangers
who cannot understand the simplicity of your message:
turn off your computers and listen,
just listen

The Earth Can Be Healed

by Liz Frost

What was given was taken and can be given again,
but not just to one race of men,
as on this continent exist many men
mixed of many races,
a blending of many faces,
will join
together in many places,
with combined heart and soul,
joined through the wheel,
the earth can be healed
and again become whole,
look to your soul
there you will see
there you will know

Just a Wannabe

by Dee Smith/Saki

Well, I'm just a wannabe
without a tribe ID
That's what they say about me
I dream the prophecies
and ceremonies
but I was raised white, so doubt me!
I may have had some blood way back when
But Grandma ran off with Whitey
And now she talks to me --
but I'm just a wannabe --
Life goes on without me!
Cos I ain't got no ID
No card in my wallet
Blood quantum insufficient
I ain't got no ID
Won't some plastic medicine man take a chance with me?
Maybe I can't talk or dance but I can chop some wood
And I'll pray real quiet, won't embarrass your neighborhood
cos I ain't got no ID
And nobody cares for me!
Well, I'm just a wannabe
But this is what I see
But I got no liscence to vision!
I wasn't raised this way
So they say I gotta stay
Back in the whiteman's mission!
The seed pod's gotta pop
the seeds have gotta drop
and grow wherever the wind sends 'em!
Or else there won't be
Any more trees...
Life goes on without 'em!
But I ain't got no ID
No card in my wallet
No family records
I ain't got no ID
Won't some plastic medicine man take a chance with me?
I can run some errands and show up on the lines
And stay out in the background when you come out looking fine
cos I ain't got no ID
And life goes on without me!

A 'wiat 'ang

Male child of our male ancestors
Woman child of our female ancestors
and stretched before them
a thread
unbroken by the winds
not eaten by the shadows
they were the ones
who put my heart into this life
who went with me to the river
and dreamed my canoe
that day the Thunder was heavy
I took my stick and touched him
from far away
touching him I passed from there to here
can you see
where we have carried him?

Keeper of Tradition

by Jon Briggs Watts

The respected man looks deeply,
seeing what's inside.
an Eagle circling.
Holding what has always been,
contemplating what might be.
There is time,
the truth will be shown.
He closes his eyes,
seeing beyond depth.
Quiet power, unseen-opening,
A human being is revealed.
Asking nothing,
he gives.


by Rita Joe

Our home is this country
Across the windswept hills
With snow on fields.
The cold air.
I like to think of our native life,
Curious, free;
And look at the stars
Sending icy messages.
My eyes see the cold face of the moon
Cast his net over the bay.
It seems
We are like the moon --
Grow slowly,
Then fade away, to reappear again
In a never-ending cycle.
Our lives go on
Until we are old and wise.
Then end.
We are no more,
Except we leave
A heritage that never dies.

Moon / Solstice

by Andrea Lord

slowly unfolding
an abundance of footprints
like heartprints
leaving tracks
that can be followed…
A depth that flows with
a law of humanness
and humility…
A speed so slow
even in its breath
not even a whisper
is felt…
But leaves a trace of simplicity
that wraps a heart in a sigh…..
like i…..
A solstice wish
written at full moon

Turtles Sleep On My Belly

by Hans Granander

sleep on my belly
I was one day
my heart and singing
dreaming in the sky
and calling Thunder
feeling the fingers of the moon
feeling that soft light
feeling the water on my fingers.

Some Things Are Worth Dying For

by Jim Northrup

Tobacco swirled in the lake
as we offered our thanks.
The calm water welcomed us,
rice heads nodded in agreement.
Ricing again, megwetch Munido.
The cedar caressed the heads
ripe rice came along to join us
in many meals this winter.
The rice bearded up.
We saw the wind move across the lake
an eagle, a couple of coots
the sun smiled everywhere.
Relatives came together
talk of other lakes, other seasons
fingers stripping rice while
laughing, gossiping, remembering.
It's easy to feel a part of
the generations that have
riced here before.
It felt good to get on the lake
it felt better getting off
carrying a canoe load of food
and centuries of memories.


by Kaw-ii-su--Skygate

the thunder remains in my belly
even when no one is watching
At first light of day
I have seen the sky-gate
I have sent a song through it
and feet which will stomp the earth
I have gathered myself and named myself
salt, corn
I have counted myself
sweetgrass a morning feast
passed through invisible hands
sky-gate opens
I will press my belly to the earth
just a few feet away
and sing from there
two-lane highway
air-conditioned indifference
Tobacco Indian
magnificent oblivion
Natural Man Runs Down-wind.

Related Stories:


Indigenous Peoples' Literature

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