06 December 2016

On the Occasion of an Indigenous Victory*

Photo by Josh Morgan for The Huffington Post*

First peoples know better than others do
that victory is temporary, that
they must continue to be vigilant.

They don’t take down their tents and they don’t turn
their backs while corporations hover near
to snake pipelines through land and water dear.

This day’s ceremony establishes
instead forgiveness rites, as veterans
who stand with Water Protectors kneel down.

The media reports: “Leonard Crow Dog
formally forgave Wes Clark Jr.” for
actions against Natives through history.*

We will remember Crow Dog’s words that
“we do not own the land, the land owns us"*
We will record Wes Clark’s apology:

Many of us, me particularly, are from the units that have hurt you over the many years. We came. We fought you. We took your land. We signed treaties that we broke. We stole minerals from your sacred hills. We blasted the faces of our presidents onto your sacred mountain. When we took still more land and then we took your children and then we tried to take your language and we tried to eliminate your language that God gave you, and the Creator gave you. We didn’t respect you, we polluted your Earth, we’ve hurt you in so many ways but we’ve come to say that we are sorry. We are at your service and we beg for your forgiveness.*

Many of us, me particularly,
kneel with veterans who transgressed for us--
in our names—and now atone for us.

Let us make this more than symbolism.
Let us surrender to wisdom, become
Protectors and learn struggle, love and peace.

With Gratitude to the Water Protectors of Standing Rock
* I took my information, photos and quotes from The Huffington Post's unsigned story: "Forgiveness Ceremony Unites Veterans And Natives At Standing Rock Casino." Please let me know who to acknowledge in fair use of this material.

My blog poems are rough drafts.
Please respect my copyright.

© 2016 Susan L. Chast


Sherry Blue Sky said...

A beautiful poem about a very healing and significant moment in history. Given subsequent news reports, they will need to leave their tents up. But for a moment, we saw the power when thousands of people rise together. Corporations are powerful. But the people have justice on our side, and the fate of Mother Earth hangs in the balance.

Martin Kloess said...

Thank you for this tribute to a grand victory.
May we all learn from this

soulsmusic said...

This is a beautiful tribute to reality. But, with you, I know it is only one step in the right direction. We can learn so much from Indigenous People. How to continue, how to be patient, how to be honorable in a world that is not. Thank you, Susan,


Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Beautifully said, and moving – both the quotes and your own words. I have been following this issue with great concern, as have many here in Australia, and no doubt the rest of the world also. I continue to pray for a resolution which safeguards the water and the people. (How short-sighted the perpetrators, not to realise that it affects ALL of us.)

Sherry Blue Sky said...

It has taken us a long time to hear First Nations' wisdom. We need to heed it now more than ever before. Trudeau is trying to put through climate change legislation and, typically, loud protests are being heard. No one wants to do it NOW. Yet we are already far too late. Sigh. However at least the conversation is being had, and the apologies, forgiveness and healing are happening. All very hopeful.

Mary said...

This is such a strong and moving poem, Susan. Indeed, I hope it is more than symbolism.....we have much to ask forgiveness for. We ourselves need to engage in protecting what needs to be protected and also listening to the wisdom of the wise ones we have ignored too long.

thotpurge said...

A strong poem Susan, not sure if an apology will do, but the healing has to be begin somewhere.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

So true. But the oponent is money. Big money.

Sumana Roy said...

"Let us surrender to wisdom,"...the sooner the better...

Jae Rose said...

To learn from people who know is so valuable.. i suppose the first step is in acknowledging their wisdom which seems respectfully shown here

kaykuala said...

Beautiful write Susan! Corporations had been doing it when greed was their motivating factor.Only later generations seemed to be seeing the unfairness with some damage control in place!


Sanaa Rizvi said...

Such a beautifully deep and profound tribute, Susan❤️ Your words offer much strength and wisdom.

Lots of love,

Truedessa said...

You have crafted a powerful message and we all must remain vigilant as corporations will always try to gain strength as they lack compassion on a personal level, they only know the symbolism of money.

gillena cox said...


Much love...

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Amen Susan!

Old Egg said...

If only this was a start of something bigger, world wide, shaking governments out out their greed and bias. Let's hope it is.

R.K. Garon said...

Yes, It was due. Well captured.

Wendy Bourke said...

Stirring and eloquent. Well said! An important, impactful piece, Susan.

signed...bkm said...

Beautiful - we as a people have an obligation to protect this land- it is us- it holds our soul...bkm

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I am so afraid that the DAPL victory is temporary at best. A new administration will undo this victory, shred it, and leave it in tatters. (How pessimistic is that?)