October 12, 2001
by Jimmie Durham, Cherokee
- In school I was taught the names
- Columbus, Cortez, and Pizzaro and
- A dozen other filthy murderers.
- A bloodline all the way to General Miles,
- Daniel Boone and general Eisenhower.
- No one mentioned the names
- Of even a few of the victims.
- But don't you remember Chaske, whose spine
- Was crushed so quickly by Mr. Pizzaro's boot?
- What words did he cry into the dust?
- What was the familiar name
- Of that young girl who danced so gracefully
- That everyone in the village sang with her
- Before Cortez' sword hacked off her arms
- As she protested the burning of her sweetheart?
- That young man's name was Many Deeds,
- And he had been a leader of a band of fighters
- Called the Redstick Hummingbirds, who slowed
- The march of Cortez' army with only a few
- Spears and stones which now lay still
- In the mountains and remember.
- Greenrock Woman was the name
- Of that old lady who walked right up
- And spat in Columbus' face.
- We must remember that, and remember
- Laughing Otter the Taino who tried to stop
- Columbus and who was taken away as a slave.
- We never saw him again.
- In school I learned of heroic discoveries
- Made by liars and crooks. The courage
- Of millions of sweet and true people
- Was not commemorated.
- Let us then declare a holiday
- For ourselves, and make a parade that begins
- With Columbus' victims and continues
- Even to our grandchildren who will be named
- In their honor.
- Because isn't it true that even the summer
- Grass here in this land whispers those names,
- And every creek has accepted the responsibility
- Of singing those names? And nothing can stop
- The wind from howling those names around
- The corners of the school.
to the Frontpage
- Why else would the birds sing
- So much sweeter here than in other lands?