Changing Is Not Vanishing

Who says the Indian race is vanishing?
The Indians will not vanish.
The feathers, paint and moccasin will vanish, but the Indians,—never!
Just as long as there is a drop of human blood in America, the Indians will not
       vanish.
His spirit is everywhere; the American Indian will not vanish.
He has changed externally but he has not vanished.
He is an industrial and commercial man, competing with the world; he has not
       vanished.
Wherever you see an Indian upholding the standard of his race, there you see
       the Indian man—he has not vanished.
The man part of the Indian is here, there and everywhere.
The Indian race vanishing? No, never! The race will live on and prosper forever.

Related Poems

An American Sunrise

We were running out of breath, as we ran out to meet ourselves. We
Were surfacing the edge of our ancestors’ fights, and ready to Strike.
It was difficult to lose days in the Indian bar if you were Straight.
Easy if you played pool and drank to remember to forget. We
Made plans to be professional—and did. And some of us could Sing
When we drove to the edge of the mountains, with a drum. We
Made sense of our beautiful crazed lives under the starry stars. Sin
Was invented by the Christians, as was the Devil, we sang. We
Were the heathens, but needed to be saved from them: Thin
Chance. We knew we were all related in this story, a little Gin
Will clarify the dark, and make us all feel like dancing. We
Had something to do with the origins of blues and jazz
I argued with the music as I filled the jukebox with dimes in June,

Forty years later and we still want justice. We are still America. We.

Smuggling Cherokee

1.
I unroll my map
And a photocopy
Of the palm of my left hand,
Weigh down the corners with
A fist sized chunk of peach colored flint, a
Barite rose
Some gypsum and
A piece of ruby jack
Then set in to work.

2.
There is a certain art
To a good mistranslation.

3.
I remember rage and impatient violence.
These days
I’m more likely
To pile river rocks in the bathtub
For love of smooth things
Things as edgeless as I can have them.

4.
The man asks me
“Do you speak Cherokee”
But it’s all I ever speak
The end goal of several generations of a
Smuggling project.
We’ve slipped the barriers
Evaded border guards.
I smile,
“Always.”

America, I Sing Back

for Phil Young, my father, Robert Hedge Coke, Whitman, and Hughes

America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.
Sing back the moment you cherished breath.
Sing you home into yourself and back to reason.

Oh, before America began to sing, I sung her to sleep,
held her cradleboard, wept her into day.
My song gave her creation, prepared her delivery,
held her severed cord beautifully beaded.

My song helped her stand, held her hand for first steps,

nourished her very being, fed her, placed her three sisters strong.
My song comforted her as she battled my reason

broke my long held footing sure, as any child might do.

Lo, as she pushed herself away, forced me to remove myself,
as I cried this country, my song grew roses in each tear’s fall.

My blood veined rivers, painted pipestone quarries
circled canyons, while she made herself maiden fine.

Oh, but here I am, here I am, here, I remain high on each and every peak,
carefully rumbling her great underbelly, prepared to pour forth singing—

and sing again I will, as I have always done.

Never silenced unless in the company of strangers, singing

the stoic face, polite repose, polite, while dancing deep inside, polite
Mother of her world. Sister of myself.

When my song sings aloud again. When I call her back to cradle.
Call her to peer into waters, to behold herself in dark and light,

day and night, call her to sing along, call her to mature, to envision—

Then, she will make herself over. My song will make it so

When she grows far past her self-considered purpose,
I will sing her back, sing her back. I will sing. Oh, I will—I do.

America, I sing back. Sing back what sung you in.