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Bertrand N. O. Walker

1870–1927

Bertrand Nicholas Oliver Walker, who published his poems under his Wyandot name, Hen-toh, was born in 1870. A member of the Oklahoma band of the Big Turtle Clan, he attended the Seneca Indian School and the public school in Seneca, Missouri. Walker took on an independent study for four years under the tutelage of a college professor local to his community. 

Walker is the author of the poetry collection Yon-Doo-Shah-We-Ah (Nubbins) (Harlow, 1924) and Tales of the Bark Lodges (Harlow, 1919), a book of Wyandot animal stories. He worked as an educator for many hears, and was the Chief Clerk of the Quapaw Agency at Miami at the time of his death in 1927.

By This Poet

3

A Song of a Navajo Weaver

For ages long, my people have been 
     Dwellers in this land;
For ages viewed these mountains,
     Loved these mesas and these sands,
That stretch afar and glisten,
     Glimmering in the sun
As it lights the mighty canons
     Ere the weary day is done.
Shall I, a patient dweller in this
     Land of fair blue skies,
Tell something of their story while
     My shuttle swiftly flies?
As I weave I’ll trace their journey,
     Devious, rough and wandering,
Ere they reached the silent region
     Where the night stars seem to sing.
When the myriads of them glitter
     Over peak and desert waste,
Crossing which the silent runner and
     The gaunt of co-yo-tees haste.
Shall I weave the zig-zag pathway
     Whence the sacred fire was born;
And interweave the symbol of the God
     Who brought the corn—
Of the Rain-god whose fierce anger
     Was appeased by sacred meal,
And the trust that my brave people
     In him evermore shall feel?
All this perhaps I might weave
     As the woof goes to and fro,
Wafting as my shuttle passes,
     Humble hopes, and joys and care,
Weaving closely, weaving slowly,
     While I watch the pattern grow;
Showing something of my life:
     To the Spirit God a prayer.
Grateful that he brought my people
     To the land of silence vast
Taught them arts of peace and ended
     All their wanderings of the past.
Deftly now I trace the figures,
     This of joy and that of woe;
And I leave an open gate-way
     For the Dau to come and go.

An Indian Love Song

Light o’ the lodge, how I love thee,
Light o’ the lodge, how I love thee,
         Mianza, my wild-wood fawn!
To wait and to watch for thy passing.
          On hill-top I linger at dawn.

Glimmer of morn, how I love thee, 
Glimmer of morn, how I love thee! 
      My flute to the ground now I fling,
      As you tread the steep trail to the spring,
For thy coming has silenced my song.

Shimmer of moon on the river,
Sheen of soft star on the lake!
     Moonlight and starlight are naught;
     Their gleam and their glow is ne’er fraught
With such love-light as falls from thine eyes.

A Mojave Lullaby 

Sleep, my little man-child, 
Dream-time to you has come. 

In the closely matted branches
Of the mesquite tree, 
The mother-bird has nestled 
Her little ones; see 
From the ghost-hills of your fathers, 
Purpling shadows eastward crawl, 
While beyond the western sky-tints pale 
As twilight spreads its pall. 

The eastern hills are lighted, 
See their sharp peaks burn and glow, 
With the colors the Great Sky-Chief 
Gave your father for his bow. 
Hush my man-child; be not frighted, 
'Tis the father's step draws nigh. 
O'er the trail along the river, 
Where the arrow-weeds reach high 
Above his dark head, see 
He parts them with his strong hands, 
As he steps forth into view. 
He is coming home to mother, 
Home to mother and to you. 
 
Sleep my little man-child, 
Daylight has gone. 
There's no twitter in the branches, 
Dream-time has come.