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Honour – with this spirit blessed

Buffy Sainte Marie

Buffy Sainte Marie

Buffy Sainte-Marie was an orphan, adopted out of her Cree tribe, raised in Maine where she was virtually the only Indian. Re-adopted by her tribe she re-connected with her ethnic roots. Training to be a teacher she wrote songs one of which was the iconic Universal Soldier now known in virtually every country of the world. An indefatiguable campaigner for Indian rights she has poured most of the money from 150+ songs back into work for her people. She earned two degrees and a PhD in Fine Art. Her latest CD ‘Running For The Drum’ proves that her commitment, her talent and her passion for her people remains undimmed after 40 years. She lectures around the world on environmental issues especially the exploitation of Indian land for uranium – creating toxic conditions for the Indians who have title but are denied control of their now tiny lands.

This poem is a celebration of the life of a most remarkable multi-faceted, multi-talented woman – still going strong. Anyone who knows her work will recognise 3 lines in this poem that pick up on lines from her most influential songs.

(www.creative-native.com/)(www.cradleboard.org/) (www.nihewan.org/)

Blood Of Chieftains

Undocumented
the when-born child
only knew from where
her ancient roots
were torn
head and heartstrong she
survived in alien soil
same-sun warmed
but solitary choked
on stale and empty air
breathed by those
who tore her – wronged
from the earth spirit
of her ancestral line
who would call her back
back where she belonged

Heart and spirit once rejoined
the blood of chieftains flowed
genes of honour learned
of justice long denied
and indignation burned
at a nation’s genocide

Injustice does not shout
it whispers
why are you hurting me
She took this unheard pain
and threaded it with melody
hey Iktomi* – look, no look and see
how deep is your dishonour
in dishonouring me.

In all the intervening years
of heartbreak and delight
of private solitary tears
she challenged might with right
listen to the truth and see
our pain is profiting you
now out-waited and unheard
to you we have become
in this money-changers’ Eden
you have built
a silent people
children seen not heard
hair cut, clothes pressed – safe
in the pretty parlours
of a nation’s guilt

Poundmaker’s spirit lives
as the warrior woman sings
of the peace that wisdom gives
of love and cherished land
of death and desolation
the half-life toxic shaman brings
With eloquently outstretched hand
she beckons – follow me
come understand my people
their medicine will set you free
from exploitation, self and greed
without this we will never
share this fragile earth
unless we can agree
there is another way to love her.

*(Iktomi – In Lakota stories, a spider-trickster spirit. Sometimes aptly used for the white man).

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