From the Great White Father to His Children

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Poems for
Indigenous
Peoples' Day

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Copyright by
Nicholas Gordon

Adapted from the Commissioner of Indian Affairs to All Indians, February 24, 1923:

Now,
What I want you to think about
Very seriously
Is that you must first of all
Try to make your own living,
Which you cannot do
Unless you work faithfully
And take care
Of what comes from your labor,
And go to dances or other meetings
Only when your home work
Will not suffer by it.

I do not want to deprive you
Of decent amusements
Or occasional feast days,
But you should not do evil
Or foolish things
Or take so much time
For these occasions.

No good comes
From your "give-away" custom
At dances
And it should be stopped.
It is not right
To torture your bodies
Or to handle poisonous snakes
In your ceremonies.
All such extreme things
Are wrong
And should be put aside
And forgotten.

You do yourselves
And your families
Great injustice
When at dances
You give away money
And other property,
Perhaps clothing,
A cow, a horse,
Or a team and wagon,
And then,
After an absence of several days,
Go home to find everything
Going to waste,
And yourselves
With less to work with
Than you had before.

I could issue an order
Against these useless
And harmful performances,
But I would much rather
You give them up
Of your own free will.
And, therefore,
I ask you now
In this letter
To do so.

If, at the end of one year,
The reports which I receive
Show that you are doing
As requested,
I shall be very glad,
For I will know
That you are making progress
In other
And more important ways.

But if the reports show
That you reject this plea,
Then some other course
Will have to be taken.

Copyright by Nicholas Gordon. Free for personal or non-commercial use.

Audio and Video Music: Pachabelly.
By Huma-Huma. Music free to use at YouTube.



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