As we near the close of Native American Heritage Month, I decided to share a poem I wrote last year that focuses on the heartache and loss that came to so many of the American Indian tribes at the hands of greedy people and government agencies. This particular poem emphasizes the history of the Cherokee people because they are part of my personal heritage. But we want to remember that every tribe was affected negatively — even in heart-breaking ways — and unfortunately, all the prejudice and ill-treatment has not completely disappeared yet.
Today the old chief passed,
Enwreathed by potent memories
Of battles fierce, of freedoms lost,
Of smoking pipe with enemies
Who swore to keep the peace treaties
But quickly spurned such promises
When greed for lands gained upper hand.
Today the old chief passed
And hastened to his ancestors,
To mountains, valleys, fertile plains,
Sparkling rivers, fields of grain,
Miles and miles of vast domain
Where Cherokee live free again,
Never again to be betrayed.
The old chief passed today.