“A Culture Almost Gone” (Poetry Reading)

A Culture Almost Gone


summer 2014

a little girl learns to dance one day, while her brother plays the drum.
they sing the songs from yesterday, and they do it just for fun.

behind each dance and
within each song
lies the truth of our story
“a culture almost gone”

we learn to live by the ilitqusiat, a list of seventeen cultural traits.
but in that list we forgot to mention, dancing is an inupiaq invention.

at the tips of our tongues
and the breath of our lungs
comes the truth we ignore
“we might sing these no more”

we build our youth
through subsistence
then dismiss the spiritual existence
within the animals that we kill
connected to our own heart’s will

our faith may change
or vary and differ
but values remain
just like the big dipper
or caribou in the sky
and the moon in a rise
our men
will soon
arrive
with old drums in their hand
and our songs by heart
here, we sing
and here, we stand
our spirit
is just
a reflection
of our land

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