What It Means to be Native (Poetry Reading)

What it means to be Native

summer 2017

What it means to be Native
has evolved
I’m rehabilitative
you will recall
being so derogative
I have dissolved
your control
your authorities
your goals and
your priorities

Within the stitches that you sew
into the front pocket
of a pattern you borrowed
comes the heartache you’ll never face
and a history you’ll never replace
comes the hard truth you’ll never know
and a history your people never showed

What it means to be Native
is not yours to define
moments that are creative
are not yours to outshine
like the women’s knife
oral traditions
and our way of life
spiritual acquisitions

Within the ugruk that you cut
down the belly of a spirit
you got offered by luck
comes the truth you’ll never carry
even if you picked all the creator’s berries
comes the past you may not own
even if your child’s definitely Native grown

What it means to be Native
is not a fifty page honors paper
you are not innovative
when you try to be a culture shaper
or when you call yourself the elite
and then wonder why in the world I retreat
your perspectives
your masks
your objectives and
even your flasks
when filled with pure whiskey
I know in the heart within me
you’ll never understand me
and with your backhand I see
where your intentions truly live
and because of those
I will not forgive

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