Moments Hard to Piece Together

A diptych with a photo on the left of a statue of two men shaking hands with a sign that says, "Welcome to Skeedee" and, on the right, a photograph of indigenous headdress on the hood of a BMW
Photos: “Skedee” and “Cherokee National Holiday — Tahlequah,” from In The Territories, by Shane Brown 

American Indians should stop weeping over
     the cruelty
of the trail of tears and the long march.
The day will arrive when the elders will cover
and bury their hearts in the red earth.
Their grandchildren will run out of despair
and the nightmare of the conquered by kneeling
to offer sweet pollen at the graves of warrior dreamers,
take up the staff of resistance that the old stories
promised was the one and only way to survive.

Duane Niatum (Jamestown S’Klallam) writes poems, stories, and essays and studies European and American Indian art, literature, and culture. He has been widely published in the United States and abroad (see “Moments Hard to Piece Together,” WLT, Autumn 2019). His ninth book of poems is Earth Vowels. The Northwest landscape and legends of his ancestors help shape his writings.