Sunday, April 8, 2012

Notable Quotable

Here is another beautiful poem by EChamberlain, MD who graced me with his beautiful imagery once again.  When I go to see the prairie this fall,  I will be thinking of "a land rolling like wild horses run".  Thank you,  E.

Here is a link to the original comment.


Because you liked the nature imagery of "Like A Rose Explodes," I thought you'd like this somber tribute to the Dakota Indians, whose heritage is marked by, above all things, a closeness with nature. I worked for a couple months at the Indian Health Service hospital in Pine Ridge South Dakota, a place that has since been featured in a segment on, I think it was, 20/20, documenting the extreme poverty and desperation there. Before I took the position there, I read up on how striking the poverty is there. Shocking and sobering. Around my last day there, I took a drive across the rolling hills on the reservation, just to wander around, and the words "a land rolling like wild horses run" came to mind and the lyrics here below wrote themselves. 

Though I don't mention it in the lyrics, I was also bummed when I realized, while there, that christian churches have replaced, at least in part, the Indian natural philosophy.


The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 required the American government to protect the Lakota and their lands from the incursion of the white man. But in 1874 Custer announced the discovery of gold in Dakota's Black Hills, triggering a gold rush into sacred Lakota territory and the American government violated its treaty and protected the miners along their path to gold, a path that whites called "Freedom's Trail" but the Lakota called "Thieve's Road." In 1881, Helen Hunt Jackson published "A Century of Dishonor," the first detailed examination of the federal government’s treatment of Native Americans in the West, shocking the nation with proof that empty promises, broken treaties, and brutality helped pave the way for white pioneers. (Adapted/ excerpted from

To this day, those building the Crazy Horse Monument-- not far from Mount Rushmore but dwarfing it in size in South Dakota's Black Hills-- refuse American government tax dollars to help with the construction because accepting the white man's money would violate the spirit of the monument-- therefore the line in the lyrics here: "No eagle [the symbol of America] casts a shadow on the monument..."

In a land
Rolling like wild horses run.
No second hand.
Just the clockwork of the circling sun.
Dakota winds
Lift feathers of the lofty one.
There stands
The first, the one true American.

In the years 
Before the new ones come
Dakota spirit 
Moves out free among
Black hills 
Where tent stakes of the sky are hung,
Standing near 
Where right-here-and-now are from.

But gold dust gathers 
On the western front.
Wildlife scatters 
As before the hunt.
The wind foretells
What the new ones want--
What prey that staggers 
Will this day confront.

The gold rush rumbles 
Like a beating drum.
A white unwelcome 
Blizzard brings the winter months.
Settlers storm in
And the unsettling comes.
The thunder grumbles, 
Indian Summer's done.

Arrows fall fast 
Under the setting sun.
The pistol blasts 
Gun powder on the moccasin.
Dakota stands
Hardfast against the gun.
But its smoke signals forecast
How the west is won.

Many moons have passed
Since when those days begun.
Still no eagle casts
A shadow on the monument
Of another past
That held another future once.
Dakota stood fast
Til its death was done.
The first, the last,
The one true American.


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