Fresh from residential boarding schools,
Our sacred sites in the sandboxes of children
Who will never read our histories in their books.
Are we all gone? they ask, and we pray your grandchildren
Won’t be the ones who rob our grandchildren
Of the black coal, black oil, black snake profits seeping from
The wounds ripped across our ancestors’ graves.
I wonder how many indigenous languages have a word for
Or how many interpret it as intrinsic?
I’ll never forget the rush, the prayers I felt,
Clean air swirling with the smoke of fires
Used to cook communal meals, where no one asked
Why are you here? — What’s your blood quantum?
Colorful ribbons blowing in the wind,
An eagle watching from the sky in the shadow of a plane.
A helicopter, anxious to film the violence that never came from our side.
What lies do you perpetuate, that we don’t pay taxes?
That we get checks from the government?
That our casinos make us rich, or that we all drink?
You tell us to stop crying about representation when
Hundreds of tribal nations have united against Energy Transfer, yet
Neither Trump nor Clinton mentioned us once in their debates?
I’m asked, “Don’t you have bigger things to worry about?”
When I fight racist mascots, when I argue that it is a big deal
To be a minority of minorities. Being told how to be. To be treated as less.
To be sexualized, seen as a costume, when 1 in 3 Native women are raped,
To be bullied in schools, when Native youth commit suicide at the highest rates,
What can you tell me that I don’t already know? #MMIW, have you even heard?
No physical pain brought to me at Standing Rock
Will ever equal the pain if our sovereignty is lost in this fight.
We are dual citizens of America. Because they say we have to be.