Languages die beneath tongues silenced
in schools designed to transform little Indians
into assimilated copies of the dutiful US.
The great white father molded death
with agrarian paradigms
and words shoved down throats.
God the Father, household tasks and
and shut your dirty Indian mouth
covered the curriculum.
One weekend per month at home
sent Cheyenne syllables swirling silently
through Tongue River eddies.
I wrote this in response to the chapter on language in "We the Northern Cheyenne People," written at Chief Dull Knife College in Lame Deer, Montana. The chapter reports that in 2007, the youngest person who spoke fluent Cheyenne was 45 years old.
If you happen to visit, I miss you my poet friends. When my college class is over in mid December, I'll be back with greater regularity.