07 April 2011

NaPoWriMo 7 ~ genocidal declarations

L. Frank Baum wrote the Wizard of Oz in 1900. It became a movie in the United States in 1939, and continues to be a hit today. From 1890-1891, Baum published a small newspaper in Aberdeen, South Dakota. In his editorials, he advocated for the extermination of American Indians. Uncovering the Wizard contains mostly Baum’s words from the end parentheses to "In 1876," although I did use some of my own words, and formatted Baum's like a poem. Here’s the source I used for the piece: L. Frank Baum’s Editorials on the Sioux Nation.

Uncovering the Wizard
Columbus saved the Indians from themselves.”
-Rush Limbaugh

The road to Oz is bricked in yellow veneer
polishing a sheen on L. Frank Baum’s
genocidal declarations.
(Peek now, behind the curtain.)

Their glory fled
spirit broken
manhood effaced—
better to die
than live as
miserable wretches .

Wronged for centuries
to protect civilization
we better follow with one more wrong
wipe these creatures
untamed and untamable
free from the face of the earth.

History will remember
these despicable beings
History will speak in later ages
of the glory
of these Kings of forest and plain
that Cooper loved to heroism.

The early Redskins of America
will be no more. We cannot
honestly regret their extermination.

In 1876, the Carlisle Indian Industrial School
took Captain Richard Henry Pratt's motto
as it's own: Kill the Indian and save the man!
scaffolding for cultural architects.

And now, we’re off to see the Wizard!

Thank you to Writer's Island for providing a place to post every day this month, and always on Saturdays.


flaubert said...

Brenda, I thank you for this painfully honest poem. I didn't know that about Baum. The plight of the American Indian is a sad part of our history.
Have you seen a documentary called "The West" produced by Ken Burns, it
would be something, I think you'd enjoy.


Marianne said...

I had no idea! I will never think of The Wizard Of Oz again without remembering this very powerful piece.

brenda w said...

~Pamela, Yes I've seen "The West" and did enjoy it. Another good movie is "Incident at Oglala." Robert Redford directs it. It explores the FBI's involvement on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Reservation in the 70s. It astounds me the things people do to each other.
~Marianne, I'm glad you stopped to read, and leave some words. Not many know about Baum's attitude toward Indians...which is one reason I put this piece together.

Andy Sewina said...

Phew, I didn't know that either, I often wonder what makes people so extreme in their thinking.

Well presented.

Stan Ski said...

Great piece!
I'll have to see the movie again and look for references to this side of his character.

M. A. S. said...

I haven't watched The Wizard of Oz in years (since I learned about Baum's editorials). The poem is brutally brilliant and honest. I especially like the image of "yellow veneer."

I kind of like the idea to write about Baum as a genocidal racist maniac. I may want to try something based on that myself.

Elizabeth said...

Thank you Brenda. This certainly changes the concepts that went into the Wizard's story. Natural, common sense magic, would probably have to be obliterated in this sort of mind. I love it what you have done, and once again applaud you for your seeking and your honesty.

The word verification is "ablers". Somehow so appropriate, here.


Gloria said...

This is such a powerful write, Brenda...amazing and eye-opening!