Gone, the sun dance, gone, the beat of the drum,
forbidden by the phantoms who stole us away.
No dreamcatchers here so the nightmares come,
and lashes from thick belts bully our play,
branding even the youngest Ojibwa
who ache for family, long for their lands,
but dare not speak what their tribal hearts say
as church and state slowly blanch the red man.
Beneath my skin, I hear the Great Spirit hum
as the priest yells of sins on Sabbath day.
Bellies are empty, we scrounge for small crumbs
on scrawny knees while we’re forced to pray
before we drink blood to kill our wicked ways.
My native tongue has been muted and banned,
but visions tell tales, old memories stay
though church and state slowly blanch the red man.
The circle of life hides from the sacrarium,
my warm wiigiwaam is so far, far away,
we feel the cold as we’re taught decorum,
and the girl who’s stood since dawn now sways
but she remains like a totem on proud display.
Each hour seems whiter, part of their plan,
we scrub with bleach, read Psalms, tearfully obey
for church and state slowly blanch the red man.
Weep for the taken and the peace English betray
for they sent us to hell to say that we’re damned,
as we witnessed our birthright first pale then decay
while church and state tried to blanch the red man.
*This ballade uses slant rhyme and loosened syllable counts intentionally.
For more information and to read of the near ethnocide of First Nations People: --- http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/story/2008/05/16/f-faqs-residential-schools.html