Written by: Soulfire

I was taken from this life 
in the black night, blindfolded 
to be clubbed to death

so that I 
might be born again 
in spirit song, dance and name 
given by my great ancestor

who, ten thousand years ago or more,
crossed the Bering land bridge from 
Siberia to Cowichan and the Salish Sea
warm land of the raven, 
the black bear and the salmon.

I have suffered 
four hundred years 
of dislocation of the soul 
in this barren culture, nameless
but for “primitive squaw.”

I have lost 
Tamanawas, the sacred ritual dance 
the Potlatch feast of giving and 
my children and my language.

I will endure 
four days and nights
confined and cold and hungry
while all around the rhythmic pulse
of elders’ drumming, chanting

guides me back in time and space 
to voices still resounding
stories of a dancing flame
light upon the earth

And I will rise in cedar forests 
and walk the clamshell middens
feel our language on my skin 
and see with startled eyes new life
the Soulfire I’ve been given.  


This was for the Shaman's Way contest but I think I missed it. 

Cowichan --used to be pronounced coWEEchan now it's usually  said like, Cow i chan.

The Canadian government outlawed many Coast Salish practices until the 1960's--the Spirit Quest, Potlatch feast and 
Tamanwas dance among them. Children were placed in residential schools, away from their families, and were forbidden 
to speak their mother tongue. More recently, the spirit quest ritual has been revived as (loosely) described in the 
poem. However, it is also now used as a form of "intervention" to help address an array of problems frequently 
attributed to colonization (e.g., drug and alcohol misuse).  So, where in the past, young people would go off into the 
forest voluntarily, it is now often the case, (at least in Cowichan) that young people are taken from their beds in the 
night. Initiates are first symbolically "clubbed to death" then "reborn" after multiple days of  ritual practices.