Get Your Premium Membership

Soul Stance River - 14

6 miles up river Arikara are encountered,
they are a people of amenable disposition and are agrarians,
they chuckle with sympathy as we inform them of our grizzly confrontation
and they tell us that disease had forced them to abandon the village down river last year,
many of their folk were lost, including trusted Elders
and now they are at the mercy of the Sioux more than ever
although their trading relationship be symbiotic,
they till and exchange food stuffs for protection and amenities, 
living with this tribe is a trapper named Joseph Gravelines
whom is fluent in several native languages and personable as a pirate
so Clark and I have hired him as a translator, 
he is convinced of our credit
because it is issued directly from the President and is unlimited,
after eating a wholesome meal of squash, yams and pork
we commence with a military tribunal for Private Newman,
he is charged with inciting mutiny
and a jury of 10 peers will judge him, myself and Clark having final verdict as Captains,
he denies the allegation with a cocky indifference
the witnesses are credible as gold coin, confirming Newman's treachery,
unlike Moses Reed whom we had punished by the gauntlet
for sleeping on gaurd duty in August
Newman will receive 75 lashes and be discharged from the mission,
undermining leadership is too dangerous an act under these circumstances
he is lucky not to be summarily executed which Chief Crow At Rest thinks more just,
tonight we will allow some of the men to lay with the Arikara women
for it is their custom to fornicate with men of unique power
with the husband's consent, the warriors believing
that they will absorb special abilities laying with their wives afterwards,

October is saying farewell with the kiss of a crying Queen
and we are far into the northwest of Louisiana Territory
in what some call the Dakotas, Canada is about 200 miles north,
so far the Corps of Discovery has traveled 900 miles from St. Louis
discipline is good, confidence strong, provisions be plenty and achievement attainable,
the Mandan homeland is alive on the horizon in the flat plains
and we are expecting to live here, as the Mandan's humble neighbor
during this winter of 1804-05,
rowing into dock with the resolve and respect of diplomatic frontiersmen
we are quickly allayed of any fears by a jubilant multitude
which hoists me up on an elegant buffalo robe of royal blue
with symbols of celestial favor painted white and yellow,
claws of bears and large turquoise stones emblematical of invincible stars
hang alternately from the edges,
the crowd opens up as six prominent tribe members carry me along,
a shaman, medicine man, a virgin girl,
deputy chief, decorated warrior, and an artisan,
I feel important, honored, and responsible for the union of two cultures,

My God the village is immense,
more than a hundred circular hide lodges speckle the naked landscape
some as large as a pond, thousands of inhabitants are milling about,
stations for crafts, food prep, weapon manufacture, nurseries and stables,
Gravelines informs me that the population is 4, 000 strong with 1, 400 warriors,
Clark and I better make friends or we will die before the fire gets old,
one reason for the kind reception is that the Mandans and their cousin tribe the Hidatsas
are well accustomed to foreigners,  their world renown emporium
is a marketplace for the Northwest Trading Company, Hudson Bay Company,
the Spanish, French, English, Jesuits, Russians,
and every Indian tribe on the continent worth their weight in lead,
they are truly a powerhouse culture that can war with the best
and trade with any crown,
that being known, the Mandans still have their squabbles
with the Arikara, Sioux, and Black Feet,
traditions impell them to battle the other tribes,

J.A.B.

Copyright © | Year Posted 2015




Post Comments
Please Login to post a comment
Date: 12/25/2015 9:01:00 PM
I'm learning quite a lot through your vibrant rendition, Justin, and I am really enjoying the read. The generous, joyous multitude of the Mandans is lovely to read about- I like that they dressed Lewis in the blue buffalo robe- very beautifully described. : ) Always, Laura
Login to Reply
Bordner Avatar
Justin Bordner
Date: 12/26/2015 4:37:00 PM
Continued...The very first encounter with the Mandans was such a pivotal moment, my vision, coupled with the basics of the historical account was such a thrill to experience, I felt Lewis' elation, and sense of responsibility and the robe's symbols, along with the ceremony were such a magical moment in my mind, and the perfect situation to emphasize his respect for culture and diplomacy. He had a duty to establish good relations, and he succeeded. I believe I've honored his efforts...J.A.B.
Bordner Avatar
Justin Bordner
Date: 12/26/2015 4:22:00 PM
Sweet Laura, one reason why I love you is for your insatiable interest in World History, like me, you consume the spirit continuum of humanity through the Ages to better appreciate the Present, and to feed your beautiful blooming soul which glows golden in your brilliant poetry. Yes, the Mandans were the most gracious and sophisticated Plains Indians...J.A.B.
Date: 12/20/2015 6:37:00 PM
Hi Justin, hope you are well. I was passing through this large and wonderful selection of poems. Outstanding. Sorry, I have to take a break right here.... ~SKAT LOVE~
Login to Reply
Bordner Avatar
Justin Bordner
Date: 12/21/2015 3:14:00 AM
Yeah Skat, there were times while I was composing this epic, pressing my stamina to it's limits where I said the same thing to myself :) Your love is good for me, thank you Poetess...J.A.B.