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Wednesday, November 17, 2021


by Eileen Ivey Sirota

About 100 people, many of them Native Americans, held a protest in Pierre in September to push for improved teaching of Native American history and culture in South Dakota schools and to decry removal of Native references from proposed social studies standards. Photo: Courtesy DRG Media Group via Kelo, November 14, 2021.

All the white pages lovely, unspoiled
by time, untouched by torment.
All aboard. 
An uninterrupted arc of progress. 
Heroes on horseback.  See Dick and Jane
in their triumphant ignorance. 
We have torn you
from our history books, those fairy tales
for innocents and children.
Unseen and unheard are the children we ripped
from their mothers, sent away
to boarding schools to be laundered
and whitened, their mother tongue ripped out.
Kill the Indian and save the man,” proclaimed Richard Pratt
At the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania,
cradle their small bones.
From your mouths we tore         
the sacred place names and stamped them
on our suburban street signs.                                                 
So many ways of killing—the bullet, the blanket,
the exile, the pretending, the silence.                                   
The silence.
Eileen Ivey Sirota is a poet and psychotherapist, the author of a chapbook, Out of Order, published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.  Her poems also have appeared in Calyx, Ekphrastic Review, District Lines, The New Verse News, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly