In the Poets’ Corner, during November, we are celebrating National Native American Heritage month.
Beginning with President Calvin Coolidge in 1915, presidents of the United States have signed proclamations designating periods to honor our Native American Heritage. In 2016 President Barack Obama proclaimed November as Native American Heritage month.
Joy Harjo, a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation was named the twenty-third Poet Laureate of the United States in 2019. Harjo, a poet, musician and author, is an important figure in the second wave of the literary Native American Renaissance of the late twentieth century. She is also the first Native American United States Poet Laureate. Since she published her debut collection, in 1975, she has produced eight books of poetry, a memoir, and children’s books.
Richard Calmit Adams, a member of the Delaware Tribe, was born August 23, 1867 in Wyandotte County, Kansas. In 1867 the U. S. government demanded the Delaware Tribe members relocate from Kansas to lands in the Cherokee Nation, which would later become Oklahoma. Two of Adams’ uncles were chiefs of the tribal nation.
Adams grew up herding cattle, running a store, operating a timber business and published five books about the Delaware culture and history. Many of his books also featured poems about his peoples’ legends and their political rights.
by Richard Calmit Adams
When the waters were so mighty
As to reach the mountains high,
And it seemed that all creation
Surely then was doomed to die,
Came the turtle to our rescue,
Brought us safely unto land,
For the Manitou has sent him;
Now we’re called “The Turtle Clan.”
The Wolf band comes from children,
Whom a she-wolf nursed with care,
And thus restored the children
Who were giv’n up in despair.
Her wailing brought the hunters
To the babies where they lay;
So a band among the people
Is “The Wolf Clan” of to-day.
When the tribe was once in danger,
A wild turkey gave alarm,
And the warriors met the foeman
With the fury of a storm.
To a maiden, in a vision,
Did the turkey show the plan,
And we call all her descendants
To this day “The Turkey Clan.”
This poem is in the public domain.
Find more at: poets.org
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