You know, I don't really write (or read) as often as I used to. At one point in my life I was a voracious reader and also dreamed of being a writer. Ran across the meme of "Dear Native Youth" again today, which was created earlier this spring in response to a sudden increase in suicides by Native youth living on reservations over the previous months. Thinking about it ended up inspiring me to write a poem, which I am sharing below.
Dear Native Youth
You come from a people
Who have occupied these lands
Since time immemorial.
You live in a city, or perhaps on the rez,
And you are an island
Surrounded by an ocean of white privilege.
You are more than a cartoon
Of an Indian princess,
Or a war-whooping mascot.
You are the seventh generation of now,
And your ancestors never dreamed
Or wanted this American life for you.
But here you are,
Against the odds.
Stand tall and take a deep breath.
Feel the earth under your feet as you dance.
Sing loudly to your brothers and sisters,
To the plants and animals,
To the rivers and rocks and sky,
So that they know you care.
Because we are still here.
Look to your elders to teach you of the past.
Look in the mirror to learn who you are.
Look at the babies being born who may outlive you.
You, and what you do, has value.
Because there is no one right way
To be Native in this world today.