As part of our celebration of Native American Heritage Month, here's artist and poet Alex Jacobs' tribute to Santee Sioux activist, poet and musician John Trudell.
I know, I know, I been there
I feel it, I felt it, I been there
I’m scared; I’m scared of what I saw
Scared of what I felt, scared of my thoughts
Scared of knowledge, scared of wisdom
Scared of my ignorance, scared of my arrogance
I’m scared of my life
But I’m strong, strong for my son, strong for my daughter
I’m strong for my mom, she seen it all
I’m strong for my dad, worked himself to death
I’m strong for my loves, all these beautiful women
Who knew me better than I new my self.
I’m strong for my people, who have been captured, killed,
Put away, tortured, brainwashed, left out to dry.
Strong for my people who think I’m crazy
Strong for my people who can’t see the light no more
Strong for my people who fight every day
Strong for my people who will die far away from home
Strong for the sell-outs, the doubters, the vanished
The banished, the incarcerated, the cancerated, the polluted,
The chronic, the addicted, the consumerated, the consumed.
I’m strong for the traditional, the rational, the practical, the political.
I’m strong for my people who have given up
I’m strong for my people who have been beaten down
I’m strong for my people who have turned their lives around
I’m strong for my people who only care about things
And turned their lives into GNPs CODs ATMs MFAs MBAs MIAs
Degrees of disconnection, financial portfolios instead of dreams,
Visions of power replaced by coercion, corruption and greed.
As long as the money flows and the casino tables are green
As long as they think history can never be repeated
As long as they never read the signs or open their eyes
Or listen to elders who hear the earth cry
As long as they allow their own children to become
Indoctrinated by a system that built on lies.
I want to be strong, strong again
I’m scared, scared for my life
But I’m strong, strong again
Thank you, John…
Santa Fe 4/28/06, after viewing the Heather Rae documentary Trudell.
Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.