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The Payment: An Indigenous Day Poem

A poem by ICTMN contributor Richard Walker, dedicated to Indigenous Peoples of Turtle Island.

To all those conquistadors 

who came here and tried 
to replace our culture 
with their own: 

This is what the world 
shall know about you.

You were nothing but unwelcome 
visitors here,

you took our people’s?welcome, 

the welcome of our leaders, 

and answered with 
land lust and flesh lust 
and murder.

Here’s what we have done: 

We have kept your names 
and language as partial payment 
for the destruction you left 

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for lives lost, 
for rape and enslavement, 
for your gold lust. 
Let no one say 
we are Hispanic or Latino. 

We are Indigenous People. 
You did not change who 
we are.

The names we carry and 
the common language we speak, 
once possessed by you alone, 

belong to the Indigenous now, 

reminders to the world ?that you are gone, but 
we are still here. 

Let no one say these
are Spanish names—they are Mexican names;

or that the language we speak
is the Spanish language—
it is a Mexican language now.

Yes, when people hear our names
and when people hear us speak,
they will say,

“Ah, there is one who carries
the blood,
A child of The Survivors.”

Our People live on.