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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


May 17, 2003 - Issue 87


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History of the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians of Michigan
Chapter Thirteen

by ANDREW J. BLACKBIRD, Late U.S. Interpreter, Harbor Springs, Emmet Co., Mich.
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)

The Lamentation of the Overflowing Heart of the Red Man of the Forest

Hark! What is that I hear,
So mournfully ringing in my ear,
Like a death song of warriors,
For those who fell by their brave sires?
Is this the wail now sounding
For my unhappy future?
O my destiny, my destiny!

How sinks my heart, as I behold my inheritance all in ruins and desolation. Yes, desolation; the land the Great Spirit has given us in which to live, to roam, to hunt, and build our council fires, is no more to behold. Where once so many brave Algonquins and the daughters of the forest danced with joy, danced with gratitude to the Great Spirit for their homes, they are no more seen. Our forests are gone, and our game is destroyed. Hills, groves and dales once clad in rich mantle of verdure as stripped. Where is this Promised Land, which the Great Spirit had given to his red children as the perpetual inheritance of their posterity from generation to generation? Ah, the pale-faces who have left their fathers' land, far beyond the ocean, have now come and dispossessed us of our heritage with cruel deceit and force of arms. Still are they rolling on, and rolling on, like a mighty spray from the deep ocean, overwhelming the habitations of nature's children. Is it for the deeds of Pocahontas, of Massasoit, of Logan, and hosts of others who have met and welcomed the white men in their frail cabin doors when they were few in numbers, cold and hungry? Is it for this that we have been plundered, and expelled at the point of the bayonet from the hallowed of our brothers and sires? O, my father, thou has taught me from my infancy to love this land of my birth; thou has even taught me to say that "it is the gift of the Great Spirit," when yet my beloved mother clasped me close to her peaceful breast while she sang of the warlike deeds of the great Algonquins. O, my father, our happiest days are o'er, and never again shall we enjoy our forest home. The eagle's eye could not even discover where once stood the wigwam and thy peaceful council fire. Ah, once it was the happy land, and all the charms were there which made every Indian heart swell with thanks to the Great Spirit for their happy homes. Melodious music was heard in every grove, sung by the wild birds of the forest, which mingled their notes sweetly with the wild chant of my beloved sisters at eve. They sang the song of lullaby to the papoose of the red man whilst swinging in the cradle from the shady trees, wafted gracefully to and fro by the restless wind. The beautiful old basswood tree bending so gracefully stood there, and the brown thrush sang with her musical voice. The Great Spirit planted that tree there for me to sport under, when I could scarcely bend my little bow. Ah, I watched that tree from childhood to manhood, and it was the dearest spot to me in this wide world. Many happy youthful days have I spent under this beautiful shady tree. But alas, alas, the white man's ax has been there! The tree that my good spirit had planted for me, where once the pretty brown thrush daily sat with her musical voice, is cut down by the ruthless hands of the white man. 'Tis gone; gone forever and mingled with the dust. Oh, my happy little bird, thy warbling songs have ceased, and thy voice shall never again be heard on that beautiful shady tree. My charming bird, how oft thou hast aroused me from my slumber at early morn with thy melodious song. Ah, could we but once more return to our forest glade and tread as formerly upon the soil with proud and happy heart! On the hills with bended bow, while nature's flowers bloomed all around the habitation of nature's child, our brothers once abounded, free as the mountain air, and their glad shouts resounded from vale to vale, as they chased o'er the hills the mountain roe and followed in the otter's track. Oh return, return! Ah never again shall this time return. It is gone, and gone forever like a spirit passed. The red man will never live happy nor die happy here any more. 'Tis passed, 'tis done. The bow and quiver with which I have shot many thousands of game is useless to me now, for the game is destroyed. When the white man took every foot of my inheritance, he thought to him I should be the slave. Ah never, never! I would sooner plunge the dagger into may beating heart, and follow the footsteps of my forefathers, than be slave to the white man. Mack-e-te-be-nessy.

Chapter 12

Chapter 14

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