Painted Brave … a Poem Inspired by Misguided Thinking

crazy horseYears ago, I read the book Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee by Dee Brown, about the systematic displacement and annihilation of Native Americans by white settlers and the US government during the 1800s. It was a startling revelation for me, a kid who grew up believing the Hollywood version of the wild west … the one that depicted Native Americans as ruthless, blood thirsty savages. Brown’s book told the truth and it wasn’t pleasant.

What type of thinking was it that led people to think this was okay. The same type of thinking I suppose that caused Europeans to round up Africans and ship them off to North America to serve as slaves. The same type of thinking that prompted Hitler to murder six million Jews and five million others, and that motivated Stalin to murder 20 million more souls. It’s the same type of thinking that exists today in places like China, North Korea, Syria, Afghanistan and countries all over the world. Thinking borne of unconsciousness by people who are ignorant of our divine connection with God and each other. Thinking borne from a deep rooted belief that I am worthless, and therefore, I’m going to make you feel even more worthless.

The book inspired me to write a poem. It’s an ode to Native Americans as a whole, and more specifically, to Tashunka Witco, better known as Crazy Horse, the Oglala Souix chief who defeated General Custer at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876. This epic battle, although won by the Sioux, ironically signaled the end of the native resistance.

Both the book and the poem actually took on new meaning when I learned some years later about my own native heritage … a great-great-great grandmother on my mother’s side of the family.

Painted Brave

A proud and feathered brave

With mind of peaceful sea

Yearns for the old ways

Of peace pipe and teepee

He watched from high on hilltop

The white wave sweep his land

Annihilate the buffalo

Turn corn field into sand

The noblest native elders

Betrayed by greedy thiefs

Slaughtered like wild animals

The warriors and the chiefs

Geronimo and Red Cloud

Totanka and Cochise

Oglala and Apache

Cheyenne and Cherokee

Tashunka took the Bighorn

Where Long Hair made his name

The last stand of his people

The Sioux forced off the plain

The heart that held a nation

At Wounded Knee would save

Tashunka Witko, the Crazy Horse

Is free and painted brave

Have an awesomely brave day!

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6 comments on “Painted Brave … a Poem Inspired by Misguided Thinking

  1. WOW Fred! Thank you for sharing that… I will be passing it on.. My Great Grand mother was 100% Cherokee Indian and she shared stories with my Grand mother of horrific things. It is sad how Hollywood creates what they want instead of the truth.

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