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little bones

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little bones
stood strong 
ran freely
prairie grass-tickled
sun-blessed faces

little bones
danced in regalia
as fathers drummed 
beautiful native tongue
rising across the plains

little bones
angled softly into
mother's arms 
treasured gift from Creator

little bones
stolen, broken
tears rushed
spirits crushed

little bones rest
wait for the light
wings of love
take flight

For dVerse Poets Pub. Lisa is our host. Write a 44 word poem (excluding the title) but including the word "stand". 

***Notes:  Here in Canada we are asked to post the 24 hour National Crisis Line for those who may be triggered by the recount of Indian Residential Schools, so I will start with that. 

It would take over 5,000 quadrilles to even begin to express the pain, shame and anger that so many of us feel towards the continuous discoveries and recoveries of precious Indigenous children. Having worked in a Native American daycare, it hurts my heart. Residential "schools" were prisons. Children were stolen from loving families. They were abused physically, emotionally, sexually and spiritually by priests, nuns, ministers and administrators.  This took place over a span of more than 150 years in Canada and the U.S.A.  Innocent children as young as three years old were forcibly taken from loving parents, had their traditional hair cut and stripped of their own clothing. Their spoken language was prohibited and punished. They were undernourished, under-nurtured and many never saw their parents again. Many families were never told what happened to their children. It is shocking to think that anyone during my lifetime was capable of such evil, especially under the semblance of any 'religion" or government. Generations of Indigenous families have been impacted from the abuse and loss. Residential "School" survivors suffer today and inter generational trauma moves forward without proper acknowledgement and assistance. 
The TRUTH has been ignored and hidden by church and government, but the voices of these little bones can be heard. 
Let's listen, learn and stand up. 
I hope you find the time to research and read the stories of Residential "School" survivors. Many of them have only now found the courage to speak about their painful experiences. To evolve we must be educated.

40 responses »

  1. It is horrible. I can’t imagine the pain those children, their families, and descendants have endured. It’s a shameful story.
    Thank you for sharing for those who might not know about it.

    We recently watched a movie that took place in New Zealand, where they took a Maori girl away from her family and put her in a state residential school.

  2. Mish, your words acutely convey the sorrow felt about the attempted genocide of a culture through systematic removal of the children from the homes of First Peoples families, The reality of it is another of those shames humankind will never recover from. Reparations need to be made but how can any restoration of these little bones be possible. Education and trauma processing can help but…

    I’ve seen a couple of movies in the past year or so that at least acknowledge the harm in an educational way:
    “Indian Horse” (2017)
    “Let Him Go” (2020)

    • Thanks, Lisa for your thoughtful comment. I want to believe that we will move forward as we are trying now to listen and absorb the truth that most of us were unaware of, break the stereotypes, support the survivors, honour those that never returned and most importantly view this as a long process, not something we forget about in a couple weeks. The numbers are climbing.

      • You’re welcome. I agree with everything you say here. The climbing numbers … why now, after so many years of purposeful cover-up, are they coming to light? Maybe things are moving in the right direction?

      • It began in Kamloops, B.C with an independent investigation by First Nations. These stories have been told by survivors for years. Families spoke of the abuse and children that never returned home. We had over 150 “schools” in Canada. Many survivors are grandparents of children I have worked with. This is not history. Survivors are still here struggling today from what they endured. That is passed down. How does one know love after spending a decade without it as a child? I’m sure there are 80-90 year old nuns and priests here today living a full life after abusing (and killing) children for years. The focus is now moving to the U.S as well. 367 more schools to search with ground penetrating radar. Sadly that is where the idea of residential schools began in the 1800’s and Canada followed suit. Assimilation, racism, child abuse in every way possible, murder. I promise , anyone who reads a few residential school survivor stories will be shocked. Sorry….a very passionate topic for me.

      • Thank you for the additional information. I know there are 3 in Michigan and one of those isn’t far from here. What’s strange in the case of the Mount Pleasant one (oh the irony of that name) the State mysteriously gave the land it rests on to the tribe. Trying to wiggle out of accountability? I remember reading and watching stories of Nazi hunters. I think we need nun, priest, and other accomplice personnel hunters to be appointed. How the Catholic Church was drawn into this campaign of abuse and genocide is another whole question.

      • I would sign up for that. I believe in their minds that they truly believed assimilation was acceptable. The abuse and neglect…that was carried out by individual so called “religious” people. Yes, they need to be hunted down.

  3. Absolutely heartbreaking. Humanity always shows its evils, but this one is especially shocking and horrifying to me in different ways. So much pain to the families, I can’t even begin to imagine.

  4. You’ve packed a lot of punch into your 44 words Mish. To think of little bones as anything other than cherished within a healthy thriving body is unthinkable. Yet think about it we must, because it happened and could happen again.

  5. Beverly Crawford

    Such tender and poignant capture of the tragedy of the Indian schools and a country’s shame. White men have so much shame to account for.

  6. That final rhyming couplet really cuts

  7. Wow!! A tiny story packing quite a punch.
    Thanks for dropping by to read mine


  8. It is so very sad what was done to Native American children. An inkblot on society!
    Great poem to illustrate what was lost!

  9. left me with goosebumps. cannot imagine why. and the pain these children suffered. despicable. 😦

  10. Wow, Mish – this poem is a punch to the gut. I’m left breathless 😦

    Well done.


  11. A heartbreaking tale. I love the repetition. This is a beautifully constructed and articulated poem.

  12. the title alone summons all the pathos and outrage of such history – you put so much into those 44 words

    • Not as historical as it seems as the trauma has effects for generations. Survivors living today still suffer and grieving parents whose children did not come home. Thank you for your comment, Laura. 🙂

  13. Hard to read .. imperative we read .. that we support .. that we stand in solidarity. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for posting this.

    • I feel very responsible as a Canadian to share this. For any reconciliation to take place, the hard truth must be shared first. The U.S. will be next in dealing with the shame of it all. They’ve already started investigating. Thank you so much for reading.

  14. Sadly, yes…to be recognized and justice must be served.

  15. The repetition of your words, “little bones,” makes this all the more powerful. Those vulnerable young ones deserved so much better.
    Thank you for sharing.

  16. writingwhatnots

    It doesn’t seem possible that there could be such evil in the world – but there it is. Your words bring it home so powerfully.

  17. What a horror. I know some of this, but not the extent of it. Evil lives. Thank you for sharing this.


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