Cowboys & Indians

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He said, “There were dozens of us playing in them hills. When it came time to decide who would be a cowboy and who would be an Indian there would be not one of us, who chose to be an Indian. Not one.”

Brown boys,

stigmatized,

by a hard knuckled John Wayne.

Hollywood film reels,

blanks in flashing steel,

where the Whites always triumphed

over Indians.

Even when,

the Indians weren’t so Indian.

Little boys,

choosing sides,

wanting to be in the winning fight.

It’s a losing battle,

for the red man,

depicted in such flashy savagery.

Them filthy injuns,

the West was won

by cowboy cavalry.

The boys left

their play battle ground,

leaving not a man behind.

They lined up like little lambs

to head inside.

The red brick school

where they were housed,

far from home and heart.

The red brick school

where it was learned,

that it was wrong to be Indian from the start.

Yes, it was common knowledge

so it must be true,

if it was painted on the silver screen.

The Indian is a dying breed.

But if an Indian can’t be an Indian

then who can an Indian be?

I attended a Truth and Reconciliation Hearing in Kamloops and heard a man talk about playing cowboys and Indians in the hills behind the residential school. What he said stuck with me.

We are not the losing side. I believe the fact that we are still here, we have language speakers, and a reviving culture is a testament to the fact that we are triumphant and strong.

We are still here.

Helen K

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