Close Close Previous Poem Next Poem Follow Us on Twitter! Poem of the Day Award Follow Us on Facebook! Follow Us on Twitter! Follow Us on Pinterest! Follow Our Youtube Channel! Follow Our RSS Feed! envelope star quill

Indian Poems

Table of Contents

  1. So live your life by Tecumseh
  2. Indian Children by Annette Wynne
  3. Ten Little Indians by Anonymous
  4. Osceola by Lucy Hooper
  5. Sa-cá-ga-we-a by Edna Dean Proctor
  6. The Chair of Uncas by Lydia Sigourney
  7. The Squaw's Lullaby by Harry Edward Mills
  8. The Basket Weaver by Douglas Malloch
  9. The Water-Carrier by Arthur Chapman
  10. The Indian Burying Ground by Philip Freneau
  11. The Indian Boy With His Father's Bow by Hannah Flagg Gould
  12. The Cherokee at Washington by Hannah Flagg Gould
  13. Pocahontas by Hannah Flagg Gould
  14. The Death of the Sagamore: A Scene of the Seventeenth Century by Hannah Flagg Gould
  15. Indian Names by Lydia H. Sigourney
  16. Hiawatha's Childhood by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  17. The Chinook Wind by James W. Whilt
  18. Indian Trails by James W. Whilt

  1. So live your life

    by Tecumseh

    So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
    Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.
    Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
    Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.
    Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.

    Always give a word or a sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend, even a stranger, when in a lonely place.
    Show respect to all people and grovel to none.

    When you arise in the morning give thanks for the food and for the joy of living.
    If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies only in yourself.
    Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools and robs the spirit of its vision.

    When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.
    Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

  2. Indian Children

    by Annette Wynne

    Where we walk to school each day
    Indian children used to play—
    All about our native land,
    Where the shops and houses stand.

    And the trees were very tall,
    And there were no streets at all,
    Not a church, not a steeple—
    Only woods and Indian people.

    Only wigwams on the ground,
    And at night bears prowling round—
    What a different place to-day
    Where we live and work and play!

  3. Ten Little Indians

    by Anonymous

    One little, two little, three little Indians
    Four little, five little, six little Indians
    Seven little, eight little, nine little Indians
    Ten little Indian boys.

    Ten little, nine little, eight little Indians
    Seven little, six little, five little Indians
    Four little, three little, two little Indians
    One little Indian boy.

  4. Osceola

    by Lucy Hooper

    Not on the battle-field,
    As when thy thousand warriors joyed to meet thee,
    Sounding the fierce war-cry,
    Leading them forth to die—
    Not thus, not thus we greet thee.

    But in a hostile camp,
    Lonely amidst thy foes,
    Thine arrows spent,
    Thy brow unbent;
    Yet wearing record of thy people's woes.

    Chief! for thy memories now,
    While the tall palm against this quiet sky
    Her branches waves,
    And the soft river laves
    Yon green and flower-crowned banks it wanders by,

    While in this golden sun
    The burnished rifle gleameth with strange light,
    And sword and spear
    Rest harmless here,
    Yet flash with startling radiance on the sight:

    Wake they thy glance of scorn,
    Thou of the folded arms and aspect stern—
    Thou of the deep low tone,
    For whose rich music gone,
    Kindred and friends alike may vainly yearn!

    Wo for the trusting hour!
    Oh kingly stag! no hand hath brought thee down;
    'Twas with a patriot's heart,
    Where fear usurped no part,
    Thou camest, a noble offering, and alone!

    For vain yon army's might,
    While for thy band the wide plain owned a tree,
    Or the wild vine's tangled shoots
    On the gnarled oak's mossy roots
    Their trysting-place might be!

    Wo for thy hapless fate!
    Wo for thine evil times and lot, brave chief;
    Thy sadly closing story,
    Thy short and mournful glory,
    Thy high and hopeless struggle, brave and brief!

    Wo for the bitter stain
    That from our country's banner may not part:
    Wo for the captive, wo!
    For burning pains, and slow,
    Are his who dieth of the fevered heart.

    Oh! in that spirit-land,
    Where never yet the oppressor's foot hath past,
    Chief! by those sparkling streams
    Whose beauty mocks our dreams,
    May that high heart have won its rest at last.

  5. Sa-cá-ga-we-a

    Song of the Eagle that Mates with the Storm!
    Song of the Eagle that Mates with the Storm!
    by N. C. Wyeth
    by Edna Dean Proctor

    Sho-shó-ne Sa-cá-ga-we-a—captive and wife was she
    On the grassy plains of Dakota in the land of the Minnetaree;
    But she heard the west wind calling, and longed to follow the sun
    Back to the shining mountains and the glens where her life begun.

    So, when the valiant Captains, fain for the Asian sea,
    Stayed their marvellous journey in the land of the Minnetaree
    (The Red Men wondering, wary—Omaha, Mandan, Sioux—
    Friendly now, now hostile, as they toiled the wilderness through),
    Glad she turned from the grassy plains and led their way to the West,
    Her course as true as the swan's that flew north to its reedy nest;
    Her eye as keen as the eagle's when the young lambs feed below;
    Her ear alert as the stag's at morn guarding the fawn and doe.
    Straight was she as a hillside fir, lithe as the willow-tree,
    And her foot as fleet as the antelope's when the hunter rides the lea;
    In broidered tunic and moccasins, with braided raven hair,
    And closely belted buffalo robe with her baby nestling there—
    Girl of but sixteen summers, the homing bird of the quest,
    Free of the tongues of the mountains, deep on her heart imprest,—
    Sho-shó-ne Sa-ca-ga-we-a led the way to the West!—
    To Missouri's broad savannas dark with bison and deer,
    While the grizzly roamed the savage shore and cougar and wolf prowled near;
    To the cataract's leap, and the meadows with lily and rose abloom;
    The sunless trails of the forest, and the can yon's hush and gloom;
    By the veins of gold and silver, and the mountains vast and grim—
    Their snowy summits lost in clouds on the wide horizon's brim;
    Through sombre pass, by soaring peak, till the Asian wind blew free,
    And lo! the roar of the Oregon and the splendor of the Sea!

    Some day, in the lordly upland where the snow-fed streams divide—
    Afoam for the far Atlantic, afoam for Pacific's tide—
    There, by the valiant Captains whose glory will never dim
    While the sun goes down to the Asian sea and the stars in ether swim,
    She will stand in bronze as richly brown as the hue of her girlish cheek,
    With broidered robe and braided hair and lips just curved to speak;
    And the mountain winds will murmur as they linger along the crest,
    "Sho-shó-ne Sa-cá-ga-we-a, who led the way to the West!"

  6. The Chair of Uncas

    by Lydia Sigourney. In the neighbourhood of Mohegan, Connecticut, is a rude recess, and a rocky seat, still bearing the name of the Chair of Uncus, where that king sat, when his fort was besieged by the Narragansetts, anxiously watching the river for the supplies of food, which the whites had promised to send to his famishing people. They at length arrived, in a large canoe, under the covert of midnight, and saved his tribe from perishing by famine.

    The monarch sat on his rocky throne,
    Beneath him the waters lay,
    His guards were the shapeless columns of stone,
    Their lofty helmets with moss o'ergrown,
    And their spears of the bracken grey.

    His lamps were the fickle stars that beam'd,
    Through the vale of their midnight shroud,
    And the redd'ning flashes that fitfully gleam'd,
    When the distant fires of the war-dance streamed,
    Where his foes in frantic revel scream'd, 'Neath their canopy of cloud.

    Say! why was his glance so restless and keen,
    As it fell on the waveless tide?
    And why, 'mid the gloom of that silent scene,
    Did the sigh heave his warlike bosom's screen,
    And bow that front of pride?

    Behind him his leaguer'd forces lay,
    Withering in famine's blight,
    And he knew with the blush of the morning ray,
    That Philip would summon his fierce array,
    On the core of the warrior's heart to prey,
    And quench a nation's light.

    It comes! It comes! that misty speck,
    Which over the waters moves!
    It boasts not sail, nor mast, nor deck,
    Yet dearer to him was that noteless wreck,
    Than the maid to him who loves.

    It bears to the warrior's nerveless arm,
    The might of a victor's aim,
    Its freight is a spell whose mystic charm,
    Shall protect the tottering sire from harm,
    And the helpless babe, whose life-blood warm,
    Was to hiss in the wigwams flame.

    The eye of the king with that lightning blaz'd,
    Which the soul in its rapture sends;
    His prayer to the Spirit of God he rais'd,
    And the shades of his buried fathers prais'd,
    As toward his fort he wends.

    That king hath gone to his lowly grave!
    He slumbers in dark decay;
    And like the crest of the tossing wave,
    Like the rush of the blast from the mountain cave
    Like the groan of the murder'd, with none to save,
    His people have pass'd away.

    The king is gone! but his chair of stone,
    Still rests on its rugged base,
    Around it the thorn-tree, and thicket have grown,
    And none save the blasts thro' their branches that moan,
    Sigh over his fallen race.

  7. The Squaw's Lullaby

    by Harry Edward Mills

    Sleep, my little papoose;
    Thy father hunteth the moose;
    For thee and me he wanders long,
    His heart is brave, his hand is strong,
    His bow is mighty as the oak,
    His arrow is the lightning's stroke,
    In vain the wild fowl shun his noose;
    Sleep, my little papoose.

    Sleep, my little papoose;
    The hooting owl is loose;
    The fawn is sleeping by the doe,
    The calf beside the buffalo,
    The turkey hen above her brood
    Is guarding lest the wolf intrude,
    The gosling nestles 'neath the goose;
    Sleep, my little papoose.

  8. The Basket Weaver

    by Douglas Malloch

    No flashing loom is hers; no shuttle flies
    To do the bidding of her hands and eyes.
    No needle glides to designated place,
    As weave her sisters overseas the lace.
    Hers is a simpler workshop in the leaves;
    This is a simpler pattern that she weaves,
    Her woof the splinter of the forest tree,
    The ash so white, the elm and hickory,
    Her dyes the blood of marish weeds and bark
    With tints as ruddy as her features dark—
    These are her simple implements of toil,
    The ready products of the woodland soil.

    Yet who shall say her skill is aught the less
    Than that of her who weaves the princess' dress?
    For generations women of her race
    Have woven baskets in this quiet place,
    And she who weaves beneath the ancient trees
    Reveals the skill of toilsome centuries.

    Into the basket weaves she more than wood—
    For weaves she in the romance of her blood,
    Yea, weaves she in the moonlight and the sun,
    The westward's burning rays when day is done,
    The verdant tints of winter's evergreen,
    The lily's whiteness and the willow's sheen,
    The regal purple of her honored chief,
    The simple beauty of her God-belief.

    So, through its time, the basket that she makes
    Shall sing to me of brooks and sylvan lakes,
    Shall sing the glory of the vanished Red,
    Shall sing a requiem for peoples dead,
    Shall sing of tree, of flower and of sod—
    Shall sing of Nature and the place of God.

  9. The Water-Carrier

    Arthur Chapman

    Steep is the trail to the mesa above her—
    Maid of the Zuñi-foik, tall and bare-armed;
    Browned by the kiss of the warm winds that love her—
    Maid whom the desert's breath never has harmed.

    Strange is the view that is stretched far below her—
    White sands that melt in a horizon blue;
    Sea without waves, without sail, without rower—
    Only the cloud-shadows ploughing it through.

    So she has paused, in her bright-colored blanket,
    And steadies the jar, while her breath rises fast,
    At a niche in the trail, where the beetling cliffs flank it,
    As her kindred have paused in the long ages past.

  10. The Indian Burying Ground

    by Philip Freneau

    In spite of all the learned have said.
    I still my old opinion keep;
    The posture, that we give our dead,
    Points out the soul's eternal sleep.

    Not so the ancients of these lands --
    The Indian, when from life released,
    Again is seated with his friends,
    And shares again the joyous feast.

    His imaged birds, and painted bowl,
    And venison, for a journey dressed,
    Bespeak the nature of the soul,
    Activity, that knows no rest.

    His bow, for action ready bent,
    And arrows, with a head of stone,
    Can only mean that life is spent,
    And not the old ideas gone.

    Thou, stranger, that shalt come this way,
    No fraud upon the dead commit --
    Observe the swelling turf and say
    They do not lie, but here they sit.

    Here still a lofty rock remains,
    On which the curious eye may trace
    (Now wasted half, by wearing rains)
    The fancies of a ruder race.

    Here still an aged elm aspires,
    Beneath whose far-projecting shade
    (And which the shepherd still admires)
    The children of the forest played!

    There oft a restless Indian queen
    (Pale shebah, with her braided hair)
    And many a barbarous form is seen
    To chide the man who lingers there.

    By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews;
    In habit for the chase arrayed,
    The hunter still the deer pursues,
    The hunter and the deer, a shade!

    And long shall timorous fancy see
    The painted chief, and pointed spear,
    And Reason's self shall bow the knee
    To shadows and delusions here.

  11. The Indian Boy With His Father's Bow

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    "I look on the bow that my father bent,
    And I know the ways where the warrior went.
    I remember the flash of the chieftain's eye;
    When he heard the whoop of the foeman nigh!
    I can see the fall of that stately head
    On the dauntless breast, when its blood was shed;
    And I bear in my heart the charge that hung,
    To avenge his death, on the faltering tongue!

    "My hand is as firm to bend the bow;
    My foot through the forest as fleet to go;
    I can aim my dart with as sure an eye;
    And I am as ready as he to die!
    My spirit is burning with thirst to meet
    Our ancient foe—for revenge is sweet.
    Lo! onward I go, and my father's shade
    Shall be at my side, till the debt is paid!"

    He leaps, and is gone, like the hounding deer;
    But not like her, from the hound and spear.
    He flies to his death—he has met the dart;
    And 't is drinking the blood of that fearless heart!
    But it came too late, for his dying ear
    The curse of his falling foe can hear—
    The arrow was sped, which brings him low,
    By the hand of the son, from the father's bow!

  12. The Cherokee at Washington

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    I come from an ancient race—
    From the wilds where my father trod;
    And, though I present the red man's face,
    I believe in the Christian's God.

    I come where your Chief is laid,
    At rest in his own dear land;
    And I now would ask, if his mighty shade
    Presides o'er your council band.

    If so, he will know the type
    Of peace and of purity;
    The chain of gold, and the silver pipe,
    Bestowed on the Cherokee.

    And here must he turn aside
    To weep, and to blush for shame,
    Thus to hear our nation's rights denied,
    And his debase her name.

    Oh! no—by the faith of man,
    Our claims ye must yet allow!
    By the Book ye read, ye never can
    Thus your pledges disavow!

    Ye say that He went about,
    Whom ye follow, doing good.
    Does he bid you hunt the red man out,
    Like a wolf from his native wood?

    Ye teach us, too, that He
    Is to judge the quick and the dead:
    Before His throne, will the difference be
    That the face was white or red?

    And ye tell us what He said,
    When He pointed to the coin
    Impressed with the sovereign's name and head,
    And what his words enjoin.

    Our image on our land,
    As Caesar's on the gold,
    Has been impressed by our Maker's hand,
    And it never must be sold!

    For, dear as the spot of earth
    Where first your breath ye drew,
    Your father's sepulchres, your hearth
    And altar are to you;

    The ties are far more strong,
    Which we feel to our native soil,
    Than yours—ye have not been so long,
    As the nation ye would spoil!

    By power ye may o'ercome;
    But should ye thus succeed,
    And drive the poor Indian from his home—
    Great Spirit, forgive the deed!

  13. Pocahontas

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    Behold the proud chieftain, whose indian brow
    Is knit with a fearful intent.
    His spirit untaught in compassion to bow,
    Or a higher on earth than himself to allow,
    On the blood of the white man is bent.

    That chief is Powhattan! His barbarous throng
    With savage decorum have met,
    And in the dark council been solemn and long;
    They're danced the rude war-dance; they've sung the wild song,
    And SMITH, thy last moment is set!

    The monarch has given the awful command,
    The prisoner before him is led
    To the stone, his death-pillow, amid the strong band
    The weapon is up in a fearful, red hand,
    And ready to fall on his head!

    When lo! there darts forth from that terrible crowd
    A female's young, beauteous form,
    Like the flash that breaks out, throwing off its black shroud,
    And leaps to the earth from the fold of a cloud,
    Ere the thunder-peal sounds, in the storm.

    But not, like the lightning, to kill or to scath,
    Comes the bright POCAHONTAS! She flies,
    Like pity's kind angel, with tears on her path,
    To fall as a shield from her father's dread wrath,
    On the victim who under it lies!

    Her arms o'er the form of the prisoner are thrown;
    Round his neck falls her long, jetty hair;
    On his head lowly laid she has pillowed her own,
    While her voice rends the air with its piteous tone,
    As she shrieks—'Father, father, forbear!

    'Spare! spare but his life! 't is thy daughter who cries!
    Her head must receive thy first blow!
    If now by the hand of Powhattan he dies,
    The same shade for ever shall darken our eyes;
    My blood o'er the white man shall flow!'

    The sachem's proud spirit, which lately so wild
    Came forth in the flashes of fire
    That lit his stern eye, of its purpose beguiled,
    Is melted and tamed by the tears of his child,
    Who, weeping, looks up to her sire.

    'Rise, child of Powhattan!' he cries, 'it is meet
    That mercy should conquer in thee;
    My own bird of beauty; thy wing was too fleet!
    Thy glance is an arrow—thy voice is too sweet!
    Rise up, for the white man is free!'

    Now harmless the death-weapon drops to the ground
    From the grasp of the chieftain's strong hand.
    He lifts up his child, and the victim's unbound,
    While sounds of strange gladness are passing around
    Where the plumed, painted savages stand.

    The soul of a princess indeed was enshrined
    In her, who the forest-ground trod;
    And since, by the faith of the Christian refined,
    She has given her brow at the font to be signed
    'REBECCA, a daughter of God.'

  14. The Death of the Sagamore: A Scene of the Seventeenth Century

    by Hannah Flagg Gould

    The servant of GOD is on his way
    From Boston's beautiful shore;
    His boat skims light o'er the silvery bay,
    While the sleeping waters awake and play,
    At the touch of the playful oar.

    The purpose that fills his soul is great
    As the soul of a man can know;
    Vast as eternity, strong as the gate
    The spirit must pass, to a changeless state,
    And enter, to bliss or woe!

    His boat is fast; and over the sod
    Of a neighboring wood he hies,
    Through moor and thicket his path is trod,
    As he hastens to speak of the living GOD
    In the ear of a man, who dies!

    Where Rumney's* forest is high and dark,
    The eagle lowers her wing,
    O'er him, who once had made her his mark;
    For the SAGAMORE, in his hut of bark,
    Is a perishing, powerless king.

    At the door of his wigwam hang the bow,
    The antler, and beaver-skin;
    While he, who bore them, is faint and low,
    Where death has given the fatal blow,
    And the monarch expires within.

    The eye that glanced, and the eagle fled
    Away, through her fields of air;
    The hand that drew, and the deer was dead;
    The hunter's foot, and the chieftain's head,
    And the conqueror's arm, are there!

    But each its powerful work has done;
    Its triumph at length is past;
    The final conflict is now begun,
    And weeping the mother hangs over her son,
    While the SAGAMORE breathes his last!

    The queen of the Massachusetts grieves,
    That the life of her child must end!
    And that is a noble breast that heaves
    With the mortal pang on the bed of leaves,
    Of the white man's Indian Friend!

    The stately form, which is prostrate there,
    On the feet that are cold as snow,
    Has often sped in the midnight air
    A word to the christian's ear to bear,
    Of the plot of his heathen foe!

    And oft, when roaming the wild alone,
    That generous heart would melt
    At the touch of a ray of light, that shone
    From the white man's GOD, till before his throne
    Almost has the Indian knelt.

    Yet the fatal fear, the fear of man,
    That bringeth to man a snare,
    Has braced his knee, as it just began
    To bend; and the dread of a heathen clan
    Has stifled a christian prayer.

    But now, like a flood, to his trembling heart
    Has the fear of a GOD rushed in;
    And keener far than the icy dart,
    That rends the flesh and spirit apart,
    Is the thought of his heathen sin.

    To the lonely spot where the chief reclines
    While the herald of love draws nigh,
    The Indian shrinks, as he marks the signs
    Of a soul at peace, and the light that shines
    Alone from a christian's eye.

    'Alas!' he cries, in the strange, deep tone
    Of one in the grasp of death,
    'No GOD have I! I have lost my own!
    I go to the presence of thine alone,
    To scorch in his fiery breath!

    'The Spirit, who makes the skies so bright
    With the prints of his shining feet,
    Who rolls the waters, kindles the light,
    Imprisons the winds, or gives them their flight—
    I tremble his eye to meet!

    'When, oh! if I openly had confessed,
    And followed and loved him here,
    I now might fly to his arms for rest,
    As the weary bird to her downy nest,
    When the evening shades draw near.

    'But, grant me the one great boon I crave
    In a great, and an awful hour!
    When I shall have sunk in my forest grave,
    O take my Boy to thy home, and save
    That beautiful forest flower!

    'The God of thy people, the HOLY ONE—
    And the path that shall reach the skies—
    Say! say that to these thou wilt lead my son,
    That he may not second the race I've run,
    Nor die, as his father dies!'

    'As his father dies!' with the breath that bore
    That sorrowful sound has fled
    The soul of a king —for the strife is o'er
    With spirit and flesh; and the SAGAMORE
    Is numbered among the dead!

    But has he not, by his high bequest,
    Like the penitent on the tree,
    The Saviour of dying man confessed;
    And found the promise to him addressed—
    'To-day thou shalt be with me'?

  15. Indian Names

    by Lydia H. Sigourney

    Ye say they all have passed away—that noble race and brave,
    That their light canoes have vanished from off the crested wave;
    That,'mid the forests where they roamed, there rings no hunter's shout,
    But their name is on your waters—ye may not wash it out.

    'Tis where Ontario's billow like ocean's surge is curled,
    Where strong Niagara's thunders wake the echo of the world;
    Where red Missouri bringeth rich tribute from the west,
    And Rappahannock sweetly sleeps on green Virginia's breast.

    Ye say their cone-like cabins, that clustered o'er the vale,
    Have fled away like withered leaves, before the autumn's gale;
    But their memory liveth on your hills, their baptism on your shore,
    Your everlasting rivers speak their dialect of yore.

    Old Massachusetts wears it upon her lordly crown,
    And broad Ohio bears it amid his young renown;
    Connecticut hath wreathed it where her quiet foliage waves,
    And bold Kentucky breathes it hoarse through all her ancient caves.

    Wachusett hides its lingering voice within his rocky heart,
    And Alleghany graves its tone throughout his lofty chart;
    Monadnock on his forehead hoar doth seal the sacred trust;
    Your mountains build their monument, though ye destroy their dust.

    Ye call those red-browed brethren the insects of an hour,
    Crushed like the noteless worm amid the regions of their power;
    Ye drive them from their fathers' lands, ye break of faith the seal,
    But can ye from the court of heaven exclude their last appeal?

    Ye see their unresisting tribes, with toilsome steps and slow,
    On through the trackless desert pass, a caravan of woe.
    Think ye the Eternal Ear is deaf? His sleepless vision dim?
    Think ye the soul's blood may not cry from that far land to Him?

  16. Hiawatha's Childhood

    by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Downward through the evening twilight,
    In the days that are forgotten,
    In the unremembered ages,
    From the full moon fell Nokomis,
    Fell the beautiful Nokomis,
    She a wife, but not a mother.

    She was sporting with her women,
    Swinging in a swing of grape-vines,
    When her rival, the rejected,
    Full of jealousy and hatred,
    Cut the leafy swing asunder,
    Cut in twain the twisted grape-vines,
    And Nokomis fell affrighted
    Downward through the evening twilight,
    On the Muskoday, the meadow,
    On the prairie full of blossoms.
    "See! a star falls!" said the people;
    "From the sky a star is falling!"
    There among the ferns and mosses,
    There among the prairie lilies,
    On the Muskoday, the meadow,
    In the moonlight and the starlight,
    Fair Nokomis bore a daughter.
    And she called her name Wenonah,
    As the first-born of her daughters.
    And the daughter of Nokomis
    Grew up like the prairie lilies,
    Grew a tall and slender maiden,
    With the beauty of the moonlight,
    With the beauty of the starlight.
    And Nokomis warned her often,
    Saying oft, and oft repeating,
    "Oh, beware of Mudjekeewis,
    Of the West-Wind, Mudjekeewis;
    Listen not to what he tells you;
    Lie not down upon the meadow,
    Stoop not down among the lilies,
    Lest the West-Wind come and harm you!"
    But she heeded not the warning,
    Heeded not those words of wisdom,
    And the West-Wind came at evening,
    Walking lightly o'er the prairie,
    Whispering to the leaves and blossoms,
    Bending low the flowers and grasses,
    Found the beautiful Wenonah,
    Lying there among the lilies,
    Wooed her with his words of sweetness,
    Wooed her with his soft caresses,
    Till she bore a son in sorrow,
    Bore a son of love and sorrow.
    Thus was born my Hiawatha,
    Thus was born the child of wonder;
    But the daughter of Nokomis,
    Hiawatha's gentle mother,
    In her anguish died deserted
    By the West-Wind, false and faithless,
    By the heartless Mudjekeewis.
    For her daughter long and loudly
    Wailed and wept the sad Nokomis;
    "Oh that I were dead!" she murmured,
    "Oh that I were dead, as thou art!
    No more work, and no more weeping,
    Wahonowin! Wahonowin!"
    By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
    By the shining Big-Sea-Water,
    Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
    Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
    Dark behind it rose the forest,
    Rose the black and gloomy pine-trees,
    Rose the firs with cones upon them;
    Bright before it beat the water,
    Beat the clear and sunny water,
    Beat the shining Big-Sea-Water.
    There the wrinkled old Nokomis
    Nursed the little Hiawatha,
    Rocked him in his linden cradle,
    Bedded soft in moss and rushes,
    Safely bound with reindeer sinews;
    Stilled his fretful wail by saying,
    "Hush! the Naked Bear will hear thee!"
    Lulled him into slumber, singing,
    "Ewa-yea! my little owlet!
    Who is this, that lights the wigwam?
    With his great eyes lights the wigwam?
    Ewa-yea! my little owlet!"
    Many things Nokomis taught him
    Of the stars that shine in heaven;
    Showed him Ishkoodah, the comet,
    Ishkoodah, with fiery tresses;
    Showed the Death-Dance of the spirits,
    Warriors with their plumes and war-clubs,
    Flaring far away to northward
    In the frosty nights of Winter;
    Showed the broad white road in heaven,
    Pathway of the ghosts, the shadows,
    Running straight across the heavens,
    Crowded with the ghosts, the shadows.
    At the door on summer evenings
    Sat the little Hiawatha;
    Heard the whispering of the pine-trees,
    Heard the lapping of the waters,
    Sounds of music, words of wonder;
    'Minne-wawa!" said the pine-trees,
    Mudway-aushka!" said the water.
    Saw the fire-fly, Wah-wah-taysee,
    Flitting through the dusk of evening,
    With the twinkle of its candle
    Lighting up the brakes and bushes,
    And he sang the song of children,
    Sang the song Nokomis taught him:
    "Wah-wah-taysee, little fire-fly,
    Little, flitting, white-fire insect,
    Little, dancing, white-fire creature,
    Light me with your little candle,
    Ere upon my bed I lay me,
    Ere in sleep I close my eyelids!"
    Saw the moon rise from the water
    Rippling, rounding from the water,
    Saw the flecks and shadows on it,
    Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
    And the good Nokomis answered:
    "Once a warrior, very angry,
    Seized his grandmother, and threw her
    Up into the sky at midnight;
    Right against the moon he threw her;
    'T is her body that you see there."
    Saw the rainbow in the heaven,
    In the eastern sky, the rainbow,
    Whispered, "What is that, Nokomis?"
    And the good Nokomis answered:
    "'T is the heaven of flowers you see there;
    All the wild-flowers of the forest,
    All the lilies of the prairie,
    When on earth they fade and perish,
    Blossom in that heaven above us."
    When he heard the owls at midnight,
    Hooting, laughing in the forest,
    "What is that?" he cried in terror,
    "What is that," he said, "Nokomis?"
    And the good Nokomis answered:
    "That is but the owl and owlet,
    Talking in their native language,
    Talking, scolding at each other."
    Then the little Hiawatha
    Learned of every bird its language,
    Learned their names and all their secrets,
    How they built their nests in Summer,
    Where they hid themselves in Winter,
    Talked with them whene'er he met them,
    Called them "Hiawatha's Chickens."
    Of all beasts he learned the language,
    Learned their names and all their secrets,
    How the beavers built their lodges,
    Where the squirrels hid their acorns,
    How the reindeer ran so swiftly,
    Why the rabbit was so timid,
    Talked with them whene'er he met them,
    Called them "Hiawatha's Brothers."
    Then Iagoo, the great boaster,
    He the marvellous story-teller,
    He the traveller and the talker,
    He the friend of old Nokomis,
    Made a bow for Hiawatha;
    From a branch of ash he made it,
    From an oak-bough made the arrows,
    Tipped with flint, and winged with feathers,
    And the cord he made of deer-skin.
    Then he said to Hiawatha:
    "Go, my son, into the forest,
    Where the red deer herd together,
    Kill for us a famous roebuck,
    Kill for us a deer with antlers!"
    Forth into the forest straightway
    All alone walked Hiawatha
    Proudly, with his bow and arrows;
    And the birds sang round him, o'er him,
    "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
    Sang the robin, the Opechee,
    Sang the bluebird, the Owaissa,
    "Do not shoot us, Hiawatha!"
    Up the oak-tree, close beside him,
    Sprang the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
    In and out among the branches,
    Coughed and chattered from the oak-tree,
    Laughed, and said between his laughing,
    "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
    And the rabbit from his pathway
    Leaped aside, and at a distance
    Sat erect upon his haunches,
    Half in fear and half in frolic,
    Saying to the little hunter,
    "Do not shoot me, Hiawatha!"
    But he heeded not, nor heard them,
    For his thoughts were with the red deer;
    On their tracks his eyes were fastened,
    Leading downward to the river,
    To the ford across the river,
    And as one in slumber walked he.
    Hidden in the alder-bushes,
    There he waited till the deer came,
    Till he saw two antlers lifted,
    Saw two eyes look from the thicket,
    Saw two nostrils point to windward,
    And a deer came down the pathway,
    Flecked with leafy light and shadow.
    And his heart within him fluttered,
    Trembled like the leaves above him,
    Like the birch-leaf palpitated,
    As the deer came down the pathway.
    Then, upon one knee uprising,
    Hiawatha aimed an arrow;
    Scarce a twig moved with his motion,
    Scarce a leaf was stirred or rustled,
    But the wary roebuck started,
    Stamped with all his hoofs together,
    Listened with one foot uplifted,
    Leaped as if to meet the arrow;
    Ah! the singing, fatal arrow,
    Like a wasp it buzzed and stung him!
    Dead he lay there in the forest,
    By the ford across the river;
    Beat his timid heart no longer,
    But the heart of Hiawatha
    Throbbed and shouted and exulted,
    As he bore the red deer homeward,
    And Iagoo and Nokomis
    Hailed his coming with applauses.
    From the red deer's hide Nokomis
    Made a cloak for Hiawatha,
    From the red deer's flesh Nokomis
    Made a banquet to his honor.
    All the village came and feasted,
    All the guests praised Hiawatha,
    Called him Strong-Heart, Soan-ge-taha!
    Called him Loon-Heart, Mahn-go-taysee!

  17. The Chinook Wind

    by James W. Whilt

    There's a soft warm breeze upon the air,
    'Tis moaning soft and low,
    'Tis cold and chill upon the hill,
    Yet it's melting all the snow.

    The Indians all tell us,
    That many moons gone by
    Right here within the mountains,
    The North wind it did cry.

    The Chinook wind made answer,
    And said, "I'm not afraid,"
    And then there raged a battle,
    For a beautiful Indian Maid.

    The Chinook wind was the victor,
    The North wind went away,
    But the Maiden fair had died of despair,
    And deep in her grave she lay.

    So every year his voice we hear,
    Calling so soft and sweet,
    Searching the grave of the one he would save,
    Melting the snow at our feet.

    'Tis the lover's wind, so the Indians say,
    And his heart is ever sad,
    But they welcome his coming, every one,
    For the North wind is gone and they're glad.

  18. Indian Trails

    by James W. Whilt

    Creeping along the mountain,
    Or winding along the stream,
    Each year growing dimmer and dimmer,
    Then fading away like a dream—

    Almost impossible to follow,
    Still in the days long ago,
    These trails were the only highways
    And whither did they go?

    Some lead deep in the forest
    Where they hunted the deer and bear,
    Where they dried the meat for food
    And skins made them clothes to wear.

    While some lead to lakes and rivers
    Where the loon and wild geese call,
    To rice-fields in late October
    When the snow commenced to fall,—

    While some climbed high on the mountain
    Where the huckleberries grew,
    And ripened upon the sunny slopes,
    Sweetened by mountain dew,—

    Others found way to the border tribes
    Where the war-whoops loud and shrill,
    Echoed along the cliffs and crags,—
    Me-thinks I can hear them still.

    Now only a scar on some tree remains
    Of the trails of the long ago,
    The summer comes, the fall appears,
    With winter's frost and snow.

    And as each season passes,
    Leaves dimmer every trace,
    I can see the trails a-passing,
    The same as the Indian race.

Follow Us On: