Ripped from the arms of their nation

The youth of an older civilization

Sent off to government schools

To learn the white man’s rules

And how well the white man lies


Ancient language torn from their heads

Proud native beliefs, forcefully bled

Burned the animal skins that they wore

As long straight hair fell to the floor

Oh, how quiet a great culture dies


As if the land was not enough of a theft

We sought to strip away anything left

Replacing the beauty of tribal names

With biblical ones like John and James

Conquerors see it as compromise


And learn they did the white man ways

The hate, the pain, all the taken aways

In unmarked grave, another sadly placed

Death delivered and defined by lesser race

And far to the west, every mother cries


13 Responses to “Carlisle”
  1. Yet another thing we take for granted – this land on which we live – forgetting about the people who lived harmoniously upon it until white man decided he wanted it and took it without principle.

  2. beth says:

    yes, no good ever came from this horrendous initiative. I saw the pope traveled to Canada this week for apologies to the indigenous people, and the church’s role in all of this. this happened all over the world, including australia. when I visited in the last ten years, it was the first time a prime minister and their country ever apologized to them

  3. kristianw84 says:

    That last line is so powerful!

    I heard that some educational facilities want to stop teaching Native American history because it “paints white people in a bad light.” Ummm, well, yeah, because white people did some terrible things. I fear for our future if we stop teaching our past.

  4. petespringerauthor says:

    For a nation that likes to state “liberty and justice for all,” we have a funny way of showing it.

  5. Carlisle reminded me of a very quiet Native American boy who sat next to me when I was a Freshman at a Catholic high school in Wisconsin in 1961. He was ranked in the top half of a very competitive school. We moved out of state as soon as the school year ended, so I never found out what happened to him. But I was intrigued that he was a boarder on scholarship from a South Dakota reservation. At the time I assumed this was an honor but I was sad that he was away from family. I wish I could hear his perspective about those times now.

    • Brad Osborne says:

      Thank you for sharing your story, Geoff! It would be fascinating to hear his perspective on his earlier years in school. I am saddened by the idea that one would have to deny their culture in order to “fit in”.

  6. jonicaggiano says:

    A lovely poem about a very ugly part of American history. We just watched a movie about this type of experience called Montford on Netflix. Beautifully put Brad. Jonikens

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