Playing the Indian Card

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Fish Creek

Isidore Dumas began to sing "Malbrouck,"... and everyone came in on the roaring chorus: "Mironton, mironton, mirontaine!" Someone else started "Falcon's Song," and from somewhere, incredibly, came an instrumental accompaniment; one of the rebel warriors had brought along his flute. The sun came out briefly and some of the Metis delightedly called the attention of their fellows to the first yellow and purple blooms of the spring wildflowers.

--Joseph Howard, Strange Empire

We stand on the Saskatchewan,
The north wind at our back;
We stand against fat Middleton and compromise.
Against half-measures, and slow, steady advance;
Against compromise religion, a compromise union,
And petitions to compromised men.

We stand against Macdonald, and his men of string
Who pound stakes and draw grids and squares
Onto a living land
Wild as ashes, wild as wind,
Wild as rivers,
And the snow falling.

We stand with Louis David, all the angels and the saints,
With our muskets, like the trumpets of the tribes,
In our sights a mute, Philistine people;
Goliaths, too tall to touch the ground
Their thinking far away, past oceans.
They will leave no footprints.

We will no doubt die.
This morning is Divine Aurore;
Tomorrow it will be the day of mourning;
But after that, the blessed day of calm.
And we will rise, like lilies in the spring.
And they will know this is a land of fire and vision,
And Yahweh lives here,
And we shall have our prophets.
For this we now stand and deliver;
Kill us now, not
In our solitude
One by one.

And should Sir John have shot and hanged us all,
And laid us in our consecrated ground,
We yet live on, uncompromised;
Become a dream
That Sir John will dream.
He cannot stop the dream;
Though he drink whiskey, for he fears to dream;
He knows no other vision.
A dream of distant thunder in a prairie sky.
Black lightning under a gun-blue sky
And the North Wind blowing.

One day Old Tomorrow will die,
And his blood-red Empire will die,
And this prairie will remain,
Ever virgin--
And silence, and the lilies, and the north wind.

-- Stephen K. Roney

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