Song of the Sioux

A tribute

There is a song that must be sung
a new anthem that must be written
for all First Nations peoples displaced
to the status of second-class citizens
by those who saw fit to kill and conquer
what was never theirs to take

As an outsider I read about the Standing
Rock Sioux, Lakota and Dakota, allies or friends
treated with hostility, subject to indignity
by money-grabbing corporations that continue
to dishonour treaties made
history repeating itself, riper and ranker

No justification can do the Sioux justice
not even their name, a corruption by French traders
who saw fit to mutilate and corrupt
or in more modern terms pollute and poison
through a pipeline promised to open
the economy to riches unparalleled, a boom

An uncanny resemblance to the age-old tale
the original sin when the white man coveted
and ate of the fruit, committed genocide
only the weapons of mass destruction have morphed
into blueprints, handshakes and oversights
that will cost the Sioux their lives

Call me naïve or foolish but in this anthem
the Sioux are called by their native tongues
Ihanktonwana, Hunkpatina, Hunkpapa, Sihasapa
and though assailed by spitting storms and lashing winds
they stand proud and tall like a rock
whose spirit is immovable, strong, unafraid

That is their song

Esther Vincent teaches Literature at the School of the Arts, Singapore. She believes that poetry should empower, not exclude, engage, not evade. She is co-editor of Little Things, an anthology of poetry and the accompanying Teacher's Guide. Her poems have been published in The Journal of Remembered Arts, Eastlit, and other publications, Her poem 'Excuse me, what is your race?' about race and identity was translated into Russian in To Go To S'pore by Kirill Cherbitski. Read other articles by Esther.