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      Indigenous Struggle against Colonialism

      E. Pauline Johnson

      E. Pauline Johnson (Mohawk/British) also known as "Tekahionwake". Johnson is remembered for publicly embracing her Mohawk heritage in her poetry and her public performances. Her poem “A Cry from an Indian Wife,” uses the language of her time, while portraying an Indigenous woman's perspective regarding the Resistance of the First Nations and Metis people in 1885.

      A Cry from an Indian Wife

      My forest brave, my Red-skin love, farewell;
      We may not meet tomorrow; who can tell
      What mighty ills befall our little band,
      Or what you'll suffer from the white man's hand?
      Here is your knife! I thought 'twas sheathed for aye.
      No roaming bison calls for it today;
      No hide of prairie cattle will it maim;
      The plains are bare, it seeks a nobler game:
      'Twill drink the life-blood of a soldier host.
      Go; rise and strike, no matter what the cost.
      Yet stay. Revolt not at the Union Jack,
      Nor raise Thy hand against this stipling pack
      Of white-faced warriors, marching West to quell
      Our fallen tribe that rises to rebel.
      They all are young and beautiful and good;
      Curse to the war that drinks their harmless blood.
      Curse to the fate that brought them from the East
      To be our chiefs—to make our nation least
      That breathes the air of this vast continent.
      Still their new rule and council is well meant.
      They but forget we Indians owned the land
      From ocean unto ocean; that they stand
      Upon a soil that centuries agone
      Was our sole kingdom and our right alone.
      They never think how they would feel today,
      If some great nation came from far away,
      Wresting their country from their hapless braves,
      Giving what they gave us—but wars and graves.
      Then go and strike for liberty and life,
      And bring back honour to your Indian wife.
      Your wife? Ah, what of that, who cares for me?
      Who pities my poor love and agony?
      What white-robed priest prays for your safety here,
      As prayer is said for every volunteer
      That swells the ranks that Canada sends out?
      Who prays for vict'ry for the Indian scout?
      Who prays for our poor nation lying low?
      None—therefore take your tomahawk and go.
      My heart may break and burn into its core,
      But I am strong to bid you go to war.
      Yet stay, my heart is not the only one
      That grieves the loss of husband and of son;
      Think of the mothers o'er the inland seas;
      Think of the pale-faced maiden on her knees;
      One pleads her God to guard some sweet-faced child
      That marches on toward the North-West wild.
      The other prays to shield her love from harm,
      To strengthen his young, proud uplifted arm.
      Ah, how her white face quivers thus to think,
      Your tomahawk his life's best blood will drink.
      She never thinks of my wild aching breast,
      Nor prays for your dark face and eagle crest
      Endangered by a thousand rifle balls,
      My heart the target if my warrior falls.
      O! coward self I hesitate no more;
      Go forth, and win the glories of the war.
      Go forth, nor bend to greed of white men's hands,
      By right, by birth we Indians own these lands,
      Though starved, crushed, plundered, lies our nation low...
      Perhaps the white man's God has willed it so.

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