He told me that if nature puts a burden on a man by making him

            different, it also gives him a power.

John (Fire) Lame Deer, Sioux Medicine Man



We are special to the Sioux!

They gave us respect for strange powers

Of looking into the sun, the night.

They paid us with horses not derision.


To the Cheyenne we were no curiosity!

We were friends or wives of brave warriors

Who hunted for our cooking pots

Who protected our tipis from Pawnee.


We went to the mountain for our puberty vision.

No horse or lance or thunderbird

Crossed the dreaming eye which would have sent us

Into war or the hunter’s lonely woods.

To some songs floated on mountain air.

To others colors and design appeared on clouds.

To a few words fell from the eagle’s wing,

And they took to the medicine tent,

And in their holiness made power

For the people of the Cheyenne Nation.

There was space for us in the village.


The Crow and Ponca offered deerskin

When the decision to avoid the warpath was made,

And we were accepted into the fur robes

Of a young warrior, and lay by his flesh

And knew his mouth and warm groin:

Or we married (a second wife) to the chief.

And if we fulfilled our duties, he smiled

And gave us his grandchildren to care for.


We were special to the Sioux, Cheyenne, Ponca

And the Crow who valued our worth and did not spit

Names at our lifted skirts nor kicked our nakedness.

We had power with the people!


And if we cared to carry the lance, or dance

Over enemy scalps and take buffalo

Then that, too, was good for the Nation,

And contrary to our stand we walked backwards.

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