Friday, March 22, 2013

Keeping Records in an Oral Tradition

Offspring are the key to keeping records
in a community that cannot read and write
it is the spoken word, passed down
through generations, keeping the life
of the community alive.

The story of the great hunt after a long winter
boney hunters barely able to stand
yet they find the buffalo again and again
enough to build tepees, drums and traditional robes,
still feeding the tribe until their bellies are full.

There is also the tale of the wily coyote
playing tricks on the rabbit and roadrunner
the group laughs at their antics
making daily troubles seem small.

Stories of dreams and vision quests
fill the evening hours by the campfire
rituals to the Great Spirit seeking blessings
like bountiful planting seasons, plenty of rain
and safety from all enemies

They sing and dance to the beat of the drums
with the sound of flutes piercing the air
filling the sky with their melodies.

Mothers tell children of temptations they must resist
and scaring them with tales of the boogeyman
keeping them obedient and by their side.

The stories are forgotten except by a few
community dissolves and almost disappears
until the elders start to remember 

and tell the stories from long ago, 
the tales of when they were strong 
and their ancestors filled the earth.

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