Thursday, April 18, 2013

From Sand Creek - Simon J. Ortiz

In this cycle of poems, Simon J. Ortiz traces a personal journey from the senseless murder of over 160 Native Americans in the Sand Creek Massacre (the incident is among the more shameful aspects of American history. Colonel John Chivington mounted an unprovoked attack on a peaceful group of Native Americans, many of whom were women and children, and slaughtered most of them in a largely one-sided "battle") to his own feelings about being an American.

If you've ever wanted a more detailed look at the complex ways in which Native Americans frame their own American citizenship, look no further. The poems in this book flip back and forth from the atrocities of the past to the difficulties of the present. The poems themselves have a near beatnik feel to them, with line spacing and word placement becoming a vital part of the poems. I found "From Sand Creek" a fascinating read as well as a call to search counter discourses of historical events in order to uncover all sides of a given story. The actions of the United States government in regard to the oppression of Native Americans is shameful, but the ability of Native Americans to still develop some form of patriotism, as evidenced in this book, is highly commendable.

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