Not to be an American Indian – a poem to ponder


It is best not to be an American Indian
I will give it up
I have examined that kind of life an discovered
it is not worth living.
I will not ask to know the name of my ancestors’
tribe, or what I must do.
I will pluck the inner eyes of emotion
I will sleep with white sex goddesses,
and never get involved.
I will never use the word love and care
for no one.
I will ask no one to care for me, so I will
never be homesick because I will have no home.
I will avoid solitude and never think of
When I die, I don’t want to know what’s happening.
Who wants to root among burial grounds and
taste the bitter roots of the human heart,
only to find that autobiography is tragedy
and that you are only one alone among many,
an inconsolable outcast.
Is there any more wine in that bottle?


When I got to work one afternoon in 1974, I found an envelope on my desk. “It’s from Jack,” the receptionist said; “He left it for you.” Jack was my coworker and friend. I still have what I found in the envelope, a poem that still haunts me. He was an Anishinaabe Indian from northern Minnesota, wore his hair in two long braids, and worked with the Indians who lived near our office. “He’s gone,” the receptionist said; “He quit his job, said he was moving south.”

Jack was my friend, and I think about him and his situation often. His poem, and his life, are subjects to ponder.

About gwpj

Originally from Seattle, I now live in Sapporo, Japan, where I write, explore this city, read widely, and ask questions about things that i see as important. I'm also an author, with three novels published ("The Old Man and The Monkey", "Grandfather and The Raven", and "Bear: a story about a boy and his unusual dog"). For more information about my writing, drop by my website, at
This entry was posted in American Indians, poem, Poetry, Prejudice, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Not to be an American Indian – a poem to ponder

  1. gwpj says:

    Reblogged this on Musings by George Polley and commented:

    This is more than a poem, it is a poem with a message about marginalizing people then shoving them aside because of their race, nationality, or just plain prejudice. The author, Jack Brighton, a good man, was my friend. I’ve kept it in my archives, and now I’m sharing it.

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