Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Pillow And Bone

WOXIE HAURY BRIDE PHOTOS
Woxie Haury (Cheyenne) in native dress and in Western dress on her wedding day.

It took a stitch of Sundays,
but good work has been done.
Tirelessly, our sisters pillowed
braids against the bone.
Twisting, twisting, crossing
until the leather let go.
Homespun prairie lace -
almost white as snow.

Notes: As part of the effort to "assimilate" Native Americans, off-reservation boarding schools became very popular.  Starting in the 1880s, thousands of Indian children were taken from their homes.  At these boarding schools, the children were forced to give up their language and customs and adopt Christianity.  The above picture is a"before and after" shot intended to demonstrate how much the schools were "improving" the Indians.  Here's a couple more:

CULTURAL ASSIMILATION
Tom Torlino (Navajo) arriving at Carlisle school in 1882 / Three years later.

BEFORE AFTER
Three Lakota boys arriving at Carlisle / A short time later.

Pillow and bone is a technique of making lace.

For Susie's lace prompt at Real Toads

17 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Amazing captures, but sad reality at least for me.

ccchampagne said...

This has happened to so many great cultures... It is so sad! But this was a masterly way of portraying it. Wonderful piece!

Kerry O'Connor said...

Such an amazing confluence of ideas in this poem, MZ. You continue to enlighten and amaze me with your poetic talent.

Kathryn said...

I got the bone reference . . . those captures are so sad. Makes my heart ache for them.

Susie Clevenger said...

So sad what religion deemed necessary to change in a culture more civilized in many ways than their supposed benefactors. Love the poem! Thanks for writing!!

Hannah said...

Yes, so sad...thank you for bringing this in with your creative spin on it. Well done MZ.

Fireblossom said...

They all look so much more "there" in the photographs on the left. And still today, there are plenty of people who want other people to be just like them.

Grandmother (Mary) said...

The leather and bead work of the Native Americans is gorgeous, true works of art. That we thought our culture superior was hubris and ethnocentrism at its worst. The loss is incalculable.

cosmos cami said...

Heart-breaking story.
The poem is beautiful.

Lorraine Renaud said...

They took who they don't know and re-shaped and reshaped in someone that looked like them....and it happens in oh so many, so disgusting even today, commercials are shaping women sizing them down to Holocaust survivors...same stories no matter what or when it's the same damn story: assimilate or be ridiculed...it doesn't break my heart, it makes me furious

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Sigh. Heartbreaking "After" photos. Love your poem, especially "pillowed braids against the bone." For some reason this poem also made me think of the European settlers in colonial Africa, who made their menservants wear white gloves - how odd that must have seemed to them. And how offensive it seems to me.

Margaret said...

In Northern Michigan they tore down an old Catholic boarding school (1829 - 2009 or so) where the Odawa Indians were "educated" A lot of stories told are not pleasant. These images are intriguing - I like the looks of them better "before".

"A stitch of Sundays" is an amazing opening and the rest is pure genius (as usual)

Helen said...

Perfect combination of images and words. Beautiful writing!

Susan said...

Damn! It matters where we lay our heads, would we all had free choice in the matter. Homespun, indeed. Brilliant poem.

grapeling said...

brilliant write on a brutal topic, MZ ~

razzamadazzle said...

Love the creative direction you took the prompt. It's horrible to think people were forced to give up their culture.

manicddaily said...

thanks.