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Song Lines
by Sharmagne Leland-St. John

they came from the hills
those three women

they came on foot
leading ponies
by their soft muzzles

they came from the north
after the snow melt
wearing moccasins
decorated with
porcupine quills

one had woven
her long tresses
into a thick braid

a black snake coiling
down her slender back

a hawk's feather standing
straight up in the chill air

the one with beaver fur
entwined into plaits
of crow's-wing locks
held the hand
of a girl child
clad in leggings
and a doeskin sheath

2 days behind them
the Ghost Dancers
whispered the way
on a white wind

the woman with the rattle
began to chant
her voice like broken glass

for Stella Runnels, Lakota Woman Warrior, a descendent of Chief Red Cloud and Que Que Tas, Chief of the Nespelems, who, alone, raised her 5 children from the 1930s to the 1960s and occupied Alcatraz for 19 months during the takeover. During her time there, she set up the clinic and a school.


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