Mvskoke Country

Lives of the Fish

with one comment

first of all
the fish killing is a bit out of the picture
for the indians of today due to the fact that
the occasion has been outlawed by the white men

during the days of fish killing
the streams were full of
various kinds and sizes of fishes
and the indian killed only
that which he needed

the thing that figures mostly in
the indian fish killing
is a weed called
the devils shoestring   the root of
this weed is very bitter   it is
this nature of the weed that
causes the fish to rise to
the surface of the water

digging the strings is about
the hardest part of the whole
affair   it takes brain and muscle
to be able to get your quota

if it is a flowing stream
then the medicine is scattered into
the water in one place   if the kill
should be in water that is stationary
then the medicine must be scattered
or applied all over

before any of the participants
or anyone in the group
looked into the chosen water
a ceremonial was in order   the one
with the power of medicine paints a
color on the cheeks of everybody

it was a splendid reputation to
be called a good shot with the bow
and arrows   it was an honor to
kill the biggest fish during the
occasion   it took skill to
be able to look for and find
an arrow that has been lost in
the water   one must know how to
shoot the fish

thus ends the story of fish killing
     the longing in the hearts of the old
indians   who watch the modern day oil wells
and salt water become a menace to the lives of
the fish   continue to ache
     and they wish to know just why an honest mans
hunt for the fish for his use   to strengthen his
body that he may live longer   is more detrimental
than to kill a fish without thinking at all
     indian killed that which he needed   oil men
kill because they must have heaven on earth with
the money that he accumulates
Jefferson Berryhill
Reprinted from Reckoning 1 (2016).


Written by James Treat

June 21, 2017 at 1:00 am

Posted in found poems

One Response

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  1. Didn’t know about this method of fishing – interesting to read about it from the native point of view. Looking forward to reading a copy of the completed work!

    Marcia & Jim

    June 21, 2017 at 7:51 pm

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