People who are supposed to know

say, “If your great grandfather was Tsalagi

then he would have to have been buried in a box coated with ink,

thinner than the fingernail pressing on a fountain pen

where your great uncle and aunt’s names

were laid to rest

on the Dawes Roll”

So I look for him

past family stories , and Indian blood

past sentries the new Government appointed

to conquer and divide

past tribe members spitting wannabe hate

whose veins still remember Grandfather River

but have forgotten

the salmon who finds her way home

“An Indian is an Indian regardless of the degree of Indian blood or which little government card they do or do not possess.” Wilma Mankiller

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