Monday, June 22, 2009
Sure You Can Ask Me A Personal Question
How do you do?
No, I am not Chinese.
No, not Spanish.
No, I am American Indi-uh, Native American.
No, not from India.
No, not Apache.
No, not Navajo.
No, not Sioux.
No, we are not extinct.
So, that's where you got those high cheekbones.
Your great grandmother, huh?
An Indian Princess, huh?
Hair down to there?
Let me guess. Cherokee?
Oh, so you've had an Indian friend?
Oh, so you've had an Indian lover?
Oh, so you've had an Indian servant?
Yeah, it was awful what you guys did to us.
It's real decent of you to apologize.
No, I don't know where you can get peyote.
No, I don't know where you can get Navajo rugs real cheap.
No, I didn't make this. I bought it at Bloomingdales.
Thank you. I like your hair too.
I don't know if anyone knows whether or not Cher is really Indian.
No, I didn't make it rain tonight.
Yeah. Uh-huh. Spirituality.
Uh-huh. Yeah. Spirituality. Uh-huh. Mother
Earth. Yeah Uh'huh. Uh-huh. Spirituality.
No, I didn't major in archery.
Yeah, a lot of us drink too much.
Some of us can't drink enough.
This ain't no stoic look.
This is my face.
Diane Burns (Chemehuevi and Anishinabe) was a poet and painter. She published one book of poems, Riding the One-Eyed Ford, in 1981. When she died in 2006, she was working on a novel about a Native American beauty queen. You can read more about her in this remembrance, and some of her other writings appear here.
[This poem also appears online here, here, here, here, here, and other places.]