University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Poetry Read aloud at fireside: Sacred Ground II

April 10, 2014

By: Suzan Shown Harjo

Opening Celebration March 1, 2014
Native American Voices: The People – Here and Now

Sacred Ground II

Eagles disappear into the sun
surrounded by light from the face of Creation
then scream their way home
with burning Messages of mystery and power

some are given to snake doctors and ants and turtles and salmon
to heal the world
with order and patience
some are given to cardinals and butterflies and yellow medicine flowers
to heal the world
with joy, with joy

some are given to bears and buffalos and human peoples
to heal the world
with courage and prayer

Messages for holy places
in the heart of Mother Earth
deep inside the Old Stone Woman
whose wrinkles are canyons

in the roaring waters and clear blue streams
and bottomless lakes
who take what they need

in the forests of grandfather cedars
and mountains of grandmother sentinel rocks
who counsel ‘til dawn

Messages for holy places
where snow thunder warns
and summer winds whisper
this is Sacred Ground

Sacred Ground at Spirit Falls
where small round stones have secrets
that clear-cutters can never discover

Sacred Ground at Sand Creek and Wounded Knee
Indian Island, Sky City and the Washita
where innocents were invaded
and skinned and hacked and beheaded
now, Ancestor shards and shirts and medicine bags
are trophies in hidden vaults in glass houses

Sacred Ground at Steptoe Butte and Palo Duro Canyon
where blankets of wild roses and blackfoot daisies
dull screams of ponies in the night

Sacred Ground at Summit Springs, Horseshoe Bend and Greasy Grass
where mothers still search for children
and warriors’ calls are heard at dawn

Sacred Ground at Mount Graham, Dzil Nchaa Si An
where Apaches pray for a peaceful world
invisible through vatican telescopes

Sacred Ground at Bear Butte, Nowawus
where Cheyennes and Lakotas hide from tourists
and dress the trees in ermine tails
and red-tail hawk feathers
and ribbons of prayers to the Life-Givers

Sacred Ground at the San Francisco Peaks
where Navajos and Hopis
dodge ski bums and poison snow
to settle the Spirits
where they walk

Sacred Ground at Snoqualmie Falls, Transformer’s Gift to the People
and Medicine Lake, Saht Tit Lah, Obsidian Knife Lake
where electric grids and hydro-frackers
cannot harness the healing power of mist
at the center of Creation

Sacred Ground at Echota
where even tellico’s dam engineers
hear Tsalagi voices
through the burial waters

Sacred Ground at Hickory Ground, Wetumpka
where long-ago Muscogee touch Medicine and shake Shells
and Coosa songs sing inside Ancestor Fire
as morning sun burns off low-ground fog
and Mvskoke Hotvke blow poarch dust back to jackson

Sacred Ground at Pyramid Lake Stone Mother
Thunder Mountain and Mount Adams
Kootenai Falls and the Jemez Mountains
Seven Falls and Deer Medicine Rocks
Kaho’olawe and Wakarusa Wetlands
Serpent Mound and Valley of the Shields
Bear Medicine Lodge and Garden of the Gods
Antelope Hills and the Badlands
Rattlesnake Island and Puget Sound
Boboquivari Mountain and Fajada Butte
where vision-questers seek Gifts of the Spirit
where Fire Clouds and Walking Waters stand guard

Sacred Ground at Badger Two Medicine and the Black Hills
Crazy Mountain and the Sweetgrass Hills
South Mountain and Indian Pass
Longhorn, Hatchet and Bunchgrass Mountains
Apache Leap and Chief Mountain
Mount Taylor and Eagle Rock
Wolf River and Mount Tenabo
Valmont Butte and Black Mesa
Yucca Mountain and Woodruff Butte
Red Butte and Bristol Bay
where miners have drills for arms
and gold in their eyes

Sacred Ground at Wind Cave and Cave Rock
Onondaga Lake and the Maze
Medicine Bluff and Zuni Salt Lake
Nine Mile Canyon and Walking Woman Place
Mount Shasta and the Everglades
Chimney Rock and Wao Kele O Puna
Ganondagan and Medicine Hole
Taos Blue Lake and Bear Lake
Moundville and Tus Us
Rainbow Bridge and Chief Cliff
Okmulgee Old Fields and Kasha-Katuwe

and all the Petroglyph Walls and Shell Mounds
and Freshwater Springs and Rushing Waters
and Ceremonial Grounds and Red Rocks
and Origin Places and Holy Mountains
and Medicine Wheels and Ancestor Paths

and all the doors to the passages of time
to Sacred Ground of other worlds

where suns light the way
for eagles to carry
Messages for Fires on

Sacred Ground

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