Date of this Version
Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1985. Major: English.
The poems in this collection grew out of the poem, “No Parole Today” written in response to the Santa Fe prison riots that took place several years ago. From that single poem I began to think about institutions and the effect they have on people inside those institutions. From personal experience I could only relate it to the years I spent living in a government boarding school in Albuquerque, New Mexico during the years 1966 through 1970. While I lived at the Indian school, I attended public school under the Bordertown program, as it was called. Albuquerque was a couple of hundred miles away from my home on the Navajo reservation in New Mexico. The reason for leaving the reservation was because the nearest school was over forty miles away from my home in Crystal. The travelling would have created a hardship for my family and myself therefore it was my mother’s decision to place my brothers and I at the Albuquerque Indian school.
As conquered people of the American government, Native American people have had to deal with United States institutions in almost every segment of reservation life. Indian lands were relinquished in return for specific services outlined in the peace treaties. Among these were for the education and health care of Native American people. In my generation as well as in my parents’ and grandparents’ generation, we have been a part of that educational institution that was created for us. I became more aware of this through my grandmother’s narrative in the final section of this collection.
This collection of poetry is divided into four parts beginning with the poems that take place at the Albuquerque Indian School. In many ways this collection is a personal journey beginning with my experiences and culminating in my grandmother’s narrative. In the second section I’ve included a few protest poems that take place outside of the Indian school. In the third section beginning with “At Mexican Springs,” I wanted to show a contrast between living at the Indian school with living at home and the kind of education that is presented there. In this section the poems deal with what the traditional life gives to the individual through creation and regeneration of the Indian soul.
I have been working on these poems throughout several years. It was my intent that Native American people particularly Navajos would be my audience. Since writing and publishing by Native Americans is relatively new, I realize my intended audience may be limited. It seems, then, my audience is anyone interested in what I have to say be they Native American or not.
Advisor: Charles Stubblefield