By Joy Harjo
We begin with the land. We emerge from the earth of our mother, and our bodies will be returned to earth. We are the land. We cannot own it, no matter any proclamation by paper state. We are literally the land, a planet. Our spirits inhabit this place. We are not the only ones. We are creators of this place with each other. We mark our existence with our creations. It is poetry that holds the songs of becoming, of change, of dreaming, and it is poetry we turn to when we travel those places of transformation, like birth, coming of age, marriage, accomplishments, and death. We sing our children, grandchildren, great- grandchildren: our human experience in time, into and through existence.
When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Song Came Through, then, is a way to pass on the poetry that has emerged from rich traditions of the very diverse cultures of indigenous peoples from these indigenous lands, to share it. Most readers will have no idea that there is or was a single Native poet, let alone the number included in this anthology. Our existence as sentient human beings in the establishment of this country was denied. Our presence is still an afterthought, and fraught with tension, because our continued presence means that the mythic storyline of the founding of this country is inaccurate. The United States is a very young country and has been in existence for only a few hundred years. Indigenous peoples have been here for thousands upon thousands of years and we are still here.
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