Saturday, October 7, 2017

I Am An Indian - Kent Gooderham

"This book is the FIRST anthology of Indian literature to be published in Canada. It has been written and illustrated by men and women who are called Indians, but who think of themselves as Sioux or Salish, Ojibway or Delaware, Abnakis or Assiniboine."

                                                                                                      - Kent Gooderham

Going through boxes of books this month in my garage I found one book that belonged to my late mother, whom I miss so much. I didn't know where it was, and was afraid I'd somehow lost it, after searching everywhere for it a few months back, but I was so happy to know I still had this special book that I'd tucked safely away.

On the inside of the cover my mother signed her name and dated it 1969.   The book is entitled, I Am In An Indian which was first passed onto her when she worked for what was then known as the Department of Indian Affairs. It was edited by Kent Gooderham and Published by J.M. Dent & Sons (Canada) Limited. I'd searched online for this book a few months ago before I found it in my garage. I wished it was reprinted again, as it's very worthwhile reading.

My late husband was of Cree and Metis heritage. Because of that, and after taking my own spiritual quest and journey over my life, I've found that the spirituality of Indigenous people is what I most strongly identify with now. It makes me feel closer to my much loved, late husband, and to my mother who first introduced me to this book of story tellers, poems, songs, artwork created, told by First Nations themselves throughout Canada.

I Am An Indian may seem dated to some, but it's still very relevant today, if not more so. It was the first hard book copy written the same year my mother shared it with me when I was 16 years old.  It comforts me now to re-read it again, after all these years.

Drums of My Father

A hundred thousand years have passed
Yet, I hear the distant beat of my father's drums
I hear his drums throughout the land
His beat I feel within my heart.

The drums shall beat, so my heart shall beat,
And I shall live a hundred thousand years.

                                                              - Shirley Daniels

"Mary Jane Sterling is a member of the Thompson River (Nteakyapamuk) Indian Band. She wrote the following comment on school life when she was many miles away from her home in central British Columbia attending school in Vancouver Island."

Thoughts On Silence

What am I doing here
Among these strange people
Sitting in these funny desks
Staring at paper?
Oh yes, I am in school.
These are my classmates.
Though they chatter all the time
They are silent now.
Now I can think.
I see a bird flying high in the air.
Maybe it is flying south.
My heart leaps with the bird
Taking a message to my mother.
My mind is heavy, thinking something sad has
Happened at home.
But the birds are singing
Everything is all right.
The breeze has whispered something in my ear.
I hope it whispers the same joyous words to my people.
I get lonely for my family and I especially miss my mother
But I shall see them all soon.
When we meet we won't even touch hands
But our hearts will leap with joy
And our minds will be glad.
                                 - Mary Jane Sterling

Virginia and Gladys by Daphne (Odjig) Beavon