The Guilt of Wounded Knee

Leonard Peltier in Prison Writings depicts the second battle at Wounded Knee, a day in October 1975 when two FBI agents were murdered.  Peltier, part of the American Indian Movement has been serving his two life sentences; however he maintains that he did not kill the agents, and much of the evidence points to his innocence.

How ignorant of me:
On the Arizona Reservation
I thought the brown-skinned
Family of ten I saw in that white station
Wagon was Mexican.  They were Indian.
North American, like me, but the real thing.

They stared at me and I looked at
The clay beneath my dusty feet.
I knew what they were thinking
(Or at least I thought I knew): "Gringa."
And maybe they were, but it
Probably was more like : "Watchishu"
"White Man," evil one
that brings about the sun
dance, the dance of pain.

I want to shout, "I didn't do anything!"
But just as Peltier claims his guilt is for being Indian,
So mine is for being white.  But I
Never meant to take your land, I cry.
I was born here. As if anyone has a choice
of where they're born.  If I could

sweep history up and roll it into
A new clump of earth, a new world,
I would gladly place it in your ancient
Hands.  But still the fear I hold: that
You would aim and throw it back.

(c) Katherine M. Mercurio 2002

(C) Katherine M. Mercurio 2002
Katherine M. Mercurio
Is a distance learning instructor in poetry and creative writing.
Leonard Peltier