Many reservations are rural ghettos, intentionally located as far away from the rest of the world as possible. I, like many other indomitable Native Americans, have made it off my reservation. Though I am still reminded every day of the polluting of the land that I love with a society that tried to break me, I rise; we rise.



I know your heartache, living on a land so vast that it begins to haunt you. And as you run at the break of dawn, the path never ends. Your prayers and cries are heard only by forgotten souls, who carry your feet, both haunting and comforting. You are lost, defaulting to anger, but you are not alone.

You are living on land designed to break you. Designed to tear your family apart, to convince you that there is no world outside of its borders. Hope is a white word that has no meaning to you. A word not meant for you. You are living on land encompassed to kill you. They have tricked you into believing that you do not matter, that you are less than them, less than human.

You reside inside an arena, as they are looking in, watching everyday as you refuse to give up. You confuse them. How are you still alive? You were placed there, left to disappear into the sunset, but you did not fulfill their myth. Instead, you protest their lies and protect what you have left. And they return, always to take more of your land, your teachings, your music, your beauty and call it their own. They take pieces of you to build themselves up.

But you remain whole in faith, spirit, and pride.

They never considered that this land could never kill you, because she is your mother.

They poison her veins and sell her body.

But you,

you protect your mother

you pray, you sing, you cry for your mother

you die for your mother

as she has continuously done for you.

She has made you strong.

It is the reservation that taught you to walk boldly, but carefully, and always in beauty; never alone.

I know your heartache.

I feel the pieces that are missing too.

Published by Shandiin Herrera

Diné, Duke University Alumna, Lead for America Hometown Fellow

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