Kootenai Covenant

Deadwood reservoir (2)
As constant as the morning sun

burning the mist off Snowshoe Peak,

the Kootenai keep their covenant

with Quilxka Nupika,

who charged them

“to guard and keep the land forever.”

When white men came

with guns and threats,

treaties and disease,

the Kootenai refused to sign,

their promises to the Supreme Creator

already sealed in their hearts.

As stewards of the earth,

they watched over deer and antelope,

glided in sturgeon-nosed canoes

through lakes and rivers; and

harvested roots and berries

provided by the Creator-Spirit.

The People of the Standing Arrow still

sit silently by the swinging bridge,

listening for the whispers of the ancestors

and the sacred stillness of God,

that they may faithfully bear

the standard of fealty forever.

 

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About Judy Grigg Hansen
I write poetry and nonfiction, and I am passionate about the people, places, and wildflowers of Idaho and the Northwest.

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