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By Sara Littlecrow-Russell

Two hundred seventy

Ghost Dancers died dreaming

That humanity would drown

In a flood of White sins.


Then the renewed earth

Would reclaim city and town,

Leaving only Ghost Dancers

And those who lived by nature’s laws.


History books say the threat is gone.

The Ghost Dance died with the ancestors—

Wovoka and his sacred dream

Were destroyed.


Each time it rains,

I go out to the sidewalk,

Where the tree roots

Have broken the concrete

Listening to the water’s whispering:


“It is coming soon.”


Sara Littlecrow-Russell, “Ghost Dance” from The Secret Powers of Naming. Copyright © 2006 by Sara Littlecrow-Russell. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

Source: The Secret Powers of Naming (University of Arizona Press, 2006)

Poet Bio

Of Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe) and Han-Naxi Métis heritage, Sara Littlecrow-Russell is a lawyer and professional mediator as well as a poet. She has worked at the Center for Education and Policy Advocacy at the University of Massachusetts and for Community Partnerships for Social Change at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts. In the tradition of Native American storytelling, which uses stories to establish meaning in the lives of both listeners and tellers, Littlecrow-Russell’s poems name and tell stories as a form of communication; her work also calls into question prevalent stereotypes of Native Americans.

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