As Long as Eagle Flies[1]  (A Rannaigheacht Ghairid)

Elizabeth Spragins
@elizabeth-spragins
11/09/17 05:26:06PM
5 posts

This they swore—
Strangers eager to explore
Traversed our hills undaunted,
Wanted passage, nothing more.

They found gold—
Riches made prospectors bold.
On the Black Hills, ours by right,
White man’s treaties did not hold.

To end war,
In exchange for golden ore
They drove us to Standing Rock,
Fenced like flock forevermore.

Gold-plate lies:
Words on paper recognize
Borders where the rivers roam,
Home as long as eagle flies.

Army Corps
Threatens homeland as before.[2]
We draw bows with words to fight,
Cite the treaty they ignore.

Eagles soar—
Though they claim the treaty tore,
On Black Hills of Dakota
To Lakota, this they swore.

First published as “Riven and Other Poetry in Traditional Bardic Forms by Elizabeth Spencer Spragins.”  Society of Classical Poets, 22 Feb. 2017.

[1] The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1851 recognized the sovereignty of the Lakota Sioux over the Great Plains “as long as the river flows and the eagle flies.”  The Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 prohibited white settlement in the Black Hills for all time, but the subsequent discovery of gold generated an influx of miners who violated the treaty with impunity.

 [2] The Lakota protested construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the grounds that the project would contaminate their sole source of drinking water and disrupt their sacred lands. The completed pipeline passes under the Missouri River less than one mile upstream of the Standing Rock Reservation.

 

References:

Clark, Linda Darus. “Sioux Treaty of 1868.” National Archives. Reviewed 23 Sept. 2016. Web. https://www.archives.gov/education/lessons/sioux-treaty. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.

National Park Service. “Treaties and Broken Promises.” https://www.nps.gov/wica/learn/historyculture/upload/-7e-5-Chapter-Five-Treaties-and-Broken-Promises-Pp-84-132.pdf. Accessed 4 Feb. 2017.