First published in Peter Blue Cloud's book Alcatraz Is Not an Island, these poems are just a few written by Native Americans during the Alcatraz occupation.
by Peter Blue Cloud
As Lighting strikes the Golden Gate
and fire dances the city's streets,
a Navajo child whimpers the tide's pull
and Sioux and Cheyenne dance lowly on the ground.
Tomorrow is breathing my shadow's heart
and a Tribe is an island, and a Tribe is an island
and silhouettes are the Katchina dancers
of my beautiful people.
Heart and heaven and spirit
written in a drum's life cycle
and a Tribe is and island, forever,
forever we have been an island.
As we sleep our dreaming in eagles,
a tribe is an island
and a tribe is a people-
in the eternity of Coyote's Mountain.
Throughout the cold and winter nights
We tended to our fires,
We drew our blankets close around
And watched the waves crash higher.
Though the cold waves beat on Alcatraz
Indian hearts are stout,
For white men think we'll go away-
But we'll live this winter out!
For the North Wind is our Brother;
We share his bitter shock;
Aii- we are the warriors of Alcatraz,
And we hold the rock!
We have mourned the passing of a girl
and the drums have cleared the rainbow path
and our voices have praised the wheeling sun,
day into dark
night into brighter day.
We hold hands in a circle unbroken
as eternal shadows dance foreverness
a girl, a child, a sister, a song -
we have wept the earth a sorrow,
Keepers of the Flame
by Helen C. Becker
I'll make my stand on Alcatraz
Tho it may be my last
Past souls are with me once again
'Tis the gathering of the past.
The broken bodies laid to waste
Upon the sands of time
'Tis like a mirror of myself
We cannot die this time.
We must new the very old
And rekindle the spark of life
This stand I make is not alone
There are thousands in this strife.
There are millions who would walk
Once more in gallant liberty
Across the plains and o'er the hills
To keep the fires of freedom free.
Tribute to Those Who Gave Their All
And hope to us who keep the flame
A will to live with the guts to fight
To hold high forever the Indian name.
So each to us who stands alone
Stands not alone but together
Each one do his mite or most
And we will stand forever.
Each one of you must hold the flame
O'er your head for all the world to see
Pick up the torch that was tossed to you
And walk again in Liberty.
To those of us who kept the flame
Out here alone on Alcatraz
We ask of you who really care
To be our strength on Alcatraz.
So once again the world will know
Of proud people they could not kill
Then as a untied army
We will walk beyond Alcatraz.