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Full Circle

Full Circle

Tied for third place in the Sally Manning Award for Indigenous Creative Non-Fiction
By Catherine Lafferty
May 25
2018
From the April/May 2018 Issue

We know what it’s like to live on the land,
To hunt for our dinner and work with our hands,

We know what it’s like to kill a beast,
To use it for shelter, clothing and heat.
We know what it’s like to scrape the hides,
To tan the pelt and smoke it dry,
To use every part meticulously;

To give thanks for offering itself for our needs.

To use the sinew and the bones,
To make the arrows and the bows,
To walk for miles in the snow,

Blinded by winter’s glow.
Pulling our siblings in the sleigh,
Packing them on our backs in the rain,

Running the dogs outside in the cold,

Trading muskrat fur for gold.
Using the roots for medicine,
Plucking the geese and ptarmigan,

Washing our clothes on a washboard,

Making fresh bannock with flour and lard.

Picking wild berries in the fields,
Fishing without line or reel,
Checking the nets in the lake,

Scaling the fish on the cold slate.
Sleeping on a bed of soft moss,
Breathing in the morning frost.
We know when the birds will arrive from the south,

We know when the wolf preys on the grouse.

We know when the sun sets in the west,

When the robins begin to make their nests.

We know the ice melts first in the east,

And when in the north it starts to freeze.

To sing and dance to our own beat,

Under the watch of our legends,
Under the stars in the heavens,
In the land of the midnight sun,
The elders share their wisdom,
Of the connection between earth and man,

They passed this knowledge into our hands.

We know what it’s like to speak our mother tongue,

To be proud of where we are from.
We know what it’s like to live free,

And we must not forget our history.
We are the sap,
That bleeds from the trees;
We are the scattered leaves in the breeze;

We are the ravens,

That crow at your door;

We are the bears,

Hungry for more;
We are the migration,

In the barren lands.
We are the ancients waiting deep in the lakes,

Near the cliffs that take your breath away;

We are the rumbling deep in the ground,
The silenced voices ready for sound;
We are the last hope of the land;
We are the guardians taking a stand;
We are the rings on the back of the turtle,

Our nations will rise again,
Full circle.