The Lost Journals of Sacajewea

The Lost Journals of Sacajewea

The following is from Debra Magpie Earling’s The Lost Journals of Sacajewea . Earling has received both a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She retired from the University of Montana where she was named professor emeritus in 2021. She is Bitterroot Salish. An earlier version of The Lost Journals of Sacajewea , written in verse, was produced as an artist book during the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. In my seventh winter, when my head only reached my Appe’s rib, a White Man came into camp. Bare trees scratched Sky. Cold was endless. He moved through trees like strikes of Sunlight. My Bia said He came with bad intentions like a Water Baby’s cry. Old Ones said this Man was the craziest White Man they had seen. Young Ones said this was the only White Man they had seen. Our wise One, Flatbird, asked Agai River if this was the very White Man sent from our Old Stories, but River did not answer. See. He does not come with Horses, People said. He does not have pelts to trade. In that black winter, His clothes were tattered, brittle-cold; they fell from Him in pieces like leaves fall from Trees. Snow had scraped His feet to bones. At first, People were afraid of Him. How did He survive? People asked. Only a crazy One could survive with no covering and no food. He is no Man, some said. Look at His skin. His skin was frail pond ice when Moon lifts day. He shook like a dog shakes water. Crazy shaking. Day and night He shook. My Appe fed Him and covered Him with our best robes. For many days, White Man sat beside our cook fire rubbing His palms together. He was like a hunk of frozen Buffalo; He stole the fire heat. And after many days, He became like the white Trees that line the Turtle marsh. His bark peeled. We saw bone shine, His back bared to wings. His fingers thawed, slushed, then stank. His penis turned to ash. Our […]

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