Blue Winds Dancing, Thomas S. Whitecloud
There is a moon out tonight. Moons and stars and cloud tipped with moonlight. And there is a
fall wind blowing in my heart. Ever since this evening, when against a fading sky I saw geese
wedge southward. They were going home...
Now I try to study, but against the pages I see them again, driving southward. Going home.
Across the valley there are heavy mountains holding up the sky, and beyond the mountains
there is home. Home, and peace, and the beat of drums, and blue winds dancing over
snowfields. The Indian lodge will fill with my people, and our gods will come and sit among them.
But home is beyond the mountains, and I am here. Here where fall hides in the valleys, and
winter never comes down from the mountains. Here where all the trees grow in rows; the palms
stand stiffly by the roadsides and in the groves the orange trees line in military rows, and
endlessly bear fruit. Beautiful, yes; there is always beauty in order, in rows of growing things!
But it is the beauty of captivity. A pine fighting for existence on a windy knoll is much more
In my Wisconsin, the leaves change before the snows come. In the air is the smell of wild rice
and venison cooking; and when the winds come whispering through the forests, they carry the
smell of rotting leaves. In the evenings, the loon calls, lonely; and birds sing their last songs
before leaving. Bears dig roots and eat late fall berries, fattening for their long winter sleep.
Later, when the first snows fall, one awakens in the morning to find the world white and
beautiful and clean. Then one can look back over his trail and see the tracks following. In the
woods there are tracks of deer and snowshoe rabbits, and long streaks where partridges slide
to alight. Chipmunks make tiny footprints on the limbs and one can hear squirrels busy in
hollow trees, sorting acorns. Soft lake waves wash the shores, and sunsets burst each evening
over the lakes, and make them look as if they were afire.
That land which is my home! Beautiful, calm -- where there is no hurry to get anywhere, no
driving to keep up in a race that knows no ending and no goal. No classes where men talk and
talk and then stop now and then to hear their own words come back to them from the students.
No constant peering into the maelstrom of one's mind; no worries about grades and honors; no
hysterical preparing for life until that life is half over; no anxiety about one's place in the thing
they call Society.
I hear again the ring of axes in deep woods, the crunch of snow beneath my feet. I feel again
the smooth velvet of ghostbirch bark. I hear the rhythm of the drums... I am tired. I am weary
of trying to keep up this bluff of being civilized. Being civilized means trying to do everything
you don't want to, never doing everything you want to. It means dancing to the strings of
custom and tradition; it means living in houses and never knowing or caring who is next door.
These civilized white men want us to be like them -- always dissatisfied -- getting a hill and
wanting a mountain.
Then again, maybe I am not tired. Maybe I'm licked. Maybe I am just not smart enough to grasp
these things that go to make up civilization. Maybe I am just too lazy to think hard enough to
Still, I know my people have many things that civilization has taken from the whites. They
know how to give; how to tear one's piece of meat in two and share it with one's brother.
They know how to sing--how to make each man his song and sing them; for their music they do not
need to listen to other man singing over a radio. They know how to make things with their
hands, how to shape beads into design and make a thing of beauty from a piece of birch bark.
But we are inferior. It is terrible to have to feel inferior; to have to read reports of intelligence
tests, and learn that one's race is behind. It is terrible to sit in class and hear men tell you that
your people worship sticks of wood--that your gods are all false, that the Manitou forgot your
people and did not write them a book.
I am tired. I want to walk again among the ghost-birches. I want to see the leaves turn in
autumn, the smoke rise from the lodgehouses, and to feel the blue winds, and to feel the blue
winds. I want to hear the drums; I want to hear the drums and feel the blue whispering winds,
There is a train wailing into the night. The trains go across the mountains. It would be easy to
catch a freight. They will say he has gone back to the blanket; I don't care. The dance at
Whitecloud, Thomas S. Blue Winds Dancing. N.p.: Cloudfront.net, n.d. PDF.
The repeated use of onomatopoeia suggests that