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Lakota Funeral Song

We sing no strong-heart songs today
For a brave warrior has been taken from his people
The wailing and keening of the Oglala women is loud
Their protector, Kawano, was stabbed by the drunken Menah

Yesterday, the white trader took the Oglala robes and skins and gave my people his firewater.
The night was long, full of fighting, shouting and young men getting sick.
When the sun woke the camp the next morning
Kawano lay dead by his tipi, the knife of Menah still in his back

Now, even while the mourning takes place, the people of Kawano arm themselves
For they must avenge the murder of their fallen leader
Menah must be killed, his people driven from the camp in disgrace
Oglala brother killing Oglala brother

Before the whiteman came, my people did not kill each other
We were as birds in their nests are to their young
We fought only our enemies, the Crow or Snakes
Now the firewater makes our young men have the crazy dreams

Our women have the disease from the blue coat soldiers
The old men cough up blood from the whiteman's coughing sickness
Our camps are full of half white babies
The buffalo are as scarce as the snow in the Moon of Blackening Cherries

Today we sing the funeral song for the mighty Kawano
But the Tree of the People is dying
Our nation is being consumed by the white fire that sweeps across the prairies
Tomorrow, we shall sing the funeral song for all the Lakota people.

© Richard L. DuMont 2017

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