Indigenous Thought: Language and Resistance - Poetry by Carter Revard

Busy, busy, busy, but couldn't keep this to myself. The free college courses continue.

Today's lesson features two excerpts from Post Colonial Hyberbaggage: A Few Poems of Resistance and Survival by Carter Revard.

Carter Revard was born in Pawhuska, Oklahoma in 1931. He is Osage on his father’s side and was given his Osage name (Nompehwahthe) in 1952. He grew up on the Osage Reservation and attended the University of Tulsa, Oxford University and received his PhD from Yale University. Now retired, he is a Professor Emeritus of English. He wrote Ponca War Dances, Cowboys and Indians, Christmas Shopping, An Eagle Nation, Family Matters, and Winning in the Dust Bowl.

“I tried to jam into these poems some of the more horrible and hopeful fruits of political, semi scientific, and other actualities gathered in the United States of America over the years 1931 to 2000.” – Carter Revard.

The Secret Verbs

They're hidden right in plain sight.
Take Unassigned Lands for instance: what's the verb?
To Unassign.
A powerful verb, in 1889 it grabbed
almost two million acres of Indian lands
where Oklahoma City squats with all
those other towns, wheat farms and ranches
oil wells and politicians.
(Yes, I know how SQUAT infects its many subjects.)
Why call them Unassigned?
Well, after the CIVIL War, the Creeks
and Seminoles were forced to concede
this land for settlement by freed slaves.
Quite understandably, no one ever
assigned the land to slaves.
So what that past participle means is this:
We UNASSIGN these lands to Blacks or Indians.
We now ASSIGN them to Americans,
so long as they are WHITE.
That's all the grammar lesson for today,
but for tomorrow, why not look around
at other participles and adjectives
which have deleted agents and unspoken objects,
and which are negative?
You see how powerful they are—
and how they hide their power? And how
like redstriped sheets they cover both
the SUBJECT and the OBJECTS of their actions?
Just for instance,
the words DIScover and COVER,
or DISinform, or UNAmerican,
or UNused land.
How we UNuse our language
is maybe worth a thought, in a
CENTENNIAL year—and every year's
centennial of something, isn't it?

A Brief Guide to American History Teachers

Q: Name several American Holocausts, the nations involved, and the places where these were accomplished.

A: Missouri, Illinois, Miami, New England, Virginia, and most place names in the United States. For more advanced students, the answer can extend to North and South America.

What kind of un-American creep would give that answer?

A Native American. Of course, a truly patriotic American might have known better than to ask the question. In such cases, silence is the only way to avoid acknowledging guilt. There have been no American Holocausts, and we all should realize this truth. It is self-evident, since we believe all men are created equal, that we would not do what those nasty Europeans did. They are racist bigots, we are the people who got rid of the old prejudices and refused to do terrible things, unless the Lord commanded it. We have pure hearts, pure motives, and pure history.

What advantages are there to the true Americans if they deny that there has been any American Holocaust?

It allows them to be outraged at Other Monsters. Also, it lets them focus on the terrible things done overseas—in Ruanda (sic), Bosnia, the Caucasus, Iraq—so that no one will notice what is still going on here. Since there was only the one Holocaust, we can be wonderfully virtuous in supporting its victims, and we know that we do not have to worry about being on the right side. So this justifies our putting up a monument in Washington D.C to that one Holocaust, and not putting anything there which might hint that there was anything like it in this country.

Is this matter relevant to the origins, makeup, and functions of the United Nations?

Yes. I do not dare, however, to answer in more detail. No true American can afford to consider the question of whether Native American nations are truly sovereign. De facto, De Deo must be their mighty fortress. When Franklin Roosevelt, about 1942, discussed the postwar realignments with Winston Churchill, he reminded Churchill of what the English were doing in their colonies. Churchill then reminded Roosevelt of two cases: blacks in Mississippi, and Navajos in Arizona. Roosevelt shut up. It is the only safe answer.

You conclude that American History should not be taught.

Of course not: it never has been, and this is no time to begin doing so.


  1. Q: You conclude that American History should not be taught.

    A: Of course not: it never has been, and this is no time to begin doing so.

    **Bows down - Hero Worship**

  2. Worship indeed. Carver Revard is officially one of my new heroes.

  3. Reminds me of a poster I saw once, called "Ignorance: When did it become a point of view?"

  4. @Student
    I want that poster!

    You wouldn't believe how much I've learned over the last few weeks and when time permits, everything will be shared.

  5. This is awesome. I've noticed how most American History classes seem to have a "Momento" thing going on.

  6. @GoddessMaverick
    I've noticed how most American History classes seem to have a "Momento" thing going on.

    Which pretty much explains the sorry state of the country right here and right now. More real American History is forthcoming.


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