They call it Methow Valley

by Thomas Hubbard
They call this place Methow Valley
yeah, well  .   .   .

Did they call themselves sun people,
that Smeetheowe tribe living here
before the invasion? Or did that years-ago
whiteman interpret their name correctly?
What became of them, a whole tribe?
Gone, except for one word?

Back in the Ozarks
(and who knows what the old people
called those hills?)

But yes,
back in the Ozarks a river runs,
Buffalo River, now there's a name to
serve everyone, except they
murdered all the buffalo.

Why? Because they could, and
buffalo got onto the train tracks, and
of course there was the Indian problem.
Kill off the buffalo, starve those
damn diehard heathens for harassing settlers.

Why not quit fighting,
come live in canvas tents
downwind of stinking forts?
Why not subsist on flour, sugar and lard
instead of following buffalo herds,
free on land covered by ancestors' footprints?

Maybe that forgotten band of
men, women, children, dogs, treasures .  .  .
all those relations, jokes, quarrels
maybe they chose extinction
to avoid assimilation, enit?

They call this place Methow Valley, but then
how do these mountains feel, and this river
about what's lost? After all, this valley
recalls thousands of free-running summers, and
sleepy winters beneath ice and snow, long before
bulldozers, bridges, roads, power cables and
various "improvements."

They call this place Methow Valley
yeah, well .  .  .  .

© 2005 Thomas Hubbard

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