Indians Sure Came in Handy


Simon Ortiz

There was a Greek
who was the city judge
in the late 1950's and early 60's
and he got in early
on the uranium boom business.

The workers were trying to organize then,
you know.
A lot of them had come in,
miners from West Virginia, Montana,
Colorado, oilfield workers
from Oklahoma, Texas, Louisana.
The mines were pretty dangerous, wet,
water a foot deep most of the time,
and the companies said
there just wasn't enough timbers
to go around; there were cave-ins.
The companies just couldn't mine fast enough
to keep up with the demand
for yellowcake the Atomic Energy Commission
was buying and stockpiling then.

The mine superintendents
and the city judge,
who was also with the Chamber of Commerce,
were all good friends, of course.
They played golf at the Zuni Country Club.

During that organizing time
and during that strike in 1961
that jail full of Indians sure came in handy.
The jailer would even call in sick for you
and tell you which mines were hiring Indians.
The unions didn't have much of a chance,
and Grants just kept on booming.

From Woven Stone by Simon Ortiz (originally from Going for the Rain),Vol. 21, in Sun Tracks an American Indian Literary Series, University of Arizona Press.
© 1992 Simon Ortiz Buy Now

Books by Simon Ortiz

Woven Stone, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
Men on the Moon : Collected Short Stories, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
After and Before the Lightning , Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
Speaking for the Generations : Native Writers on Writing, Simon Ortiz (Editor), Univ. Arizona Press.
From Sand Creek : Rising in This Heart Which Is Our America, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press.
The People Shall Continue, Simon Ortiz, Children's Book Press. (Library Binding)

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