Simon Joseph Ortiz (1941-)
A New Story
1Several years ago,
2I was a patient at the VA hospital
3in Ft, Lyons, Colorado.
4I got a message to call this woman,
5so I called her up.
6She said to me,
7"I'm looking for an Indian.
8Are you an Indian?"
9"Yes," I said.
10"Oh good," she said,
11"I'll explain why I'm looking
12for an Indian."
13And she explained.
14"Every year, we put on a parade
15in town, a Frontier Day Parade.
16It's exciting and important,
17and we have a lot of participation."
18"Yes," I said.
19"Well," she said, "Our theme
21and we try to do it well.
22In the past, we used to make up
23paper mache Indians,
24but that was years ago."
25"Yes," I said.
26"And then more recently,
27we had some people
28who dressed up as Indians
29to make it more authentic,
30you understand, real people."
31"Yes," I said.
32"Well," she said,
33"that didn't seem right,
34but we had a problem.
35There was a lack of Indians."
36"Yes," I said.
37"This year, we wanted to do it right.
38We have looked hard and high
39for Indians but there didn't seem
40to be any in this part of Colorado."
41"Yes," I said.
42"We want to make it real, you understand,
43put a real Indian on a float,
44not just a paper mache dummy
45or an Anglo dressed as an Indian
46but a real Indian with feathers and paint.
47Maybe even a medicine man."
48"Yes," I said.
49"And then we learned the VA hospital
50had an Indian here.
51We were so happy,"
52she said, happily.
53"Yes," I said.
54"there are several of us here."
55"Oh good," she said.
56Well, last Spring
57I got another message
58at the college where I worked.
59I called the woman.
60She was so happy
61that I returned her call.
62Then she explained
63that Sir Francis Drake,
64the English pirate
65(she didn't say that, I did)
66was going to land on the coast
67of California in June, again.
68And then she said
69she was looking for Indians . . .
70"No," I said. No.
2] Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Fort Lyon, Colorado.
15] Cheyenne, Wyoming (near Colorado), for example holds a Frontier Day Parade in July.
Online text copyright © 2004, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Ortiz, Simon J. Woven Stone. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 1992: 363-65.
Publication date note: Ortiz, Simon J. Fight Back: For the Sake of the People; For the Sake of the Land. 1980
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2004
Recent editing: 1:2004/6/30
Other poems by Simon Joseph Ortiz