Unknown Algonquin Females, Circa 1800's

Jun 16, 2017

Carol Willette Bachofner is the author of four books of poems, the most recent - her collection, the Boyfriend Project, poems of love (maybe) was published in 2017 and her poems have been included in many anthologies, among these Dawnland Voices, an anthology of writings from Indigenous New England.

She writes, "As an indigenous writer, I am particularly sensitive to issue…(that) affect my tribe in terms of what we have experienced as political “erasure.” We have been variously romanticized and demonized, but mostly (in the name of so-called assimilation) we have been disappeared. We are no more gone than any other group. We are perhaps an endangered species so to speak, but that gets carried on and highlighted at the hands of non-indigenous folks who perhaps mean well but have little clue as to our feelings about our culture and our tenacity for survival."

Unknown Algonquin Females, Circa 1800s
by Carol Willette Bachofner

They dug up my grandmother, moved her
to the museum. No one stopped them.
I had no say. De-recognized by government,
filed at the BIA under “I” (Indian, former)
she’s been reduced to anthropology, curated
by bureaucrats, her bones on display
with the bones of a woman from an enemy tribe:
(Unknown, Algonquin Females, Circa 1800s)
No one sang a travel song for her to ease her bones
along the way; no giveaway, no mourning strings
to soften the sorrow. I have watched their grandmas
prayed and cried into the ground, names cut
into marble, bodies preserved under stones safe
behind iron gates. The governor's announcement claims
today: There are no Abenaki Indians left in Vermont.

Poem copyright © 2013 Carol Willette Bachofner.
Reprinted from Take Heart: Poems from Maine, Downeast Books, 2013
by permission of Carol Willette Bachofner.