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There stands an ancient tree

 On the reservation

 My grandmother calls it, our own.

 It's the biggest one, she boasts,

 You can see it from every hilltop.

 It'll never stop growing.

 It'll never stop giving.

 She loves to remind us

 Of its power and beauty

 She speaks as if it is part of her

 she remembers When sapplings

 Were sparse on the plains

 And grew in patches needing each other

 For shade and shelter

 When life was still virtuous and new.

 She beams with pride

 As she recalls the generations

 Through which our tree

 Faught and struggled to survive.

 She chuckles with joy

 Describing its bright blossoms every spring.

 Her soul drifts in peace

 Through the safety of its mass.

 But as stories

 Of attempted destruction remind her

 Of branches broken,

 She wails with sorrow and loss

 For our tree.

 For our lives.

 Changed forever.

 There are few low branches on our ancient tree

 And sap still beads where the thickest branches were torn.

 We remember.

 We mourn.

 Now our tree is hard to climb.

 The trunk is rough

 The bark is scarred

 And carries memories of seasons hard.

 But if you can climb up far enough

 To new life and fruit,

 The trunk becomes a memory;

 Though never forgotten.

 Grandmother explains that

 Where branches were torn

 Nourishing sun

 And quenching rains

 Fall straight to the trunk

 Deepening the protected roots

 And always preparing for the

 Never ending growth

 Of our Cheyenne family tree.

Jonathan Beartusk 2008

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