by Thomas Davis
To Trevor Moeke
Makwa fits you good:
He wanders around the grounds,
Rolling like a meadow rolls,
Growling here and there
With the song of who he is
And greeting morning and evening skies
With the power of his presence.
His earth spirit
Gathered from earth, wind, water, sky.
Walking in sunshine
Between startling whiteness
Of tepees that point poles
Toward a startling blue sky,
He smiles with white teeth
And laughs with a deepness
That shakes aspen leaves
And sets them to dancing
Even though there is no wind.
Note: Trevor Moeke is a Maori leader who is the current Co-Chair of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (www.win-hec.org). Makwa, in Anishinabe, means bear. This poem was written on the Shoney Reserve in Canada immediately after the meeting that formed WINHEC.
by Thomas Davis
Two long days of writing a constitution
And making the structure of an accreditation authority
And then the long drive from Porirua to Hamilton
Through the Ruahine range of mountains
And the mountains and hills of the Wanganui River.
All through the day we passed from sunshine to storm,
Rain and even hail blowing out of clouds
That crept white and shifting down mountains
Where rows of pines waited for cover
Before they marched in maneuvers
Designed to confuse the eyes of hawks and human beings.
We traveled so long we forgot about the white manes of seahorses
That galloped in heavy winds beneath the ocean
Into the unmoving rocks of shore.
Rainbows walked ahead of us for hours,
Sometimes one, bright in its arching,
And at other times two, the dark one larger than the bright one
And always trailing behind,
A mother watching out for her adventuresome child
That once darted so close to us it made the wet branches of a pine tree shine.
We did not stop at the proceedings at Moutoa Gardens
Where Maori camped in bright colored tents,
Occupying ground in order to assert sovereignty
As old as the naming of the shaky isles by the Aborigine,
But passed gorges plunging to river waters
Below greenness that covered hills and mountains
And fell into valleys blessed by singing birds
That kept trying to tell of the rainbow’s walking glory.
At the Lady of the Waterfall, in the rain,
Mana Forbes blessed the stones we had taken to ourselves
After we climbed down steps to the waterfall
In the country of kings.
Note: After the World Indigenous Higher Education Consortium was founded in Canada, the next step was to begin writing a Constitution, which happened at Kahukura in New Zealand. This poem was written there.
Note: This starts a new series of poems, The Tribal College poems, that tell about the tribal college movement in the United States and the formation of the World Indigenous Nations Higher Education Consortium (WINHEC). In many ways these poems have historical importance, describing events from some of the most important higher education movements that happened in the latter part of the 20th century.
The Maori came singing in rows,
Language as musical as colors of Hawaiian flowers,
Swaying rhythms weaving through island heat,
Capturing in movement wave song of ocean.
The tribal college people came, led by a hand drum,
Feet moving to the drum’s rhythm,
Spirit inculcated into the history of this moment
Away from the tribal homeland,
In the islands of Hawaii.
The singing and drumming met
In a swirl of traditional dress
And words from scores of cultures.
The meeting created waves and tides
And a singing beyond the singing of any one people
Or group of people,
And the waves and tides swept outward
From rocky shores of Hilo, past the reef
Into the ocean of the world
As a growing began
That sent echoes rumbling
Into years and decades in the process of borning.
Hi Yah Hi!