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Message-Id: <199504070220.VAA12478@info.tamu.edu>
Date: Thu, 6 Apr 1995 05:42:49 -0700
Reply-To: native-l@gnosys.svle.ma.us Sender: NATIVE-L Aboriginal Peoples: news & information
From: native-l@gnosys.svle.ma.us
Subject: nanews03.014 (part A)
To: Multiple recipients of list NATIVE-L <NATIVE-L@TAMVM1.TAMU.EDU>

Original Sender: gars@netcom.com (Gary Night Owl)
Mailing List: NATIVE-L (native-l@gnosys.svle.ma.us)

--------- RE: Poem: Passamaquoddy Girl ---------
Date: 07 Mar 95 12:54:28 EST
From: Christopher.A.Newell@DARTMOUTH.EDU (Christopher A. Newell)
Subj: Passamaquoddy Girl

Passamaquoddy Girl

By Mary Ellen Socobasin,
Passamaquoddy (1947-1988)
6 April 1995

I didn't write this, but I grew up knowing the woman who did pretty closely. Her death was a loss to our community and in her honor I post her words so that others may learn from her.

A proud Indian girl grows up on the reservation
Takes a walk to the white community
She knew nothing of them
She was greeted with laughter
She was treated unfairly
For she did nothing to them.
She was called a redskin
She looked upon herself saw only brown skin
She wonders what is wrong withthem.
She is called an Apache with a sneer.
She says, I am Passamaquoddy eyes full of tears.
She asks herself what have I done to them.
They make funny noises imitating her language.
She says to them I know two languages.
Doesn't that mean anything to you.
But to them, they only understood one language.
The language of hate.
She asks herself what have I done to them.
They don't know her. Still they condemn.
She committed no crime still they prosecute
Stones of injustice are thrown at her
Her heart starts to fill with bitterness.
She proclaims her hate for them.
Years of ignorance go by.
Then she realized what was happening.
She was getting to be just like them.
She says I am not one of them.
I will not condemn all of them.
For I am Passamaquoddy
A proud Indian woman.

--Mary Ellen Socobasin

I saw Rita Joe 2 summers ago at the Wabanaki Conference on the Restigouche Mi'kmaq Reserve in Quebec. Her words for young people were that she is getting old and her disease soon won't let her be able to write anymore, but for others to continue their education and continue to express yourself in poetry. I have no gift for the beauty of poetry, but hopefully through others I can express myself still. For those of you who don't know who Rita Joe is she's a Mi'kmaq poet who's published around 3-5 books. She's an elderly woman now, but she's wise even beyond her years and tells some great jokes. She knows the importance of learning, but she also knows that you must have fun doing it, maybe that's why she was one of the best teachers I've ever met. Torture and education should not be synonymous.

Mary Ellen taught me in grade school and she too was one of the best teachers I've ever known. This is just a small piece of her.