Touch the Earth

fuzzytnth3's picture

Roy reads this out just before he sings "I Hate the White Man" or maybe after he's sung it not sure which I still have to nail down which album it is on. It is on a bootleg recording The Red Lion Folk Club Birmingham 1984 Show 2 but I was positive it was on an offical album as well but having rummaged around twice now I think my old brain cell is acting up.

Apparently the piece is from a book of native American verse called 'Touch the Earth'. As Roy says the piece below is by Alleek-chea-ahoosh who is also known as Chief Plenty Coups.

By the time I was forty I could see that our country was changing fast, and that these changes were causing us to live very differently. Anybody could now see that soon there would be no buffalo on the plains and everybody was wondering how we could live after they were gone. There were few war parties and almost no raids…..White men, with their spotted buffalo were on the plains about us. Their houses were near the water holes, and their villages on the rivers.

We made up our minds to be friendly with them, in spite of all the changes they were bringing. But we found this difficult, because the white men too often promised to do one thing and then when they acted at all, did another. They spoke very loudly when they said their laws were made for everybody; but we soon learned that although they expected us to keep them, they thought nothing of breaking them themselves. They told us not to drink whisky, yet they made it themselves and traded it to us for furs and robes until both were nearly gone. Their wise ones said we might have their religion, but when we tried to understand it we found that there were too many kinds of religion among white men for us to understand, and that scarcely any two white men agreed which was the right one to learn.

This bothered us a great deal until we saw that the white man did not take his religion any more seriously than he did his laws, and that he kept both of them just behind him, like helpers, to use when they might do him most good in his dealings with strangers. These were not our ways. We kept the laws we made and lived our religion. We have never been able to understand the white man, who fools nobody but himself.

Alleek-chea-ahoosh Crow Indian, 1848-1932

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Bob Jacobs's picture

Very moving

and totally consistent with the Indian memoirs I've been reading about Crazy Horse, Red Cloud and Chief Joseph.


fuzzytnth3's picture

So many books just not enough time...

Which particular memoirs is that?

At the moment I am (still) reading The Children of Hurin, Bang A Complete History of the Universe by Brian May (yes that Brian May), Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott plus at my biddy in's I'm reading another astronomy book by Patrick Moore but this I picked up in a charity shop and its from the 25th anniversary of the Sky at Night back in the 80s. It's been interesting comparing the two astronomy books as they are separated by 25 years and some of the things he talks about that were to happen in the near future in the earlier book have now happened, plus things that weren't known then are now understood a bit better now.

I have a pile of books that my daughters have given me to read as well so I'm a bit overwhelmed with books but without that much time to read them.

Hopefully I might manage to finish a couple this weekend as I am on my tod for once and just might manage to make way for another book to add to the list :)
Bob Jacobs's picture

American Indian Memoirs

The books I was referring to were as follows, also mentioned in my blogs of post-holiday reading:

Crazy Horse and Chief Red Cloud by Ed McGaa (Eagle Man), published by Four Directions Publishing, ISBN 0-9645173-3-7

The Journey of Crazy Horse by Joseph M Marshall III, published by the Penguin Group, ISBN 0 14 30.3621 1

Glencoe and the Indians by James Hunter, published by Mainstream Publishing, ISBN 1 84018 001 3

I've also read a fascinating book that I bought in Canada a few years ago: The Song and the Silence, Sitting Wind, The Life of Stoney Indian Chief, Frank Kaquitts, by Peter Jonkers, published by Lone Pine Publishing, ISBN 0-919433-54-5

If I were to recommend just one out of these 4, it would be the Glencoe book.