Bone Dance: New and Selected Poems, 1965-1993 Paperback – Nov 12 2002
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"Too city-stupid to know any better, I am left with the paper and pen for my magic," Rose, a Hopi, writes as she realizes, at 45, that the old Native American teachings and ceremonial ways are strong. Her poems trace her evolving linkage not only to Native American issues but to related concerns on a global level. She explores her "half breedness" not as a condition of genetics, ancestry, or race but as a condition of history, a result of cross-cultural experience, of dislocations, reunions, and choices. She sees "no more important movement than that of indigenous peoples and their supporters around the earth" and accordingly laments the $3,000 sale of 19 American Indian skeletons to a museum and howls in horror at skulls and bones excavated from a mission's adobe walls: "They built the missions with dead Indians." Brutally powerful in all ways political and personal. Whitney Scott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Many of the poems in Bone Dance deal with the objectification of indigenous bodies, often including a white concern for profit over the value of human lives and their bodies. One example is “I Expected my Skin and my Blood to Ripen” which includes a description of an art catalog from 1977—the catalog proudly discusses that Indians killed in the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre were stripped of their clothes and dumped into open graves naked so that their personal belongings could be kept as pieces of “art” by the white individuals that looted the bodies. These items were then put in the catalog in 1977 for sale. Rose discusses the “rape” that has occurred in this situation, describing how the bodies were treated and then “shriveled” in the winter elements (19). The poem “Truganinny” is even more horrific, and is inspired by the account of the last Tasmanian, Truganinny [also seen as Truganini], who had to watch as her husband was stuffed, mounted, and put on display. She begged for this not to happen to her when she died, but of course, she was also stuffed, mounted, and put on display [her body was cremated and scattered in April 1976]. Rose writes that Triganinny had pleaded, “Put me where / they will not / find me” (55).
The poem “Plutonium Vespers” has a wonderful example of historical trauma and how it can manifest itself within poetry:
take this offering
of flesh, this color
and this color, take
all the memories,
take the pain,
take it and shake it
everywhere shake it
all of us shaking
I am shaking (104)
Other themes include place, ceremony, language, gender, identity, urban Indian experiences, racism, and nature.