Iiyuuw Awaas

Iiyuw Awaas

April 4, 2004

Iiyuw Awaas, literally translated, means Native Child.

This poem I wrote to be read at the international banquet.

It was extremely well recieved, by both students and faculty.

I was inspired to write it by my friend Agaba Bisengo, who had shared her experience as a victim of genocide in Rwanda. Both her parents were killed.

The one thing she said struck me the most was that “Everyone had a story”

I feel I’ve held mine back far too long.

.:edit:. My dad (naskapi-linguist.deviantart.com) helped me with some spelling of some older ways of speaking. :) Thanks.

I am the son of a white man
But I am the child of the Naskapi
I am Iiyuuw Awaas; a Native Child
That is how they called me

By the elders, I was raised
They taught me many things
To hunt; to smell caribou
As they travel north
To watch their thundering hooves
As the stamped in 3000 head strong
I am Atiihkw Awaas, a Caribou Child
That is how they called me

By the great Forest, I was raised
To feel the weather change
And listen to the ice melt
Cachatooa!
Echoing across the lake
Telling of warm snaps
To watch the winds
As the Geese fly
To speak to them
*honk honk*
And beckon them to land
To hear the Loon
*whoooioioi*
And to answer its mournful cry
To speak with the great bear
And the lone wolf
As the chorus of the wind in the trees
Sang to me
I am Uskaahtikw Suuhchiuw, A Young Strong Tree
That is how they called me

By the heavens, I was raised
To watch the sun carefully
To know when it was going to set
And when to build a shelter
To watch the stars, the uchaakitaahkw
To let them lead me home
And share the dance of northern lights
I am Tipishkaaw Awaas, A Night Child
That is how they called me

By the children I was raised
They taught me to fight and be fought
They taught me not everyone loves everyone else
That colours and shades were enough to kill
That drugs and alcohol were death
That they saw no hope
That they hated me because they had seen people hate me on TV
They called me Michin Waamistikusuw Waas, The Ugly White Child
That is how they called me

By Chamindo, I was raised
He taught me to dream
He taught me the gift of clairvoyance
To see His friendship in your slumber
He taught me to see the beauty in all things
Even though they hurt me
And that love is stronger than hate or pain
He taught to interpret His gifts
To listen to him when he speaks
They called me Saachiihiiyiwaau Naapaaw, The Man who Loves
That is how they called me

To the United States I was brought
Moved down to where I was not home
Placed in a sea of Waamistikushuwch
They taught me that I was not one of them
They taught me to see that I fit better with minorities…
Than my own… No, than their own kind
They taught me there was much I had missed
While I was raised by the Naskapi
And I was glad
They called me Jansewits, for they could not speak
That is how they called me.

By International Students, I was raised
They welcomed me into their home
They gave me friendship and love
They did not condescend, but simply related
They showed me I wasn’t alone
Even among those who were not like me
They showed me I had been given gifts
They showed me people could use my help
They taught me new ways of speaking
And showed me my way was important too
They called me Young Savage, for they knew me
That is how they called me.

I am the son of a white man
But I am the child of the Naskapi
I am Iiyuuw Awaas; a Native Child
That is how I call myself.

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