Cigar Store Indian
by Jason Edward Murray

(A letter to the Academy from A Young Warrior)

To Whom It May Concern,

I refuse to be your Cigar Store Indian.
I will not paint my face
or braid my hair for you.
I will not play the stoic
or speak thru stunted inflections.
I will not brandish feathers,
nor will I dance or beat my drum for you.
I will not be a Cigar Store Indian.

I am proud of my red heritage.
--much too proud to be relegated to a porch
and made a mute advertisement,
only to sell your multi-cultural wares for a time
and then to be thrust upon the fire in the dark
of your white winter.

I am larger than any label you can place upon me.
I am more complex than any statistic you can quote to me.
I am an American Indian --whole because of my experiences--worthy because of my merit,
and I refuse to be your Cigar Store Indian.


Jason Edward Murray

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