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Sign Language.

Sign Language

David S. Pointer

Indian Heritage Council

P.O. Box 2302, Morrisstown TN 37816

ISBN 1884710352 $10.00

Sign Language is a work commissioned by the Indian Heritage Council in Morristown TN. Proceeds from the books they sell are used to benefit causes of importance to the Heritage Council and the indigenous tribes they serve. Pointer's book of poetry, for example, is dedicated to Native American Veterans of war.

Appropriately, topics addressed in Pointer's poetry have concerned Native American people since Europeans first stepped foot on Turtle Island--America. The voracious squandering of natural resources is one example, in an excerpt from "Life Cycle":

... they keep slicing and serving resources as if catering for infinity.

And in "Grass Wars", Comanche and Kiowa watch helplessly as their grasslands are transformed:

... for the mass make over

of the buffalo into cow.

With a wisdom that goes beyond book learning, native tribesmen understand the difference between white Europeans and the black men imported to serve, simply and beautifully stated in "Tanka":

Native marksman aims bathing Buffalo Soldier has white-welt whip scars he lowers rifle shotless rides for the next winter lake

One short, untitled piece makes plain the rewards reaped by indigenous people who welcomed Europeans to their lands:

The Dead Indian Epigram: For many of our ancestors openmindedness often meant a head shot.

And in "Historical Context of 1492 (For the Average American), Pointer likens Native acceptance of white invaders to Jesus' dealings with Herod and his ilk. Throughout time, the result never varies--power and greed win out--and the metaphor is stunning:

... Extending a scarred hand that had already been through Herod's Hellspark, a hand that would be cut off for not bringing a quick quota of gold for Columbus' backers, a lopped foot suitable for fertilizing new and old world crops. A body that would feel boiling soap several centuries before the Fuhrer's factories were operational.

With free verse and Haiku, Pointer weaves the history of Native tribes. The untitled Haiku are equal to free verse in effect:

As Jesse and Frank experience vast green growth Custer's account closes

And this Haiku says much in few words:

Drab concrete rainbow defaces land that sparkled The Saint Louis Arch

Many of Pointer's ironies are heart breaking, such as advising hunters faced with scarcity of game to retrain "retrievers to point aluminum cans." And the harrowing truth in "Indian Life Today: A Politician Explains the Issues", sadly, will be missed by most Americans today--tribes relocated far from their homeground so whites can possess rich land--Mandans in Missouri; Cherokees in Rhode Island; Kansa in California; Iroquois in Alaska; Comanche in Wisconsin. And if such numbing thoughts were not enough to contemplate, in "Love Quest", Pointer speaks Earth's sorrow at what this country has become:

... Who knows better than Mangus Coloradus that America isn't in Kansas anymore or what the going price of eternal peace could really be? If we can't lift and love Mother Earth's exposed entrails;

what else is possible?

Injustice on an international scale is common fodder in the news these days. David Pointer narrows that focus and brings it back to our own doorsteps, where this insatiable hunger for land and resources began in the Indian Nations and now encompasses the world. This book is highly recommended.
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Publication:MBR Bookwatch
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Apr 1, 2005
Words:546
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