poetry, Seasons

Happy Thanksgiving

For me, this is a tough poem to read. For me, this is a holiday full of mixed emotions. Check out this version of Thanksgiving and this site in general.  I downloaded their 50 Must-See Modern Native American Movies and Performances and realized how much work I haven’t seen. The list is pretty impressive!

Source: Denver Public Library Digital Collection ‘Thomas White Face, Ogalalla Sioux’ by Heyn Photo


by Jonathan Garfield

Thank you for relocating relations, relocating their hearts, some forgetting or ashamed of their Indigenous roots.

Thank you for alcohol that now courses like blood through reservation veins.

Thank you for teaching our young, impressionable, heavily reserved minds your history and overlooking ours in reservation schools.

Thank you for Catholic boarding school surgeons painfully removing our Native tongue without anesthetic until our mouths bled English.

Thank you for that old white man in the white-owned store on my rez that showed my 8-year-old eyes the color of my skin as he stalked me like prey aisle-to-aisle, always a thief in his adult eyes.

Thank you for the bruises that covered my sister like war paint, painted by fists, baseball bat and a love created and mixed by your reservations, in wars she never won, dying every time.

Thank you for the U.S.D.A. approved diabetes that has stolen uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, fathers, my mother.

Thank you for BIA and its IHS replacing our ceremonial medicine with prescribed addictions that have now stolen so many visions on the rez that it’s hard to see what comes next.

Thank you for compulsory sterilization creating and rewriting so many stories forever left broken and unfinished.

Thank you for the children starving reservations wide, left alone and staying up late, hoping their parent or parents didn’t drink or shoot up all the check.

Thank you for the alcohol-related car wrecks that have turned epic poems into tragic short stories.

Thank for the tiny white crosses plunged deep like hot knives into our land and the reservation roadsides that always claim another victim from families dying a little inside every time they drive past them.

Thank you for the F.A.S. and F.A.E. babies turned high school dropouts because the Caucasian teacher from a different world was never taught enough before coming to the rez to teach.

Thank you for the reservation suicides that have killed the spirits of those left behind.

Thank you for using us as mascots, making our young ones feel uncertain in their skin and redefining honor for them by turning us into a cold, unfeeling, symbol for a sports team where drunken fans honor us by mocking us.

Thank you for leading us on to reservations with no guidebooks on how to live in your world on our land, where we are still stumbling and learning, trial by heartbreaking error, to this day.

Thank you for your stereotypical portrayal of us in film and the movies where the white men are the heroes saving the Indians despite the Native-like titles like Dances With Wolves, Thunderheart.

Thank you for stealing our land, raping it like some woman you never knew the name of, leaving her crying, traumatized, bleeding.

* * *

Thank you for razing our homeland, cutting it up into states, poorly piecing it together and shrouding us in it like a quilt infested with smallpox.

I am thankful for all of this for making me feel too fucking much.

I am thankful for all of this turning me into a clenched fist in times when words don’t hit hard enough.

I am thankful for all of this, for stirring the spirits of warriors dormant in us for centuries.

I am thankful for all of this because, without it, I could never write this.

Thank you for the artillery, arrows for my bow.

Born a few centuries too late and raised on U.S.D.A. approved commodity everything, Jonathan Garfield is an enrolled Assiniboine tribal member of the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux reservation in Montana. His stories document the tragedy forced on “his people” (which he loves saying ‘cause it sounds cool) that is the rez. Jonathan has been published in various Art & Literature magazines and quarterlies. His short story, “Reservation Warparties”, became a short film, adapted to a screenplay and directed by Angelique Midthunnder. The short film was featured on the program, Independent Lens, on PBS. Jonathan Garfield continues to write poetry and short stories. He is also a practicing trickster.
Endurance, Seasons

Rocky IV training in the mountains of Montana

The snow at our house is starting to feel like sand at the beach. It’s just a part of the terrain. You have to lift your knees a little higher when you walk and when you run, it feels like you’re starring in a slow-motion movie. It inspires me to train like Sylvester Stallone on a Russian countryside farm in Rocky IV. And…we’re only halfway through November. Bring on the snow, Montana. Let’s do this.


Perspective, Quote of the Day

Abundance is


Abundance is, in large part, an attitude.

– Sue Patton Thoele

Nature, Quote of the Day

“Choose only one master – Nature”

cartoon dogs trailhead

Once upon a time…

a woman and her family moved to the mountains of Montana before she succumbed to the ratrace of Portland. She could see mountain peaks from every window of her house and was just minutes from a trailhead. Stepping outside and breathing in the bitterly cold air, she felt her soul burst forth from the grimy shell inside which it had been slowly choking. Eyes lifted to the glorious sun and arms outstretched to the majestic winds, she felt the Great Spirit Mother wash over her as if she stood under a waterfall.

She was now utterly convinced that Rembrandt had it right:
“Choose only one master – Nature”


Quote of the Day, Uncategorized

live the present moment wisely & earnestly

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 9.38.49 PM

“The secret to health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
– Buddha

It’s snowing again in Basin, Montana. ☃️

Nature, Perspective, Quote of the Day

August 13, 2013

“Do not try to make the road shorter, but travel it in such a way that every action leaves the land more fertile and the landscape more beautiful.”

 – Paulo Coelho’s Manuscript Found in Accra

20130715_145052The beautiful view from Highway 12 along the Lochsa River connecting Idaho to Montana

Endurance, Perspective, Quote of the Day, Tolerance

December 30, 2012

Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring: all of which have the potential to turn a life around. ~ Leo F. Buscaglia


Bozeman, Montana

Nature, Perspective, Quote of the Day

December 29, 2012

The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows. ~ Sydney J. Harris


Big Sky, Montana