If tears become letters and days turn to pages,
then how would you read his 30 days HARD labor
for fishing
on a lake
in size, depth, clarity and stock?

30 pages: no novel, just a long chapter.
What filled his kids’ bellies? Not fish that their dad caught
by fishing
on a lake
while he worked HARD in the chains.

30 eagles swoop down and catch fish with talons.
Carry them to high nests and fill eaglets’ bellies
through fishing
on a lake
Bites HARD: Birds eat while children starve.

Dedicated to the memory of John Blackbird, an Ojibwe arrested in 1901 for fishing with nets in Bear Trap Creek deep inside reservation lands that border Lake Superior, though some state histories record that he was arrested fishing on the lake. Either way, he was within his rights established through treaties with the U.S. Government.

He served 30 days HARD labor after refusing to pay a $36.75 fine. His case was eventually heard in U.S. Federal Court, the first challenge to a long battle in Wisconsin over the recognition of Indian Nation hunting and fishing rights established through treaty with the Federal Government. The Federal Court overturned the state decision in Blackbird’s favor in a ruling that honored negotiated rights with the Ojibwe Nation. The battle for the recognition of Native American treaty rights and the protection of their lands and resources continues to be fought across America today, eating up precious dollars that would be better utilized to improve the lives of these people in some of the poorest places in this country. Bites HARD.

Words and Photography ©2016 Tanya Cliff ~ to contact me

Posted in poetry, noDAPL & human rights. Bookmark the permalink.


For background on the Dakota pipeline controversy, read: my post from 09/09/2016

Update: Late Friday afternoon, a Federal Court judge ruled against the Dakota tribes, allowing the bulldozing to continue. The Obama Administration quickly stepped in, blocking construction on the portions of the pipeline that cross federal lands, at least temporarily protecting the Missouri River where it enters the Standing Rock Reservation and ancient Sioux burial grounds in the area.


Bites HARD:



45 thoughts on “HARD

    1. Thank you, Dave! I carry this one close to my heart. I’ve walked along the shores of that vast lake. The idea that a man could be arrested for fishing in it is ludicrous. But it isn’t really about fishing, is it?

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Roger! I have walked along the shores of that lake many times and waded into its cold waters. Certainly there are enough fish in that lake to feed millions of fishermen. As I commented to Dave Kingsbury, it isn’t really about fishing, is it? Glad you liked it!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Hi Tanya…it’s Steve from “True Light.” I started a new blog and hope to put a new twist on some things. Just wanted you along for the journey. It’s HARD starting all over again!

    Liked by 1 person

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