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The Arrow Head

From The Washington Herald, November 13, 1912.
By Calvin Dill Wilson.
 

 They loved their land, broad set between the seas;
 They hunted, fought, and roamed in careless ease;
 In native joys the fearless years were spent—
 The red men owned and ruled a continent;
 And when we drove them back with hissing lead
 They left this lasting sign, the arrow head.
 
 By storm or glowing sky their souls were stirred;
 They knew and dearly prized each beast and bird;
 Their human hearts held love for maidens fair;
 The warrior gave his child a brave man’s care;
 Another race has come their land to tread;
 Of Indian braves there’s left the arrow head.
 
 The bark canoe the restless waters skimmed;
 The hunter watched his prey with eyes undimmed;
 He mastered nature for his simple need;
 He reared a daring race of strongest breed;
 And now into devouring night he’s fled,
 And left no sign but this, his arrow head.
 
 We might have spared to him his valiant pride,
 Or left him breathing space in land so wide;
 We something might have learned of him, the free—
 We owed him manhood, spirit, liberty;
 But, cruel, we o’er all his soil have spread;
 His only lasting sign’s the arrow head.
 
 The panther-footed, lithesome Indian brave
 We thought not worth our while to try to save.
 But welcomed hither hordes of king-crushed souls,
 The worn-out serfs who cringed to lords for doles;
 We gave an eagle race the grave as bed;
 Our fields yet hold his sign, the arrow head.
 
 He passes, cowed and scorned; we, careless, read
 Unmoved his tale. “A savage! Let him bleed
 And eat his heart and weep and swiftly go;
 Our strength’s our right. The tale is old.” E’en so!
 For him no tears, no honor! Ghosts have sped;
 His only lasting sign’s the arrow head.
 
 We pick the flaked flints from far and near;
 Museums hold them. “Weapons? Tools? How queer!”
 Yet, aimed with flashing eye and iron arm,
 Once flew that flint to keep his child from harm,
 Or oft it felled the deer that wife be fed;
 A heart’s own tale has every arrow head.
 
 All rich he was, most rich; we made him poor;
 His ways to him were good; his meat was sure;
 His tribe was all—we made him stand alone;
 We could have given bread, we gave a stone.
 We’re rich, but he has well-nigh vanished—
 And yet his sign abides, his arrow head.
 
 Look on that sign of his once mastery;
 Have pity now, before he die, all ye;
 Yet breathe upon the embers of his pride;
 Restore his manhood ere it quite has died;
 Be just; take thought, lest we be visited,
 And fate smite us as with his arrow head.
 
 Some day avenging fate may string its bow,
 And pluck the fields for flints, take aim, and so
 Send singing on the winds the feather reeds,
 Straight sighted, true, to smite us for our deeds—
 Through foes return the ill our lives have bred—
 And to our hearts send deep the arrow head.
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