Ndakinna “Our Land”

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Ndakinna (Our Land) by Joseph Bruchac

You cannot understand our land with maps

Lines drawn as if earth were an animals carcass

Cut into pieces, skinned, divided ,devoured

Though always less eaten than is thrown away

See this land instead with the wind eagles eyes

How the river and stream link like sinews

Through a leather garment sewn strong to hold our people

Patterns of flower close the brown soil

Do not try to know this land by roads

Hard lines ripped through old stones

Roads which still call for blood

Not just those who cross, wild eyes blinded

By twin suns startling

The night but also

Those who seek to follow the headlong flow atop

That dark frost

Unthawed by the sun

Those seasons and the insistent lift of the smallest seeds

Seek without ceasing

Space for the old soil

Instead let your feet caress this soil

In the way of the deer whose feet follow and form trails through the ways of

least resistance

Knowing ridges and springs, ways of wind through the seasons

The taste of green twig and tender grass

The sweet scent of rain urged up from moist earth

When you feel this land, when you taste this land, when you hold this land

As your lungs hold your breath

You will be the rattlesnake

Always embracing earth with her passage

You will be the salmon a chant whip through the ripple

You will be the deer mouse small feet

Stitching the night

You will be the bear thunder held in soft steps

When your song sees this land

When your ears sing this land

You will be this land

You will be this land

Assignment 2: Answer the following questions after listening to the poem.

  1. What is the poet saying with his opening line? You cannot understand our land with maps

  2. Describe the most colourful image you have in your mind after listening to this poem. Quote the lines that created this image in your head and explain how the language used worked to create this image. (Hint: think about what you learned about descriptive language in Unit 1.)
  1. At the end of the poem the poet repeats the statement, You will be the land. What is the author urging us to do? How did he use persuasive language?
  1. Did he use any of the persuasive elements previously discussed in this unit: Logos, Ethos, Pathos? Provide an example from the poem to support your argument.
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