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Native American Poems for Kids - Childrens Indian Poetry

Native American Poems

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Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - The White Man's FootThe White Man's Foot

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Children's Native American Poems
Indian Poetry and Recitals for Teachers

 
 

Home > Social Studies > Native American > Poems, Rhymes and Recitals > The White Man's Foot

Native American poetry for kids - Children's Indian Poems - The White Man's FootThe White Man's Foot

by Henry W. Longfellow

From his wanderings far to eastward,
From the regions of the morning,
From the shining land of Wabun,
Homeward now returned Iagoo,
The great traveler, the great boaster,
Full of new and strange adventures,
Marvels many and many wonders.

And the people of the village
Listened to him as he told them
Of his marvelous adventures;
Laughing answered him in this wise:
"Ugh, it is indeed Iagoo!
No one else beholds such wonders!"

He had seen, he said, a water
Bigger than the Big-Sea-Water,
Broader than the Gitche Gumee,
Bitter so that none could drink it!
At each other looked the warriors,
Looked the women at each other,
Smiled, and said, "it cannot be so!
Kaw!" they said, "it cannot be so!"
O'er it, said he, o'er this water

Came a great canoe with pinions,
A canoe with wings came flying,
Bigger than a grove of pine-trees,
Taller than the tallest tree-tops!
And the old men and the women
Looked and tittered at each other;
"Kaw!" they said, "we don't believe it!"

From its mouth, he said, to greet him,
Came Waywassimo, the lightning,
Came the thunder, Annemeekee!
And the warriors and the women
Laughed aloud at poor Iagoo;
"Kaw!" they said, "what tales you tell us!"

In it, said he, came a people,
In the great canoe with pinions
Came, he said, a hundred warriors;
Painted white were all their faces,
And with hair their chins were covered!
And the warriors and the women
Laughed and shouted in derision,
Like the ravens on the tree-tops,
Like the crows upon the hemlocks.
"Kaw!" they said, "what lies you tell us.
Do not think that we believe them!"

Only Hiawatha laughed not,
But he gravely spake and answered
To their jeering and their jesting:
"True is all Iagoo tells us;
I have seen it in a vision,

Seen the great canoe with pinions,
Seen the people with white faces,
Seen the coming of this bearded
People of the wooden vessel
From the regions of the morning,
From the shining land of Wabun.

Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
The Great Spirit, the Creator,
Sends them hither on his errand,
Sends them to us with his message.
Wheresoe'er they tread, beneath them
Swarms the stinging fly, the Ahmo,
Swarms the bee, the honey-maker;.
Wheresoe'er they tread, beneath them
Springs a flower unknown among us,
Springs the White-man's foot in blossom.

"Let us welcome, then, the strangers,
Hail them as our friends and brothers,
And the heart's right hand of friendship
Give them when they come to see us.
Gitche Manito, the Mighty,
Said this to me in my vision.

"I beheld, too, in that vision,
All the secrets of the future,
Of the distant days that shall be.
I beheld the westward marches
Of the unknown, crowded nations.
All the land was full of people,
Restless, struggling, toiling, striving,
Speaking many tongues, yet feeling
But one heart-beat in their bosoms.
In the woodlands rang their axes,
Smoked their towns in all the valleys,
Over all the lakes and rivers
Rushed their great canoes of thunder.

"Then a darker, drearier vision
Passed before me, vague and cloud-like.
I beheld our nations scattered,
All forgetful of my counsels,
Weakened, warring with each other;
Saw the remnants of our people
Sweeping westward, wild and woeful,
Like the cloud-rack of a tempest,
Like the withered leaves of autumn!"

NOTES AND QUESTIONS

Longfellow is the poet who has spoken most sincerely and sympathetically to the hearts of the common people and to children. His style is notable for its simplicity and grace. His Hiawatha is a national poem that records the picturesque traditions of the American Indian. Its charm and melody are the delight of all children, and in years to come, when the race which it describes has utterly disappeared, we shall value at even higher worth these stories of the romantic past of America and of the brave people who inhabited these mountains and plains before the white man came.

Discussion.

  1. Read lines that tell Iagoo's story of adventures.
  2. Where do you think he had seen these things?
  3. What was the "bitter" water Iagoo told about?
  4. What were the "lightning" and the "thunder" that came from the "canoe with pinions"?
  5. Why was his story laughed at as false by the Indians?
  6. How did Hiawatha know it was all true?
  7. How did Hiawatha say they should receive the White Man when he came?
  8. What secrets came to Hiawatha in the vision?
  9. What "darker vision" did he see?
  10. Has Hiawatha's vision come true?
  11. What do you think of Hiawatha's character?
  12. Which of all the stories in this poem do you like best?
  13. Give the reason for your answer.
  14. You no doubt enjoyed reading this poem; can you tell why?
  15. Read "A Forward Look," and tell why you think Longfellow was a real author.
  16. You will enjoy reading Eastman's Indian Legends Retold.
  17. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: tittered; hither; counsels.
  18. Pronounce: pinions; derision; vision; regions; vague; warring.

Phrases for Study

regions of the morning, distant days that shall be, shining land of Wabun, unknown, crowded nations, canoe with pinions, feeling but one heart-beat, painted white, sweeping westward, heart's right hand of friendship, cloud-rack of a tempest.

 

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