He pointed his long walking stick, notched, feathers aquiver:
“The Land we were promised by the Great Spirit!
This is the place” he told his wife, this river
Where a wall of ice said turn around or quit.
As if the end of the world.
His family, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters took flight
And walked North; many births, many deaths, many sighs.
He sang his song of hope, his chant of promise every night
As brother sun dropped to his left; to his right it would arise.
As if death is temporary.
This river, full of salmon, its valley herds of horses.
His heart burst with joy. Here they would take delight
Here would be laughing babies! But he knew the curses.
He could not enter it. He’s buried on the ridge, upright.
As if still walking.
The Ni-imí-ipu-u would tell the White Man 15,000 years later
About the village of Nipéhe and the ancestors, long gone,
Where the Salmon River once carried melting ice water,
Where people lived in peace and sang an ancient song.
As if hope echoed down from the canyon walls.