'Giving a Shit,' an Idle No More Poem by Janet Rogers

Janet Marie Rogers
December 24, 2012

The objective of civilizing us
Is to make Indian history
Become our permanent reality
The necessary objective
Of Native people is to
Outlast this attack,
However long it takes
To keep our identity alive*

We’ll give them leather and feathers
Whatever gets the attention
We’ll give them drums and songs
We’ll give them stories
To see how long they’ll wait
for us to turn angry

We work with an unseen power
Less a weapon More a legacy
An answer to NO MORE What now
Simultaneous exhaustion
And exhilaration
Determination thick as
Mineral rich soil negotiations

Not a mob
We are a peaceful people
For now we are the timber
Standing in the way
Getting ready for the grave
How close to death
Do they want us to come
Close enough to smell
What it smells like
We have the answers
And we’re showing you
Can’t see it you have to
Feel it

Have you nothing to say

The women in their jingles
The fellas in their jackets
The elders in their blankets
And the children
Waving signs
“No More, No More, No More, No More”

Flags flowing like
Winter snow
Landing on strong shoulders
Withstanding Blizzards
I see my people
Many shades of the same
So proud
We are the responsible
Bravery in our veins
Fed by hunger
Writing love letters
Growing in momentum

We are revisiting wampum
We are witnessing commitment
That wasn’t legislated by war
Or defense budgets
This is the People’s love
For the mother
The movement has just begun

Bring it in
Send it out
Walk it around
Sing it loud
We keep beating
To keep the reality
Of the hate from playing
In our brains
We can take it
For we have good minds
And an army of ancestors
Walking with us

How can they counter that

Blissful ignorance
Sounds like holiday songs
on a Saturday morning
The same day she enters
Day 12 starving
For her people
Starving for attention
When the answers are
Within and right in front
Of us
Protect, react, resist,
Mobilize those to know
Motives working against
Natural law

So what can I do?

I’m going to fuck with your money
I’m going to
Talk to your children
Tell them the truth
And influence their reality
Is it true you
can love a country but not
its government
Is this possible?
When the law says
A country is formed by
A council and registered
Like a baby’s birth certificate
Within the courts the same
place that makes the laws,
so what came first?

Is the U.N. knocking at your door?
Or the ghosts of those
who circled your abode?
Are you finished dreaming of bacon
Are you begging for protection?
Shaking under your blanket hiding
From your own ancestors saying
“don’t shame us”

crossing the line – getting close
closing the gap – moving in
finding the light – standing in it
making the sounds – painting in colour
getting it right – taking names
planning for the future – re-claim

releasing the medicine – pounding the drums
staying connected_ stepping forward
rooted in humanity – giving a shit
reproducing history – recognizing equals
slam dancing  - gathering
letting the answers find us

saying your piece – providing
helping the cause – craving
stealing home – forcing the point
attending to details – walking together
shooting craps – taking it with you


--J.M. Rogers 2012

*The first stanza of this poem is a recent quote by John Trudell

Janet Marie Rogers, Mohawk writer from the Six Nations territory in southern Ontario, is Poet Laureate of Victoria, British Columbia. To learn more about her, visit janetmarierogers.com.

Visit soundcloud.com/janet-marie-rogers/giving-a-shit to hear this poem read by the author.



Submitted by Anonymous on

With all the ammunition you have this is what you come up with? My daughter summed it up best by saying that it sounded like a teenage girls poem, the only thing you missed adding was, " I am alone, I am utterly alone" (Beetlejuice quote)

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