Navajo Lament: Truer Today?

Hastiin Tee Yazzie 1923

Amanda Warren
Activist Post

Old Hosteen Yazzie was a sage Native American who lived past 110 years old. He was the last Navajo to surrender to Kit Carson and U.S. soldiers in the 1860s around the time of “The Long Walk.” His poem was seen on a lot of post cards that are now mainly sold as cheap nostalgia if they are still prevalent. His words lament the confusion of what many call “White Man’s Ways,” but more specifically, big government’s ways and not only their treatment of Natives, but also for anyone trying to live sovereign under the whims of invasive government rule and a manipulated economy.

Even as early as the 19th and well into the 20th century, Hastiin Tee Yazzie or Hashke Yazhe as he was also called knew what was up. He could see the failings of a left-right paradigm, big bankers, and the devaluing of goods a century before many of us arose. His words should not be forgotten.

Wife he die,
I so sad.
My o’ hoss
Done gone bad. 
Buy ol’ Ford
No good too–
Ride and push
No can do. 
White man banker
No can trust.
Take it monies —
Bank go bust. 
Stock market hogs.
Run it country 
To the dogs. 
He big money man,
Big money man
No more money man
By damn —
I done vote
For Uncle Sam.
*It is suggested that the Navajo language did not have pronouns for females.

Hosteen means mister, sir or very respected elderly man
Tee (pronounced “Tsh E”) means little
Yazzie means tree
Old Mr. Little Tree (meant respectfully)

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