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Clade Song 7


Fuck Santa.
You tell me the worst thing that ever happened to me
was finding out I’m indigenous.
But fuck Santa.
The reindeer were the heart of our religious symbolism

up until the time they turned us into witches.
And with Christianity everything’s a witch
if it isn’t part of the military-industrial complexity.
“Rudolph the Red-nose Reindeer is some racist shit,” Nils said
and you tell me that Nils overreacts to everything,

but there’s less than 100,000 of us in the world
and you say that no one cares about the indigenous
and I can’t understand why I’m dating you
and then we have sex
and I suddenly understand why,

but, seriously, when we walk into that Target,
you know the one, where you walk in and instantly
you feel like you’re in Big Brother central
with cameras pointing in your face
and the metastasis of security

and the goddamn name of the place is ‘Target,’
if that isn’t the creepiest thing in the world
and then all the Xmas decorations
are all of these symbols and icons
of other religions

that everyone pretends are Christian,
but it’s pure paganism
and Judaism
and shamanism
and all these other –isms

that Christians don’t know shit about
and I’m supposed to look at this plastic reindeer
and think how cute it is
when all I can think of is the genocide of my people.
We drive home in silence.

I keep going through words in my head,
words like
and Kwa
and Bantu

and Munda
and Digaro
and Vedda
and Lak
and Zan

and Silesians
and Ni-Vanuatu
and Karelian
and Saami
and I keep thinking

What did it take to make a people unknown?
And I keep thinking
The second I get home I’m going to write about who I am.
And we get home
and I type the word “Reindeer” at the top of the page.


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Ron Riekki's books include U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book from the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/Grand Prize shortlist, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).