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"Indian Brother"

From the Marias River to the North Pole: A Montana History in Story Poems, by Bonnie Buckley Maldonado

April 1945

He came to us wrapped in Mother's blue sweater,
his crippled sister, Mary Jane,
murdered by a drunk.
Three days old, Clarence was his name.
"A sissy name," said Mama. "His name is Joey."

She made him a red bunting with white fur.
His hair, shiny black, stood straight
as beaver points on a Hudson Bay blanket.

His serious, brown self seemed lost
in the fancy wicker cradle that could never
be a cradleboard.

In summer, I will carry him to the hillside
to learn about gay feathers, shooting stars,
and prairie roses. I will teach him nursery rhymes.

With no words of Blackfeet,
I wonder how Joey will speak to Three Calves,
his grandfather, a medicine man?
Who will teach him to dance in a powwow,
to eat berry soup, to know Bird Rattler ways?


Bonnie Buckley Maldonado was born into the ranching lives of pioneer grandparents and Irish storytellers in Northern Montana. Cultural and ethnic diversity have influenced her lif,e from Blackfeet playmates, Guamanian neighbors and students, to connections with New Mexico Hispanics. Her marriage to Librado Maldonado brought her into the circle of an old Indo-Hispano family.

Her life has been one long poem, which she recorded on scraps of paper until her retirement at age sixty-nine, when she finally had time to create manuscripts. "Indian Brother" was published in her collection titled, From he Marias River to the North Pole: A Montana History in Story Poems.

Bonnie Buckley Maldonado
Bonnie Buckley Maldonado

In April, 2012, Bonnie Buckley Maldonado was selected as the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Silver City/Grant County New Mexico.

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Chérie Newman is a former arts and humanities producer and on-air host for Montana Public Radio, and a freelance writer. She founded and previously hosted a weekly literary program, The Write Question, which continues to air on several public radio stations; it is also available online at and
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