Jenny L. Davis is a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation and originally from Oklahoma. She is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign where she lives with her partner and spends most of her time tending her cats (and cat-sized Chihuahua), plants, and the students in her American Indian Studies and Anthropology classes. Both her research and activism center contemporary indigenous identity, indigenous language revitalization, and the Two-Spirit community.
OFI’ TOHBI’ IHINA’
I didn’t carry my ancestors’ bones with me
to this Midwestern place.
I could not hear their voices.
I asked Rabbit to carry a note to them
but he baked it into cookies
and ate them with rosehip tea.
I asked Woodpecker to pound a song for them in cedar,
but the songs
could not cross the Mississippi.
I scratched a song in four lines for our ancestors
I wove a lullaby of yarn for our descendants, and
I stomped for all of us moving counter-clockwise in between.
Finally in the still of night
Cicada buzzed answers
in a tree beside my ear
“We left our bones
because we do not need them
to dance along the white dog's way.
You do not need them
to dance along