Native Lands

Adrian Neibauer

August 8, 2022


My home is built on Indigenous lands:
Arapaho, Cheyenne, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.
We lost more than I gained.
We grow what we can.
Plant a Japanese Lilac, Bald Cypress, Chokecherry,
Quaking Aspens, Alaskan Weeping Cypress
in dense clay. Trees begin to make suburbia,
begin to make a home.
Imaginative strength lies in reverence
to tribal nations holding the land that holds our home:
Arapaho, Cheyenne, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.

Merwin says that there is a link running through.
I grew up with a secret about land
without a connection to older cultures,
kept secret by American Whites.
My home is built on Indigenous lands:
Arapaho, Cheyenne, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.
I make that link again,
looking out my kitchen window,
reconstructing a past that has vanished.

There is no threshing in suburbia:
just choreographed mowing of identical adjacent lawns,
hypnotic leaf-blowers, weed-whackers.
You lose more than you gain
living away from those before us: land ancestors,
stewards of the seasons and soil.

My home is built on Indigenous lands:
Arapaho, Cheyenne, Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱, and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ.
All my thoughts and feelings have always been here,
peace and quiet.
What do they have to do with us? Nothing? Everything?

I look and listen and recapture the mystery
of those before us. I teach my children
that the past is unbroken, that there is continuity in the land.
I want them to memorize our lot,
visualize our backyard and remember
how to live close to the seasons.

Adrian Neibauer received his Master’s degree in instructional learning technologies and his Ph.D. in educational equity and leadership from the University of Colorado, Denver, and is currently an Elementary-school teacher in Aurora, Colorado, where he resides with his family. With almost two decades of teaching experience, Adrian strives to transform classrooms and create innovative, student centered educational programs that stretch beyond traditional approaches. He semi-regularly updates his professional website: adrian-neibauer.com. Recently he documented his year of teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic: https://mrneibauer.medium.com/. His poetry has been published online for Beautiful Losers Magazine, and in print for Convivium: Feast (Volume 3) and Black Fox Literary Magazine. Twitter: @UndiscoverPoem.