9 April 2013

prairie polygamy

Right now I'm reading Jenna Butler's seldom seen road. This is her third full-length collection, although I don't seem to have her second in my library just yet. I did chat with her two years ago about her poem "Inter-tribal" from her first collection.

Butler writes of the Prairie and she does it so beautifully. By beautiful, I don't mean in the sweeping-cinematographic-romantic way, but she uses language with such mastery and precision that I can't think of a better word than beauty, though I'm sure Butler would as she's so meticulous with her words. When I read "Wild Onions" I had to put the book aside and then reread it a few times because of this:

bulbs unearthed like molars
crepuscular canyon light


Later, in the section Lepidopterists, she writes of Crowfoot's wives. This, of course, piqued my interest. I had read somewhere that some of the Prairie First Nations people practiced polygamy, but I knew very little about it. From what I remember from the book, it was almost a throwaway line, with not enough detail to appease someone like me. After reading that section, I turned to google, as one does. According to the internet, Crowfoot had up to ten wives, though only three or four at a time. Unsurprisingly, there was not much information about his wives, with the most detail here. I'm not up to it (it really is time for me to leave writing about polygamy behind), but I hope someone out there does write their stories, real or imagined. I'm also curious to whether or not contemporary Blackfoot people consider polygamy as part of their culture, and if so, is reclaiming it part of the discussion. Oh, Alberta, your history is so full of polygamy.

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