Protocol - (the song version)
c Joy Harjo (published in a different from in A Map to the Next World, W.W. Norton)
Open with chant
I do not know your language though I hear the breaking of waves through the years.
It is blue and if I am to follow protocol I will introduce myself
and in that you might know that I did not find myself
here on your island by some coincidence.
When we emerged from that misty original place
we were led by four young winds, and a star who took the form
of talking fire. After we set up camp some of us went to look for water.
I found it years later, near the scarlet volcano just as it was predicted,
when companies of white men have fooled themselves and the sleeping
ones into thinking they’ve bought the world.
My family still has the iron cooking pot that was traded to us
when treaties were forced with blood. Those who signed were killed.
Now I have a gas range and there is no end to the war.
When I arrive from the sky after traveling through clouds,
and the afterburn of jets I will consider the gift
of those who kept walking though their feet were bloodied
with cold and distance, as their houses and beloved lands
were burned behind them.
I will consider the tyranny
of false rulers and how though they appear to dominate
your island they are small and brittle and will break.
When we meet in the beginning place, you honor me with pikake and maile
and a chant that allows me to paddle with you into the waters
so I will not be known as a stranger.
I offer you coral and tobacco and a song that will make us vulnerable
to the shimmer of the heart. It allows us to walk the roots
with our peoples through any adversity to sunrise.
Chorus: (translate to Hawaiian)
This is how I know myself.
This is how I know who you are.