On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City

Sherman Alexie

The white woman across the aisle from me says 'Look, 

look at all the history, that house

on the hill there is over two hundred years old, '

as she points out the window past me


into what she has been taught. I have learned

little more about American history during my few days

back East than what I expected and far less

of what we should all know of the tribal stories


whose architecture is 15,000 years older

than the corners of the house that sits

museumed on the hill. 'Walden Pond, '

the woman on the train asks, 'Did you see Walden Pond? '


and I don't have a cruel enough heart to break

her own by telling her there are five Walden Ponds

on my little reservation out West

and at least a hundred more surrounding Spokane, 


the city I pretended to call my home. 'Listen, '

I could have told her. 'I don't give a shit

about Walden. I know the Indians were living stories

around that pond before Walden's grandparents were born


and before his grandparents' grandparents were born.

I'm tired of hearing about Don-fucking-Henley saving it, too, 

because that's redundant. If Don Henley's brothers and sisters

and mothers and father hadn't come here in the first place


then nothing would need to be saved.'

But I didn't say a word to the woman about Walden

Pond because she smiled so much and seemed delighted

that I thought to bring her an orange juice


back from the food car. I respect elders

of every color. All I really did was eat

my tasteless sandwich, drink my Diet Pepsi

and nod my head whenever the woman pointed out


another little piece of her country's history

while I, as all Indians have done

since this war began, made plans

for what I would do and say the next time


somebody from the enemy thought I was one of their own.

Main Location:

Boston, MA, USA

Other locations:

Attribution: Larry D. Moore