By Victor A. Charlo
and edited by Roger Dunsmore.
“I cut to the quick,” says Vic Charlo a Montana Salish poet. “I try to conjure up the old sayings, those words I grew up with and that come out every now and again. . . . I mostly write about things that are Native because that’s what grounds me, things I understand.” Like so many other Native American writers, Vic Charlo also examines the persistence of Native traditions and the deep-seated necessity in the heart of Native people to honor and continue the old ways of the tribe.
He laments the consequences of his acculturation into the non-Native world. He’s earned a university degree, but he’s lost touch with his own native traditions. “Why did I learn to write? Why did I want to?” he asks. “Was it worth the loss of your world going away?” Similarly, in the poem “Cycles,” Charlo says, “What comes to mind when I think about the future is going home to old ways. Some think of the old ways as going back. I don’t.” Our lives, says Charlo, are not linear; they are cyclical.
Put Sey (Good Enough) is, thanks to Vic Charlo and his daughter April, the continuing thread in the story of Native American cultural survival.