The first gift of creation is the turtle shell we tread upon.
Go Down Odawa Way is a poetry collection that explores the physical, historical, and cultural spaces that make up the traditional territory of the Three Fires Confederacy. This is the region currently inhabited by southwestern Ontario and southeastern Michigan. Individual poems and sections of this collection explore the documented villages, history, and mythologies of the Odawa, Ojibway, Huron/Wendat, and Pottawatomi nations that were lost to the process of colonization and relocation. The project speaks to the history of the region that predates contemporary Canadian and American borders and namings as well as carves out a history that extends back past the mere couple of centuries of European colonization. The narrative focal point of the pieces find their roots in the traditional Lenape vantage point of the author and seeks to draw on the experiences of a modern day urban Indian in connection with the manner that land has changed with non-Indigenous settlement and those that inhabit it.
In these poems are sharp juxtapositions between nature and the urban and suburban landscapes of the towns and villages that the poet describes. The modern-day experiences of Indigenous people are evoked in a way that underlines the often devastating changes wrought by non-Indigenous settlement. Readers are made deeply aware of the effects of settler-culture industry, often symbolized in the roads and freeways that inevitably scar the land.
Go Down Odawa Way utilizes many terms taken from Lenape, the Southern Unami dialect, and Anishinaabemowin. A glossary is included.
“The culmination of language is song, and D.A. Lockhart’s Go Down Odawa Way is a song in which the vocabulary of memory obeys the syntax of sky, soil and flowing water. Its melody is the clear-spirited music of the Detroit River before the effluent, its rhythm is the 4/4 heartbeat of basketballs on hardwood, and its refrain drowns out with lyric force the 24-hour sonic barrage of auto plants. It’s a song which empresents history, a song with as many verses as there are members of a nation.”
—Richard-Yves Sitoski, Owen Sound Poet Laureate for 2019-2022 and author of No Sleep ‘til Eden