“If Irish or Italian culture dies in America it really isn’t that big a deal. They will still exist in Italy and Ireland. Not so with us. There is no other place. North America is our old country.” Janet Campbell Hale

Part Irish-Kutenai and a whole lot part Coeur d’Alene, Janet Campbell Hale was born 1947 in Riverside, California; she was raised and grew up on the Yakima reservation in Central Washington, and the Coeur d’Alene reservation in Northern Idaho. To escape a life of poverty, the verbal and physical abuse of an alcoholic father, Hale dropped out of school in the 8th grade and married at 18. Shortly after the birth of her son, Hale found herself escaping an abusive relationship that would end in divorce.

She returned to school. First, San Francisco City College, then U.C. Berkeley, and finally U.C. Davis where she received a master’s degree. She is the author of the novel The Owl’s Song (1974), Custer Lives in Humboldt County and Other Poems (1978), and The Jailing of Cecelia Capture (1985).

GETTING STARTED from “Voices of the Rainbow: Contemporary Poetry by Native Americans,” ed. By Kenneth Rosen

It isn’t that I’ve forgotten

Or don’t intend to do

With my life what I

Knew I should,

That is, transcend the petty concerns

And live

In truth

And in beauty

According to the

Higher aims of my existence.


I have trouble

getting started


And the day by day,

Hour by hour,


For a spell

to be broken,

And go on,

Life as usual,

minute by minute,

pulse beat


pulse beat,

paying bills,

doing the laundry,

going to work,

putting band-aids

on little scraped knees,

watching TV,

Swept along

  and along.