Real Bird, Henry




Henry Real Bird, born and raised on the Crow Indian reservation in Montana, is a rancher, a poet, and a teacher at Northern Cheyenne Tribal School. The author of numerous poetry collections and children's books, Real Bird shares his poetry and love of the Crow language at schools throughout Montana. In "Thought," the speaker's grandfather compares thought to clouds, shadows and fog.  To be "among the clouds" of thought is to draw close to "he who first did everything." Unlike clouds and mountains, "the blessings of our mother earth," human beings are "born as someone new" and "have to be taught/The good from the bad." This poems raises themes related to education, heritage and tradition, and the relationship between human beings and the natural world.

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Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.


Heritage and TraditionNature and the EnvironmentTeaching and Learning

Big Questions

How have my past and heritage shaped me?What do we inherit from our ancestors?What can we learn from nature and the environment?


Henry Real Bird reads "Thought"

Sample Discussion Questions

  1. Why does the speaker's Grandfather Owns Painted Horse say that thought is "like a cloud"? What sort of experience is he describing in the lines about being "among the clouds"?
  2. What seems to be the speaker's attitude toward his grandfather?
  3. What is the relationship between the first part of the poem, in quotes, and the part beginning "We are but nomads"? Do you think the entire poem is spoken by the speaker's grandfather, or just the first part?
  4. Who is the "we" of "We are born as someone new"?
  5. What did the speaker learn from his grandfather?
  6. Who or what teaches us good from bad as we grow up?
  7. What does it mean to "use" what is good?
  8. What is good in your work or service? In what ways do you use it? What new or fuller uses might you be able to make of what is good?
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