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The Talking Leaves (Cash Johnny)

Sequoia's winters were sixteen silent tongue spirit clean He walked at his father's side Across the smoking battle ground where red and white men lay all around So many here had died The wind had scattered around snow white leaves upon the ground Not leaves like leaves from trees Sequoia said what can this be what's the strange thing here I see From where come leaves like these Sequoia turned to his father's eyes and he said father you're wise From where come such snow white leaves With such strange marks upon these squares Not even the wise owl could put them there So strange these snow white leaves His father shielding his concern resenting the knowledge Sequoia yearned Crumbled the snow white leaves He said when I explain then it's done these are talking leaves my son The white men's talking leaves The white man takes a berry of black and red And an eagle's feather from the eagle's bed And he makes bird track marks And the marks on the leaves they say carry messages to his brother far away And his brother knows what's in his heart They see these marks and they understand the truth in the heart of the far off man The enemies can't hear them Said Sequoia's father son they weave bad medicine on these talking leaves Leave such things to them Then Sequoia walking lightly followed his father quietly but so amazed was he If the white man talks on leaves why not the Cherokee Vanished from his father's face Sequoia went from place to place But he could not forget Year after year he worked on and on till finally he cut into stone The Cherokee alphabet Sequoia's hair by now was white his eyes began to lose their light But he taught all who would believe That the Indian's thoughts could be written down Just as the white men's there on the ground and he left us these talking leaves