KEOW'S CRIMSON DAGGER
By
Pat Grantt

This poem is based on the true story of the Boston trader William Sturges and Kaiganee Chief Keow, from 1799.

From a tale of history written just before a century turned,

A crew of men intent on trading sealed a pact of good return.

Being those of daring nature, seeking balm for purse and pride

They agreed to stage a capture in return for fur and hide.

Many miles from home port justice, dealing with a Haida tribe,

Gory tales of scalp collecting marked their actions justified.

Arming well with lies and cunning they enticed three men on board.

Thus the Boston ship "Eliza" sailed into a treasure hoard.

Before delivering up the culprits, they procured another gain,

Ransom met with scalps once lifted won the freedom of one man.

Setting sail to rival tribesmen they then sealed the others' fate.

With a blow for pride and commerce two men's lives were put at stake.

On a day that dawned in beauty Spring supplied the only Grace,

In the form of crystal waters bouncing blue skies back in place.

Crimson daggers flashing sunlight mirrored back the final throes.

Marring scenes of tranquil Springtime, marking passage of two souls.

Cupping hands in life blood flowing, painting faces with the gore.

Voices raised in killing frenzy echo back forevermore.

When this history was recounted by two cultures in two ways,

One was voiced with ink and paper claiming justice for those days.

One was carved in cedar totem boasting of a tribal coup.

Both were seen as fitting comments to a time when dangers ruled.

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