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Yah-Win-Ma

deep inside the mountains and the valleys wide of Idaho
where tumbling fountains of the clear crystal waters flow
glitter in the sunlight shining, mirror in the moon
Yah-Win-Ma, Rapid River, giver of our boon

always to these rapids down the countless generations
came the great fisher people of the great Nee-Mee-Poo Nation
till they came to feel the waters like the blood within their veins
and the people and the river they were one and the same

oh Yah-Win-Ma, river of the salmon life

twisted ‘round with treaties, tied and tangled in the twine
the strangling was tightened with the passage of the time
and the shadow of the fear that came to haunt at every door
until it was they didn’t fish the river anymore

but some there were were younger with the courage of their years
to stand aground and challenge to the empty paper fears
remembering the memory of not so long ago
when Joseph of Walawa showed them all the way to go

oh Yah-Win-Ma, river of the salmon life

slowly spreads the fire when it smolders in the ground
slow and surely come the people to the drumming of the sound
as to the Rapid River only first a few arrived
then the few became the many and the river came alive

gathered by the hundred, women, children, young and old
to the teepee river fishing was a vision to behold
and though the air was joyful there was trouble in the wind
for the army of enforcement was slowly closing in

oh Yah-Win-Ma, river of the salmon life

trouble came that morning with no warning to relate
with rifles and with pistols on the order of the state
and the people rose to meet them just as quickly as they came
armed only with their tongues it was an uneven game

with a coward’s brutality three prisoners were claimed
taken from the people, handcuffed away in chains
and the rifles in reminder made a final sweeping pass
for the battle it was over now but it would not be the last

oh Yah-Win-Ma, river of the salmon life

around the sacred circle every heart was asked to speak
how brave had become the ones who used to be so meek
how long a road to travel on, how hard a way to stand
with the future of the unborn cradled in their hands

and in the silent aftermath the river sang its song
hopeful for the prisoners they not be taken long
thankful that nobody’s blood had stained its crystal flow
for a new days was dawning in the valleys wide of Idaho

oh Yah-Win-Ma, river of the salmon life

to the high windy heavens of the guardian wings
to the heart within the mountain where the salmon water springs
honor to the heroes whose vision is to see
that the people and the river must always be free

oh Yah-Win-Ma, river of the salmon life