The following photo essay and accompanying poem were recently discovered in an accession of Indian Health Service records. The work appears to be attributed to Mr. Allan Cayous. The content and captions are all original to the author and the intended order of presentation has been preserved in this blog post to the best of my ability.
Allan Cayous was heavily involved in efforts to improve the plight of Native American populations throughout the United States. He actively and ambitiously advocated for change. In addition to a career in the Indian Health Service, Mr. Cayous served on several national task forces. In the mid-1970’s, Mr. Cayous became a Task Force Specialist serving on Task Force No. 6 on Indian Health. This task force was part of the American Indian Policy Review Commission and was concerned with “current health standards for the American Indian and Native Alaska, federal responsibility for Indian health and investigation of Indian Health Service, [and] alternative sources of health care, e.g., traditional medicine, national health insurance.” (Public Law 93-580, 1975). In the 1980’s, he served as a staff member on the Secretary’s Task Force on Black and Minority Health. This task force was “conceived in response to a national paradox of phenomenal scientific achievement and steady improvement in overall health status, while at the same time, persistent, significant health inequities […] for minority Americans.” (Report of the Secretary’s Task Force on Black & Minority Health, 1989).
Why this intimate composition was created and preserved is uncertain. No contextual information regarding the images and poem survive with the materials today. Any clues as to the dates, locations, and subjects of the photos and any hints as to the purpose of the work have long since been lost.
You have taken our land
You have changed our lives
destroying what was once our ways
You have taken our children
and forced them to live as you live
You have taken our young people
to fight in wars where many have died
far from home.
All this and more have happened to us
Yet when we receive help from the Indian Health Service
The Bureau of Indian Affairs
I see in your eyes
and hear in your voice
The belief that you are giving us
something for nothing
You government people should think about this
and then answer me one question
Who has given more than The Indian?
Resources consulted in the writing of this blog post include: