“The Indian Corn Planter” (1912) by E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

This poem begins with a significant shift in lifestyle, from trapping and hunting to planting. While reading the poem, consider how this shift reflects not only the change in seasons but also the imposition of colonial power through settlements and treaties that limited land use.

“The Indian Corn Planter” by E. Pauline Johnson (Tekahionwake)

He needs must leave the trapping and the chase,
For mating game his arrows ne’er despoil,
And from the hunter’s heaven turn his face,
To wring some promise from the dormant soil.
He needs must leave the lodge that wintered him,
The enervating fires, the blanket bed—
The women’s dulcet voices, for the grim
Realities of labouring for bread.
So goes he forth beneath the planter’s moon
With sack of seed that pledges large increase,
His simple pagan faith knows night and noon,
Heat, cold, seedtime and harvest shall not cease.
And yielding to his needs, this honest sod,
Brown as the hand that tills it, moist with rain,
Teeming with ripe fulfilment, true as God,
With fostering richness, mothers every grain.

Note: This poem was originally published in Flint and Feather (Toronto: Musson, 1912).


  1. How is paganism represented in the poem? What role does paganism play in the man’s life? How do these pagan perspectives inform your understanding of the man?
  2. What might this poem be saying about the dualism between hunter-gatherer and farmer-settler societies?