WESTERN COUNTRY TALK AND DOINGS HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR WINTER/SPRING/SUMMER 2004 POSTS
Flicks and Floods in East Idaho [Fahrenheit
9-11] HUNTER BEAR 7/3/04
[Broadly posted on seventeen lists.]
Yesterday evening, Josie [our youngest] and Cameron journeyed up
to Idaho Falls -- 50 miles or so, where Teton Basin country begins --
to see Fahrenheit 9-11. Idaho Falls, incidentally the site of one of the
reaching-toward-sixty impressive Mormon Temples found in the world
as a whole -- very special buildings -- is one of only two towns in the
Gem State where the movie is presently [I say presently] available.
The other two locales are in the capital city of Boise.
On the last day of this last June, I had made this post on a relaxed
and eminently pleasant little List with which I'm deeply affiliated:
"Today's paper [morning], the Idaho State Journal, carried the banner
headline that "Controversial film skips Pocatello." Poky ain't all that
unusual since Fahrenheit 9/11 is skipping the Gem State almost in total at
this point: only two film houses in Boise and one in Idaho Falls are
presently showing it. As the paper put it, "the controversial film may be
too hot for Idaho as a whole." However, this could change damn fast as soon
as box office receipt news from Boise and Idaho Falls starts spreading to
Sand Point in the far northwest and to Lava Hot Springs south of here.
These may be hard political times but this is not a Salt of the Earth
situation in the mid and late '50s [and beyond.]" [Hunter Bear]
Idaho Falls and Pocatello are the major towns in heavily LDS Eastern
Idaho and both are traditionally strong union labor citadels. Why one
features the film and not the other may swing simply on the character of
film house ownership. Very reliable reports to us here at Poky indicate
that LOTS of folks -- and very much younger people -- are angered and
upset by the present unavailability of the movie in this town.
In any event, our two travelers returned with an all around enthusiastic
report: full house in the big theatre and, at the end, most of the audience
standing and clapping. I think people will be standing and clapping in
Pocatello before too long at all. Money has been money in Idaho ever since
John Hays Hammond et al launched the huge Bunker Hill mine in the Coeur d'
Alenes which started about 1881 and ran its sanguinary course for almost
a century. [My maternal grandfather was employed there and in its subsidiary
towns as a well trained mining engineer starting more than a hundred years
Eldri and I hope to see Fahrenheit 9-11 before long.
It probably won't join my super-favorite flicks [e.g., Shane, Salt of the
Earth, the old Inherit the Wind, Reds -- and, much more recently, the
pervasively and deep deep chilling Conspiracy [Holocaust planning] -- but
it's obviously a major and -- by the lights of most of us -- Good Happening.
As Josie and Cameron left Idaho Falls, drenching rain was falling. By the
time they arrived back here at Pocatello, flood warnings were out for our
Snake River and its tributaries.
Far from expressing displeasure about Fahrenheit 9-11, it's obvious the
Creator has taken this opportunity to really end the hideous drought in
And that's how we Indians see things.
URANIUM TRAGEDIES AT NAVAJO [2/27/04]
Note by Hunter Bear:
For background on the continuing uranium tragedies at Navajo Nation and environs, see several things I've written -- including my September 1957 article in The American Socialist and another of mine in the July 22 1980 issue of Labor Notes. Also included in this compendium is my relatively recent, related piece on the now former [corrupt] tribal chairman, Peter MacDonald. http://www.hunterbear.org/a_native_rights_sampling.htm
In the Spring, 1980, increasingly disturbed
about widespread stomach
ailments, some of them increasingly serious, at Navajo Community College [Dine' College], we looked into the possibilities of old uranium mines in the Lukachukai Mountains [Chuska Range] immediately above the College -- and the source of our water supplies. We found several old, abandoned mines with tailings spill-offs -- pointing directly into our water sources.
Immediately, we asked the Feds for a water
check but got only a laconic
white-wash. I then sent water samples to a very reputable lab in the
East -- which gave us an extremely grim assessment. We made and posted hundreds of copies of that report. This led to official promises of remedial action and some belated efforts. In the meantime, water filter use at NCC skyrocketed.
Navajo and Laguna loss of life has been extremely heavy for decades --
stemming from uranium mining, milling and refining. All of that is
continuing along with great livestock loss and massive environmental damage.
While all of this has been going on, people in Nevada, extreme Northern
Arizona, Central/Southern Utah, and even into parts of Idaho and Wyoming continue to die as a result of nuclear testing and radioactive fall-out at and from Desert Rock, Nevada in the late 1940s, 1950s, 1960s.
Hunter [Hunter Bear] [John R Salter, Jr]
NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBAL COLLEGES [AND MY EXTREMELY INTERESTING EXPERIENCES AT NAVAJO] 2/16/04
The attached news story from Lawrence, Kansas
focuses heavily on Haskell Indian Nations University,
a BIA sponsored and funded college -- based at
Lawrence. [It could be viewed as a descendant of the old Carlisle
[Pennsylvania] government Indian School which flourished in the latter
19th century and early 20th.] Carlisle promoted,
almost always very unsuccessfully [fortunately],
assimilation of young Natives.
The first of the tribally-controlled Indian
colleges is Navajo Community
College [now Dine' College] which was launched at the end of the '60s,
primarily by my father's art protégé and a very close family friend, Ned A.
Hatathli. I can well remember Ned -- at our Flagstaff home countless
times -- talking about his dream as early as the late '40s: a free and
democratic bi-cultural Navajo college -- controlled by the grassroots. He,
far more than anyone else, brought that to fruition. Another fine Dine'
student of Dad's, Rebecca Dotson, had a similar dream relating to a
community controlled Navajo elementary school -- and she subsequently played a major role in the development of the Rough Rock school which followed NCC.
Under heavy pressure from the increasingly corrupt administration of Navajo chairman, Peter MacDonald [who succeeded Raymond Nakai, another old friend of our family] and from the BIA as well [which put up, directly and indirectly much of NCC's funding], Ned committed suicide in 1972 soon after the campus was moved from Many Farms to relatively remote Tsaile [Say Lee -- Place by the Lake.] The College then went through a series of difficult internal convulsions -- but was able to continue and to launch the branch campus at Shiprock. [The College now has several branches]. The noted Marxist, Phil Reno, a fine friend of Ned's and of mine, taught Econ at Shiprock.
We came to NCC for a several year stint in 1978 -- I to teach in Educational and Social Sciences and to do several other things. [Eldri wound up teaching in the almost all-Navajo Tsaile Elementary school.] The president who hired me had been forced out by the time we actually got there [there were also two competing deans at that point] and the new president was a BIA-oriented person who also was an ally of Chairman MacDonald. Within a few months that president was gone.
Part of my contribution to that departure was speaking for two hours on Ned and his dream at a very large grassroots Navajo meeting at the Lukachukai chapter house. As I spoke, a portrait of former tribal chairman Raymond Nakai -- our old friend -- looked at me from the opposite wall. A new and much better NCC president was soon hired. I became chair of Educational and Social Sciences, chair of the Academic Standards Committee, chair of the Curriculum Committee -- and, for a year, Chair of Physical Education as well [something of which I really knew nothing -- but PE's factional problems were pretty heavy though they were all good friends of mine.] I was also Chair of the Grievance Committee which consistently and fortunately, no matter how long our deliberations, always found unanimously for the worker
[faculty and staff] and I was among those who set up a Student Court
system -- very friendly to the students, of course -- to keep Chairman
MacDonald's tribal police off our campuses. We were successful on that.
In time, the NCC regents took me and another faculty person [Ursula Wilson,Navajo] to Washington, DC on a significant lobbying mission. When some legislators expressed concern about the College's internal situation, we were able to reassure them -- and I could speak, from some knowledge of history, of the ups and downs that many colleges and universities had [including Harvard] during their founding years.
One of the major challenges facing the College, and one handled successfully by a good number of us, was to ensure that the universities of Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado especially accepted NCC courses on a full credit basis. I had solid personal connections at ASU and NAU -- and a few at UA.
Other colleagues had the same ties with other
regional schools. Anyway,
things leveled off and settled at the College, which like the Dine' people
[now 250,000 with a Res bigger than West Virginia], has survived and grown nicely. It presently has a total of about 2,000 students, most of them Navajo.
We also fought the uranium companies and "all their wicked works."
Chairman Peter MacDonald eventually went to jail. He is now out, pardoned by Clinton early in 2001, but is pretty much just history.
NCC/Dine' College has always had its own basic funding legislation [the
Navajo Community College Act] -- the other tribal colleges, now close to 35 or so -- are on another arrangement. This has disturbed a few of the other colleges [not all, by any means] -- but I am always with the Navajo on all these things. Another unique feature in the NCC/Dine' College situation is that its budget always provides for special protective ceremonies by medicine men -- something of which I and everyone else certainly approve.
I give all the tribally-controlled colleges high marks. North Dakota has
four -- at Standing Rock, Fort Totten, Turtle Mountain and Fort Berthold.
Transfer students from those schools have generally done quite well at UND and other universities.
And quite rightly, the basic leadership of all of these tribal colleges is
always Native -- and representative of the respective tribal nations they
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear] [formerly John R Salter, Jr] Micmac/St Francis
Abenaki/St Regis Mohawk
WOODY GUTHRIE [3/26/04]
NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:
We usually have an on-going sub to the New Yorker but it lapsed, as these things do. Fortunately, we have given our two sons -- John/Beba and Peter/Mack -- subscriptions. Mack passed on this NYer review of a just out book on Woody Guthrie. I'm more likely to get a Guthrie CD -- of which I already have a number -- than a book on him but this does look interesting.
When I was growing up in Flag, the town was "filling up" with "Okies" [a
broad characterization which included all Dust Bowl refugees from Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and West and Central Texas. We had Kansas and Oklahoma kin which we sometimes visited.] Highway 66 passed right through our town where it was Santa Fe Street and many of these folks, welcoming cool [and cold] clean air and high yellow pines, dropped off in Flag and environs at that point to work in the woods. [Many, BTW, were part-Indian.] Others went on to California where they were frequently turned back into Northern Arizona by California gunmen -- vigilantes and state police -- unless there was a pressing need at the moment for "cheap" labor in, as Carey McWilliams put it, the "factories in the fields." California had just had, in the early and mid-thirties, a flood of highly dramatic and generally very effective farm labor
strikes led by the legendary Pat Chambers and his intrepid colleague,
Carolyn Decker. Both were Communists of the ecumenical stripe and both, like the Jesuit missionaries, appear to have liked the frontiers far better than the orbit of any Mother Church. And plenty of farm strike momentum in California was continuing, especially in the Imperial Valley and the San Joaquin. See Cletus E Daniel, Bitter Harvest: A History of California Farmworkers, 1870-1941 [Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981.]
So I first heard of Woody when I was a little kid and we were all humming "Oklahoma Hills" and related epics. ["Way Down Yonder in the Indian nations/Ride my pony on the reservation/Oklahoma hills where I was born. . ."] I have always liked his stuff very much indeed -- along with that of the obviously related Weavers and Almanac Singers. The fine Labor Heritage Foundation has recently issued a CD of "Talking Union and Other Union Songs" [Almanac Singers via Smithsonian/Folkways] which I got as a gift this past Christmas. Labor Heritage [easily found on the Net] offers much more as well, including Guthrie, Robeson, and Joe Glazer.
Anyway, this review which Pete sent me -- along with Random House's
discussion of Jack Weatherford's very fine work on another hero of mine,
Jenghiz [Genghis] Khan and the Mongols -- is interesting, and provocative. [Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.]
"Genghis Khan was an innovative leader, the first ruler in many conquered countries to put the power of law above his own power, encourage religious freedom, create public schools, grant diplomatic immunity, abolish torture, and institute free trade. The trade routes he created became lucrativepathways for commerce, but also for ideas, technologies, and expertise that transformed the way people lived. The Mongols introduced the first international paper currency and postal system and developed and spread revolutionary technologies like printing, the cannon, compass, and abacus. They took local foods and products like lemons, carrots, noodles, tea, rugs, playing cards, and pants and turned them into staples of life around the world. The Mongols were the architects of a new way of life at a pivotal time in history."
But back to Woody and the Times of Some of Us:
Whatever this new book may say, you do have to know the grassroots people -- when Dust Bowl and Depression were both barrels of a hideous weapon of those very tough times -- to really appreciate Woody Guthrie et al.
[Louis Proyect of Marxism
Discussion/Marxmail comments on my Woody Guthrie post: "Vintage
Hunter. So glad you are still hanging in."
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
PARAPSYCHOLOGY [8/6/01 and 3/16/04]
About the time I was ready to surrender to
the horrific heat plaguing even the Idaho mountains --
as it is most of the rest of the country -- I noted
the good Adam Levenstein [whose wit I genuinely appreciate and with whom I
would agree on the greatest number of Big Issues in the Cosmos] has
invoked Skepticism and attacked Alternative Medicine
and The Paranormal etc. Several other voices have lent
support to Adam -- and I've even heard that, a very
long time ago -- 'way, 'way back in the 19th century -- Marx and Engels
voiced opposition to some facet of this.
I'll deal at this point with the paranormal -- or, to put it as it's
generally known, parapsychology.
First, what Marx and Engels may have said on this much more than a century ago impresses me not a whit. There are a good many things in and around the circle of science today that a great many people didn't accept 'way back yonder. Clarence Darrow put it nicely at Dayton when he spoke of the great danger of "marching backward, ever backward, into the Middle Ages."
Secondly, Adam and I and others had -- on another list long, long ago and
far, far away -- a little fencing match on all of this. My presence on
Marxism Discussion at this moment is, of course, well known.
But, anyway, I'm certainly not going to rant and flame -- and most
definitely not with people with whom I vigorously agree vis-a-vis the
necessity and and the basic flow and the inevitability of socialism.
Everyone to his/her own thing on these other issues -- just like religion orthe lack of it -- but here is where I stand:
I think the case for the reality of parapsychology has been very well made from a scientific standpoint. I'm speaking of telepathy, clairvoyance, telekinesis or psychokinesis, precognition and certain related phenomena.
And I think a very strong case can be made,
scientifically, for the
"survival of the human personality beyond bodily death" -- i.e., immortality of the soul [this doesn't necessarily have to entail a belief in a Divine Being.]
In that friendly little discussion on the other List, I made -- as so many
of us always do -- some reading suggestions:
My thought to anyone who might be
interested in exploring any of this, would be to check through the various
not-hard-to-find older classic works by Dr J.B. Rhine (Duke), Prof. J.G.
Pratt (University of Virginia), and Prof. Gardner Murphy (New York
University.) More recent researchers who've published extensively in this
area are Dr. John Beloff, retired Chair of Psychology, University of
Edinburgh; and Professor Charles Tart, Psychology, UC-Berkeley. Beloff
has a very interesting summary of things in his The Relentless Question:
Reflections on the Paranormal [Jefferson, N.C. and London: McFarland &
But if I were suggesting one single work -- with much basic lab stuff --
it would be Gardner Murphy's The Challenge of Psychical Research: A Primer of Parapsychology [New York: Harper & Brothers, 1961.] Murphy was long-time research director at Menninger's Clinic, served extensively as president of the American Psychological Association, was a professor at NYU, and the very long-time president of the quite old and well-established (founded by, among others, William James), American Society of Psychical Research (ASPR), 5 West 73d Street, N.Y. NY. 10023. And that's a very scientific outfit to which I've felt perfectly comfortable belonging to for about the last 40 years. In this just cited and very lucid and tightly organized and trenchant work of Murphy's, he covers telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and psychokinesis and the very convincing lab work involving all of these, and he also provides a quite interesting and provocative chapter on "survival" -- survival by the human personality of bodily death.
In this area-- survival -- he stops short of a personal acceptance.
Confronting some very intriguing material indeed, including much secured under carefully monitored conditions, Murphy seriously ponders and wonders. "But if this means," he writes, "that in a serious philosophical argument, I would plead the anti-survival case, the conclusion is erroneous. I linger because I cannot cross the stream. We need far more evidence; we need new perspectives; perhaps we need more courageous minds." Murphy was himself a very brave man. Years later, the NDE -- near-death experience -- researchers such as Kubler-Ross have carried things a little closer toward the other side of this great canyon.
An extensive compilation of Professor James' extensive work a century or
so ago in this whole field of psychical research is Frederick Burkhardt,
General Editor and Fredson Bowers, Textual Editor, The Works of William
James: Essays in Psychical Research [Cambridge, Mass. and London, England: Harvard University Press, 1986.
I had several extremely impressive materials involving Soviet and other
Eastern Bloc research in parapsychology, especially in the area of
psychokinesis [telekinesis] -- which is, to state it with barebones
simplicity, the effect of mind on matter -- but these I loaned to students
who, I trust, still have them safely in their own personal libraries. One
that I do have, however, is Leonid Vasiliev, Mysterious Phenomena of the
Human Psyche [New York: University Books, 1965.] ASPR would be, I'm sure, happy to make other appropriate suggestions on Soviet and general Eastern Bloc research.
I am, of course, a tribal person who has, in my own tribal settings
[Micmac, St. Francis Abenaki, St. Regis Mohawk] -- and those of several
other tribes, very especially the Navajo in and right around whom I grew up -- observed many things indeed which defy any blackboard analysis by
conventional "western" science. Our cousins in the Gobi have impressed
many westerners in this vein, starting with Roy Chapman Andrews in the
1910s and 1920s, and to this very moment.
No tribal person anywhere in the world would discount this "mysterious"
dimension of human existence and being -- and I certainly never would, nor will I ever dodge the issue.
I see nothing in any of this -- or in the recognition of a spiritual
dimension in humanity and in other creatures of the Creator -- including
my one-half Bobcat cat that sits by my computer looking on approvingly -- that in any way runs counter to socialism. I certainly have had no problem at any point being, I think, an effective radical agitator. I like logic -- and I also listen to intuition.
And I credit intuition with my staying alive
through some very interesting
and challenging and thoroughly lethal situations.
In Solidarity -
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR]
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
GOING SOUTH: CHE GUEVARA
AND BILLY WEATHERFORD [RED EAGLE] 3/7/04
The people who murdered Che Guevara were cold blooded
killers, no more and
Why Front Page mag [David Horowitz et al.] is being splashed on ASDnet --
along with the other anti-Cuban stuff -- strikes me as weird, bizarre and
surreal. The article [not surprisingly] trashes Che Guevara and the
developing Hollywood film being made on his life and times.
I'm beginning to do some very, very limited outside walking these days. My
grandson/son, Thomas, who with his mother Maria and his sister, Samantha,
has lived with us almost all his life, is in Medicine at ISU and one of
those who accompanies me. As we walked along today, I gave him another of
my lectures on Indian history. Thomas, in addition to everything from our
side of the family, is one-half Mississippi Choctaw [Neshoba and Leake
counties, piney woods hill country and bloody turf.] The Choctaws and the
Creeks have been traditional neighbors. And when I was a kid, there was --
among other great historical warriors -- a Creek hero of mine: Billy
Weatherford, Red Eagle, the great war chief. Billy Weatherford was Red
Stick Creek -- and Highland Scottish.
During the War of 1812, in which the militant Red Stick Creeks especially
supported the British against Andrew Jackson et al, Red Eagle and his
warriors slaughtered the Americans at Fort Mims in Alabama. Five hundred
Americans were killed. Only about a dozen survived to bring the news to
Jackson. Depictions of the resolution of the Fort Mims problem show bloody
hatchets being swung in all directions. If you're Indian, it can't help but
Jackson, labeling Billy Weatherford, the "Indian butcher of Fort Mims,"
swore to kill him on sight.
And then one day, a shadow fell across the door of Jackson's tent. It was
Weatherford, Red Eagle. "General Jackson," he said, "I am not afraid of you
for I am a Creek warrior. Do with me as you please. I have done the whites
all the harm I could. If I had an army, I would yet fight. But I have
none. I cannot animate the dead."
Although soldiers and others who had lost relatives and friends at the hands
of Weatherford's warriors screamed for the Creek leader's head, Jackson
ordered them away and refused to make Red Eagle a prisoner. The cries for
vengeance continued for years -- and Weatherford was seen by many Americans
as a threat for much of his remaining life -- but he was neither imprisoned
Andrew Jackson was no special friend of Indians -- quite the contrary on
occasion -- but he could exhibit honor, especially when he saw great honor
and high courage in its own right.
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR]
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]
GOING NORTH: IROQUOIS, JESUITS, INTERMOUNTAIN NATIVES -- AND SYNCRETISM [2/13/04]
Note by Hunter Bear:
Jesuits were guided into the Montana/Idaho sections of the Intermountain
West in 1841 by John Gray [Ignace Hatchiorauquasha] and his wife, Mary Ann
Charles [Marienne Neketichon]. Both were Mohawks [Iroquois Confederacy]
who, as very young people, came West with the fur trade in 1816. [They are
great/great/great grandparents of mine. My youngest son, Peter Gray Salter,
is named for their oldest, Peter Gray, who was born in 1818 just to the west
of this very Idaho house of ours.] The principal leader of the Jesuit
delegation was Father Pierre Jean De Smet whose key associate was Father
Nicolas Point. Father Point was an extremely gifted artist. Among all
sorts of subjects, he sketched John and Marienne -- and John in his famous
fight with five grizzly bears, all of whom John eventually killed. [Much on
the Grays, and Father Point's sketches of them, are on this Lair of Hunterbear
John Gray was the leader of the Mohawk [and a few Abenaki] fur hunters in
the Far West for a quarter century -- and was a hard-line fighter for Native
rights, often clashing directly with the fur companies. It is likely that
the strike initiated by he and his band against fur boss Peter Skene Ogden
in May, 1825 -- south of present day Pocatello, Idaho -- may have been the
first labor strike in the West.
Father Peter De Smet became a major advocate for Indians in a broad section
of the Intermountain region and the northern Great Plains.
A thoroughly fascinating collection of much of Father Point's work,
accompanied by his commentary and notes, is WILDERNESS KINGDOM: INDIAN LIFE
IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS, 1840-1847 [Translated and introduced by Joseph P.
Donnelly, S.J., with an appreciation by John C. Ewers.] New York: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1967. A very large book in every respect, 274 great
big pages, it contains hundreds of Father Point's in-color prints and
paintings of Native people, Native cultures, the Land.
The Jesuits, who personally and first-hand studied Native theologies and
Native cultures in great detail and generally over a long period of time,
respected the Old Ways [which were always very viable and vital indeed!] and
their complexities and direction -- and were very open to a blending of
those traditional beliefs with Roman Catholicism. [I often use the term,
"Jesuit Catholicism," in this Native context.] Vatican purists were unhappy
with these syncretic [syncretism] approaches, but the Jesuits are known for
pretty much doing as they please, sometimes a bit circuitously.
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear] Micmac/St Francis Abenaki/St Regis Mohawk