OUTLAW TRAIL:  THE NATIVE AS ORGANIZER [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR / JOHN R. SALTER, JR   FALL 2007]  WITH THE PAINTING MICMAC MAN  -- AND THE POEM, REPATRIATION  SOLILOQUY

UPDATED AUGUST 15 2012 WITH EXPERIENCE -- AND STORY TELLING (HUNTER BEAR) AND PROGRESS -- A MOSTLY DEEP SOUTH TALE (HUNTER BEAR) AUGUST 17 2012

 

 

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear/John R Salter Jr]

Photo:  "After My Total Victory in the Lupus War" (2003-2011)

 

 

My activist life as an independent social justice rebel is always challenging.  In the course of things so far, I've survived tough beatings as a kid at school and severe ones in adulthood, a number of very serious efforts to kill me, jail for good causes, no end of smear campaigns and clumsy ridicule by ignorant and covert cowards, the lethal genetic no-cure disease Systemic Lupus, other hostile challenges.  But I remain a successful grassroots organizer, teacher, writer, and parent.  I have a very strong physique and a very strong mind and much support from Bear Medicine and other "things unseen".  And I always find encouragement in the comment given me by a grandmother when, at five years of age, I was near death from Scarlet Fever: "Only the good die young." I continue to hold, as I always have and always will, to the ideal of a full measure of libertarian, material, and spiritual well-being.  I always keep going, always keep fighting.  Hunter Bear, Summer 2012

 

 

See  Also,  http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm

 

For a good feel for some of the civil liberties challenges faced by an effective organizer, see this cluster of four related pages:  http://hunterbear.org/a_bizarre__1979_fbi_smear_effort.htm

 

And see the Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child [My Father]:
http://hunterbear.org/James%20and%20Salter%20and%20Dad.htm
(Expanded and with more photos in October, 2012.)
 

See several very key pieces from our big Scrapbook pak on the massive and historic Jackson Movement of 1962-63. Three consecutive and full pages beginning with this Link:  http://hunterbear.org/a_piece_of__the_scrapbook.htm  See also my personal reflections and great appreciation of my colleague-in-struggle and good friend indeed, Medgar W. Evers:  http://hunterbear.org/medgar_w.htm

THROWING DOWN THE GAUNTLET:  JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI 1963 -- SENT TO A WIDE RANGE OF INDIVIDUAL AND ORGANIZATIONAL COMPONENTS OF THE JACKSON AND MISSISSIPPI POWER STRUCTURE.

 

A historic document from the immediately above Scrapbook pak:  We broaden our five month highly successful boycott of downtown Jackson into a full-scale mass, non-violent Movement.

 

Outlaw Trail is published as a chapter in Visions and Voices:  American Indian Activism and the Civil Rights Movement, edited by Kurt Peters and Terry Straus, Albatross Press, 2009.

 

 

I'm an organizer -- a working social justice agitator.  I've been one since the mid-1950s and I'll always be one.  In many respects, it's one of the  toughest trails anyone could ever blaze.

An effective organizer seeks to get grassroots people together -- and does; develops on-going and democratic local leadership; deals effectively with grievances and individual/family concerns; works with the people to achieve basic organizational goals and  develop new ones; and builds a sense of the New World To Come Over The Mountains Yonder -- and how all of that relates to the shorter term steps.

An effective organizer has to be a person of integrity, courage, commitment.

And a person of solidarity and sacrifice.

The satisfactions are enormous.

 
I was born from the Four Directions -- as John Randall Salter, Jr. I grew up in wild and rugged mountains and canyons at and around Flagstaff, [Coconino County] Arizona. It was a quasi-frontier atmosphere where you learned early on  how to fight -- and fight effectively. You also learned and appreciated the sensible use of firearms.
 
My father was Native from the Far Northeast [Mi'kmaq, St. Francis Abenaki, St. Regis Mohawk] -- the first Native professor [Art] hired by Arizona State College, now Northern Arizona University. Early in his life, born Frank Gray, he had been adopted and partially raised by William Mackintire Salter and Mary Gibbens Salter -- a prominent New England family. They changed his name to John Randall Salter and I, at my hatch, became that as well.  He had always resented the name change as did I as time passed.  In 1995, I legally changed my name to John Hunter Gray.  My mother, basically of Scottish/Swiss background, came from an old western "frontier" family. 
 
Flagstaff was a tough town, high in the mountains, and could be fiercely discriminatory when it came to racial "minorities" -- with a major target frequently being Indian people.  Some restaurants and other public accomodations maintained a policy of "No Indians or Dogs Allowed" -- reinforcing this with signs.  Anglo "lawmen" were often brutal.  Both of my parents were quite active in social justice concerns.  Early on, in his teaching career at Arizona State, my father organized the growing number of Native students into the very active American Indian Club.  Many of these became influential in the affairs of their respective tribes, in art, in education.
 
Thus early on, our family had extremely close relations with several Native Southwestern nations -- relations that exist to this very moment.  Our cultural background from Dad's side, Wabanaki and Iroquois, is heavily influenced by Navajo and Laguna.
 
 
We now live, following almost twenty moves, in Eastern Idaho. And the reason we are here is because of a great, great, great-grandfather, whose name was John Gray [Ignace Hatchiorauquasha]. Half  Mohawk and half Scottish, he  was a leader of the Iroquois fur hunters in the Far West in the first part of the 19th century — came into the West in 1816 with a 16 year old Mohawk wife, left in the late thirties, came back again in the early 1840s. Gray's Lake in Idaho, Gray's Hole valley, Gray's River, are all named for him. His basic winter camp was right behind our house, up half a mile. That's why we're right here. Our family culture hero, he once killed five grizzly bears in one fight while a Jesuit priest sketched the whole thing.  John Gray and his band fought the fur companies -- winning many social justice struggles for the Indian people.

As a boy, I shot my huge Coming of Age Bear -- deep in the vast Sycamore Canyon wilderness area, my very special setting, southwest of Flagstaff.  At that point, I then became a man. The fiery spirit of the Bear and its abundantly fine qualities --  intelligence, courage, stamina, instinct -- are with me always and have served me very well and faithfully on my swift and rocky River of No Return.
 
I started doing fully adult work as I entered my teens -- many tough jobs across the Far West as those earlier years moved on: among them,   much forest fire fighting, agricultural laborer, trapper, development miner. [And, since I was a big kid, I had no problem at all representing myself as  being a good deal older than I really was!]  I learned very, very soon the critical importance of solidarity with one's fellow workers:  "An injury to  one is an injury to all."  I have always belonged to at least one labor union.
 
Entering the U.S. Army, I served a full hitch -- very honorably by the Army's standards -- and was out at the beginning of 1955,  just as I was becoming 21.  At that point I faced a major life directional crossroads.  And so I then made an extremely significant Vision Journey:  I went down the length of the very vast and deep Sycamore Canyon when the upper snow melted in the late spring of '55.
 
 It took several days and I had a full backpack and a Winchester 30/30. I know of no contemporary person in those days -- and maybe even to this day -- who ever made that trip. I was a basically healthy kid -- but there were problems.  

My parents hoped [and Mother pushed ] for a "respectable" career to which I was resistant. And so that magnificent trip through Sycamore  -- coming home to my very special land -- was in largest part to organize my own thinking.

As I have written in an earlier piece of mine, "Ghosts":  "In the course of that Great Trek, I explored some vasty side canyons coming down off the western rim. I saw ancient Indian ruins in cliff settings -- the location of which I would never reveal.   The entire journey featured all sorts of wild game -- much of it not afraid of me at all -- and I saw hundreds of elk antlers, seasonally shed  in winter grazing areas.   At one point, I saw huge bear tracks -- very fresh -- under Sycamore trees which had been clawed eight feet or so up.  This was grizzly sign -- even though no grizzlies were supposed to exist anywhere in Arizona by that time.  At another point, resting on a knoll above Sycamore Creek,  I heard a noisy crashing sound coming in toward me through the brush.  I waited.  Suddenly, a huge jet black long-horn bull emerged noisily, limping from an old wound on one back thigh evidenced by old lion or bear claw scars.  He drank from the creek.  When he had finished, I asked him quietly, "How are you doing today?"  He jerked his head up -- had never, I'm sure, seen a human creature before -- and looked directly at me.  Then he turned and plunged back into the brush.  He was a direct descendant of many generations of purely wild cattle, stemming from Spanish gold mining operations in the latter 1700s.

Eventually, when the geology had shifted into the Great Verde Fault, I found rose quartz -- gold-bearing quartz -- but I would never reveal the location of that, ever.

And when I finally "came out" in the comparatively "civilized" Verde Valley, I was very much together.  Not long thereafter, I went with my family to Mexico where Dad painted and lectured -- and I spent the month studying that fascinating nation's radicalism and Native and union movements.  And then to sociology at the University of Arizona and eventually to Arizona State University -- fine enough.  But almost immediately I  fortunately connected with  radical and democratic  -- and consistently embattled --  industrial unionism. My organizing career all over the country in Native rights, labor, civil rights and liberties, social justice in general,  has been -- no false modesty -- successful.  I still keep going."  [Hunter Gray, in "Ghosts."]

And it is for sure a River of No Return.

I've organized all over -- the Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Deep South, New England, Chicago, Midwest, Up-State New York, Northern Plains, Rockies.  I married Eldri and a family developed -- and we traveled as a small and cohesive "horde" from one setting to another, decade after decade.
 
Sometimes it's been full-time organizing and part-time teaching; or full-time teaching and full-time organizing; or simply organizing [which can be double-duty work in its own right!] I've worked with grassroots people from all sorts of ethnic and cultural backgrounds in militant and democratic organizations and movements.

Trained as a sociologist, I've taught in a number of colleges and universities: Wisconsin State, Superior; Tougaloo Southern Christian  College; Goddard College; Coe College; University of Iowa; Navajo Community College [now Dine' College]; University of North Dakota -- and part-time at University of Washington; Seattle Community College;  Roosevelt University; Southeastern Community College / Iowa State Penitentiary [Native inmates].  In all of my teaching, whenever and wherever, I've consistently incorporated an explicitly activist social justice dimension and, at least informally and often formally, one encompassing Native American challenges and studies. [I "officially" retired from teaching in 1994 at the University of North Dakota -- a full professor at American Indian Studies, former departmental chair, chair of Honors for a stint, and a member of the graduate faculty.] 
 
But I have always -- always -- been an Organizer.
 
I came, with Eldri, to Mississippi in 1961 and taught at Tougaloo College -- a private, predominately Black school, just north of Jackson. I was Advisor to the Jackson Youth Council of the NAACP, a member of the executive committee of the Jackson NAACP, a member of the Board of Directors of the Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches, and a primary organizer of the Jackson Movement of 1962-1963.  I also conducted some of the first poverty/racism surveys in several Mississippi rural counties and testified to my grim findings before hearings conducted by the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

I served as the Strategy Committee Chair of the developing and ultimately very large-scale and blood-dimmed Jackson Movement which reached its climax in the Spring and Summer of 1963. I participated in the most direct sense in many of the bloodily-suppressed and increasingly massive demonstrations. Our colleague, Medgar W. Evers, was murdered. Along with many others, I was beaten and arrested on a number of occasions; was targeted in the sweeping anti-Movement injunction, City of Jackson v. John R. Salter, Jr. et al. [which, of course, we defied]; and was seriously injured [along with an associate, Rev. Ed King] and my car destroyed, in a rigged auto wreck.

Following the sanguinary Jackson Movement epoch, I became, at the end of the Summer of 1963, Field Organizer for the radical Southern Conference Educational Fund [SCEF]. I worked across the hard-core South. I was the primary organizer of an ultimately quite successful large-scale, multi-county civil rights grassroots organizing project in the isolated, poverty-stricken,  Klan-infested Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt -- many cruelly repressed people: Black and Native.. In 1966 and 1967, I organized militant grassroots anti-poverty movements — i.e., Peoples' Program on Poverty — in the Northeastern North Carolina Black Belt. In those hard-fought Southern years, my wife and I learned much, much indeed from the grassroots about courage and commitment and vision -- and we have carried all  of that with us for all of these decades.

We left the South in the Summer of 1967, went to the Pacific Northwest where I was active in many social justice endeavors. In 1969-1973, we were on the bloody South/Southwest Side of Chicago — where I directed the large-scale grassroots organization of multi-issue block clubs. We worked with African American, Puerto Rican, Chicano, and some Native American people and we fought the police and the Daley Machine — and organized more than 300 block clubs and related organizations.  It was a cat-clawing struggle but we -- all of us together -- secured much good ground and won many significant victories.

Concurrently, on the North Side of Chicago, I was increasingly active in the Native community centered then in Uptown: much work on behalf of the American Indian Center with, among others, such admirable stalwarts as Susan K. Power, Bill Redcloud, Willard LaMere. I worked on various Native committees.  I was was a key organizer of the regional all-Indian Native American Community Organizational Training Center and served for many years as its Chair -- even after we left Chicago for nearby Iowa. [Bill Redcloud was Training Center Director.]
 
At Iowa [based primarily at the University of Iowa], I was active with such spirited people as Elliott Ricehill, and Alice Hatfield Azure and many other Indian students in numerous Native grassroots service  and rights campaigns. Carrying a full-time teaching load at the University, I was also UI's Advisor and Counselor for the American Indian students -- and we organized many on-campus cultural and social justice events. I spent several years of very deep involvement on behalf of Native prisoners at Iowa State Penitentiary. 
 
And I served as the controversial social justice director for the 12 county Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, New York [1976-1978],  where Native rights and union labor and anti-racism were among the key thrusts that I and others initiated and carried through successfully.  Among other campaigns, we organized Native mink-skinners [mostly Algonquin migrant workers from eastern Canada] -- who were trapped in some of the most repressive, feudal conditions I'd seen since the Deep South -- into successful strike actions. We launched all sorts of effective  grassroots single-issue and multi-issue projects. We actively supported the Iroquois land claims cases -- all of this both directly and through the New York State Catholic Committee.

Then we were back in the Southwest for several years — in the vast Navajo country, teaching and holding other posts as well at Navajo Community College [now Dine' College] -- founded by Ned Hatathli, a former student of my father and an old family friend. We were consistently active on behalf of students and staff -- and organized an effective faculty union.  I handled many personnel issues and contract matters. And I was extremely involved
in anti-uranium campaigns.  The "yellow rock that kills" had already led to its presently very long string of  many, many bones under the turquoise sky.
 
For most of the 1980s deep into the 1990s, from my teaching position at University of North Dakota, I was an active organizer of many effective Native rights campaigns in the Northern Plains — e.g., Grand Forks, North Dakota and the utterly racist reservation border town of Devils Lake, North Dakota. As I have for many decades, wherever I've been, I handled a consistent flow of individual and family advocate cases for people of various ethnic and tribal backgrounds.  I was also quite instrumental in the defense of civil liberties -- e.g., members of the Native American Church.  I was able to secure first-rate attorneys on behalf of individual and group rights.

And then, in due course, we returned to the Mountain West — and are presently based at Pocatello, Idaho where we are quite involved in various 'rights campaigns, very much in the context of considerable anti-Indian prejudice and discrimination.  And, when time allows, I write about the experiences I've had since I was very young indeed.

But wherever we've been, we have always fought for social justice. It's in my blood, and it's never going to go away.

I've worked with all kinds of people, Indians of many tribes, many different ethnicities. And I've learned an enormous amount from grassroots people, whoever they were and are. I've always been impressed by the great courage and resiliency of those grassroots people, whether it's Jackson, oppressed Indians in Grand Forks or Devil's Lake, North Dakota, or wherever it is. It is all well worth it. I have no regrets.  There is, when all is said and done, a very basic unity amongst Humanity.  Native people, whatever our culture or geographical location [or sometime disagreements among ourselves] have demonstrated an enduring commitment to remain socially and culturally, individually and collectively, Native people in the context of self-determination and the preservation of treaty rights.  And Our sense of Unity  as Indians is always, in the last analysis, powerful.

If you ask to where does my loyalty go, I'd say the ultimate loyalty goes to the human race, but the immediate loyalty goes to the Native side. In other words, I stand with the Indians.
 
The Outlaw Trail of the social justice organizer is replete with challenges -- and attacks of many kinds from foes.  I  have, I should add, an F.B.I. file that goes beyond 3,000 pages. And I was on many  of that agency's different agitator lists, including the "Rabble Rouser Index." [I take that label as a compliment.]
 
It's a migratory Trail and you certainly won't get rich.  Eldri and I, married now almost 47 years, have four wonderful children [and many fine grandchildren.] Recently, our oldest son, John, wrote this:

"Except for his refusal to be walked on by any boss, my father was never like Abner Snopes, but like that peculiar family in Faulkner's "Barn Burning," We were always loading up the wagon with our battered furniture and moving, moving, moving. We lived in North Carolina, we lived in Vermont; we lived in Chicago, Cedar Rapids, Iowa City, Seattle, and Rochester, New York. We lived on the Navajo Nation, we lived in Grand Forks, North Dakota. Our houses were never too grand, never too squalid. Not much survived the moves but our family, and, of course, the steady parade of visitors, people in rags and suits, people coming to see Hunter -- people in need: in need of money, advice, food, sanctuary from the Feds, respite from self-destruction; people with plans, problems, with energy that could benefit from focus."

So, if you are an aspiring  social justice Organizer -- "bright eyed and bushy-tailed" -- recognize that you can't practice that always critically needed vocation and have the things about which Thorstein Veblen wrote so well and indictingly in this classic attack on conspicuous  consumption, The Theory of the Leisure Class.

You'll get your skull cracked, your hide cut, and you'll often get fired.

But I'd rather have Those Memories than Money.
 
So I plan to do much more in my life -- much more indeed -- before the eventual trip into the Fog and Deep Canyon, up over the High Mountains, and Far Beyond to the Shining Sun in the Turquoise Sky that glows forever down on the Headwaters of Life. And when that Journey finally comes the great Bear will accompany me.   
 
 

A NOTE ON EXPERIENCE -- AND STORY TELLING  (HUNTER BEAR  AUGUST 15  2012)

 
 
Born in 1934, I've been privileged by History to have had a good number indeed of very valuable first hand experiences in a number of realms: Native Americans, union labor, civil rights, civil liberties -- and "outdoor matters" such as wilderness, wildlife, hunting, forest fires and the closely related matter of traditional firearms. And there are some other things as well.  Those varied experiences are foundational.  And I have also "read the literature" on those extensively.  If our home up here is slightly threatened by fast growing vegetation -- e.g., imperialistic and, despite the drought, fast growing Russian Olive trees et al -- it's also threatened internally by a really vast accumulation of books and large collections of very primary materials.
 
So I have no hesitation whatsoever in bringing in that personal experience and related written material into the things of which I write and speak. 
 
I am a born story teller -- stories with appropriate context and very pertinent points.  I do come out of two very rich story telling traditions:  Native American and Western American rural.
 
But there are many things of which I know too little.  And in those instances, such as Middle Eastern matters, I am reluctant to comment beyond, say, a few general observations and tentative opinions.  I do keep learning as much as I can, right to the present moment -- when the person providing information and analysis is well versed in the respective field.
 
I have found that most people, whatever their background and "place", appreciate that personal experience very much indeed. Occasionally, it's resented by those who are short experience-wise in the areas of my "expertise."  But whether the setting was that of the very cordial Arizona Mine-Mill Council or a personally unfamiliar but receptive setting such as the board of Pacific Northwest Bell or very racially and diverse grassroots people in a myriad of campaign struggles, or a truly vast number of students of every conceivable background -- well, I go over pretty well.  I have never been at all short with respect to interested individuals and audiences.  I continue to speak and write.
 
As a side note, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized fairly early on the value of Native oral history -- when the Native historian was genuinely well versed -- in cases involving treaties and land claims where it is necessary to determine exactly What the signatory Natives felt they were signing when they signed.  It was recognized by the Court that the treaty talks were conducted on government (often military) turf and that the interpreters were paid by the government.  Jones v Meehan (1899) and Tulee v Washington (1942) are landmark cases underscoring the admissibility of genuinely informed oral history in the Native context.
 
I close this little discourse thusly -- from my very large piece on Community Organizing:
 
"For my part, I have taught community organizing [while continuing my own organizing on the side] in every one of the far-flung colleges and universities at which I've sojourned.  While on some occasions, it's been an added dimension to a course formally on another topic, it's also been, in the main, as its very own course.  These have carried both undergraduate and graduate credit depending on the specific student.   And, of course, I've also taught it, as a working organizer, to grassroots people and other organizers as well -- in all sorts of workshops and conferences.
 
And, wherever I've taught community organizing, academic or grassroots or whatever, every single person -- bar none -- has wanted a practical, down to earth approach with as many personally experiential case histories of campaigns that I can provide. I cannot emphasize this strongly enough.  [This also includes the personal histories of various protagonists.]  And I do have a great many of these personal accounts -- and there are others who do as well.  At this juncture, I have several rich decades of them.
 
But faithfully remember: a really first-rate organizer / teacher always -- always -- learns much from his / her grassroots colleagues and classroom students.
 
And, although I have my own somewhat eclectic Vision and am not oblivious to theory [I got along nicely and profitably in Sociological Theory], I've never found theory by itself -- and certainly not heavy ideology -- to be especially interesting to those to and with whom I talk. That poses no problem for me.  The genuinely radical Southern poet, the late John Beecher, an old friend over many decades, commented approvingly and publicly of me that "he wears no man's collar."
 
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
 

PROGRESS -- A MOSTLY DEEP SOUTH TALE (HUNTER BEAR  AUGUST 17 2012)

 

In the final days of August, 1961, Eldri and I -- just married up in Superior, Wisconsin -- left my family home at Flagstaff, Arizona en route to Mississippi.  I had as my vehicle the 1957 Arizona champion drag strip car, a Chev Bell Air.  My brother had gotten that some way, couldn't keep up the payments, and Dad took it over.  Normally, a cautious driver, the racy vehicle with surrealistic designs on its doors, did something to him.  And he loved to drive it 90 mph in second gear -- and 120 in high. The term was not in vogue back in those days but people, including much impressed students of his, who witnessed this would certainly have noted it in our times as "awesome".  Before long, though, he got something else and passed the Champ on to me -- always a pretty sedate guy at the wheel.  We were pulling a long U-Haul trailer, covered by a tarp.
 
The closest I'd ever been to Dixie was extreme northwest Texas and northern Oklahoma.  It was clear, from central Texas onward, that it was going to be, for us anyway, an adventure: increasingly hot, humid; and vastly more Black people than I'd seen anywhere before, even in the Army.  My rural Northern Arizona accent -- sometimes termed "Highland South" by linguists -- seemed somewhat anemic compared to those we now began to hear.
 
Just inside the Louisiana line, on a conventional two lane highway, we stopped at a rural gas station.  The owner, who hustled over, was a rather heavy Anglo, maybe about 40. He was genial. His son, mid-teens, was sitting on a chair in front happily strumming a guitar.  It was a pleasant, folksy little scene.
 
When he had filled our tank and I was handing him cash, he asked where we were going.
 
"Jackson," I told him.
 
He nodded approvingly but -- but then went on with one of the cruder "jokes" I'd ever heard.  Smiling he said, "How in the Hell can the Kennedys get a man on the moon when they can't get a bus load of  n_____ers across Mississippi?" -- a reference to the Freedom Rides which had been much in the news earlier in the summer.
 
Poker faced, we said nothing, collected our change, and drove on.
 
At about 2 a.m., with mists rising like ghosts all around us, we hit the very long bridge across the very long and wide River -- pointed directly into Vicksburg, Mississippi.  At the end of the bridge, armed border guards wearing wide-brimmed hats, emerged from the darkness and looked us over carefully.  One pulled back the tarp on our trailer, checked the routine items inside.  Another asked, "Where y'all headed?"
 
This was not the point to say we were going to Tougaloo, the Negro college just north of Jackson, and that we thought we might well become involved in the incipient civil rights movement in the state.  Instead, pragmatically, and figuratively tossing my old Explorer Scout code into the river below, I muttered that we were going to Birmingham to see my uncle.  [And I did indeed have an uncle in that city.]
 
They collected a one dollar toll and with a pro forma, "Welcome to Miss-sippi," waved us into the Closed Society.
 
Tougaloo had promised us on-campus housing but that was filled up.  They found a temporary place for us on the edge of Lamar Avenue, near all-White Millsaps College, with a Black neighborhood right across the street.  But we were soon evicted from that a day after we had two Tougaloo students over for supper.  The college then found us another place, on a sort of almost low-income White street, Bailey Avenue.  We had Black friends over to that one but they slipped in and out at night.  Early on, the Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission began surveilling us, even following Eldri, who was pregnant with Maria, in a big white car with a long aerial when she walked up several blocks to a small grocery store.
 
Bailey Avenue saw the death one night of our Arizona Champ.  It was parked on level turf, right in front of our house.  We had gone to bed but, before I slipped off into sleep, I inexplicably arose, partially got dressed, and went out and put the car into neutral gear.  The emergency brake was rather poor but, as I've noted, everything was level turf.  Eldri was a little puzzled at my action, which I couldn't quite explain, but we were soon asleep.
 
We were awakened in the middle of the night by a very loud crash immediately outside.  Turned out that a drunk driver, coming up Bailey Avenue which was lined with parked vehicles, crashed directly into ours.  If it hadn't been in neutral, he would have been killed.  My car, smashed, was up on a neighbor's lawn.   We immediately replaced it with a brand new litle "robin's egg blue" AMC Rambler.  When we were at the junkyard to take a last fond look at the Champ, we were approached by a man from nearby Rankin County very closely resembling the years-later Boss Hogg of the Dukes of Hazard.  He was friendy, interested in the car's history, and I think he took the remains of the Champ for whatever purposes.
 
Quite soon after the Champ died, we had dinner at Tougaloo with good friends, the Zunes family.  I recited the events of that night and the small family -- John, Helen, and little Stephen -- listened raptly.  They found it all very strange.  But actually Eldri and I did not.
 
Soon thereafter, we moved on-campus.
 
The Blue Rambler itself died in a famous wreck -- a few days after Martin King and some of his advisors had ridden in it -- on June 18, 1963, on Hanging Moss Road on the north edge of Jackson.  It was totaled.  I was severely injured and almost killed, as was my colleague, Ed King. 
 
Much happened with us and everyone and everything else in the six years we spent in Dixie -- years forever contained deeply and pervasively within us.  Two of our four children were born there; and, almost twenty years later, in early January, 1981, our oldest son, John, was with me when we left the Navajo reservation in our big yellow Chev pickup -- with McKinley County, New Mexico plates -- for Jackson. There I was scheduled to do a very extensive oral history interview with Jon Jones of the State Department of Archives and History.  Normally, when coming from the west, we went to the Magnolia State by way of Oklahoma City and Memphis but this time we were taking the original trail that Eldri and I had followed so long before.  The conventional two lane had been replaced ages ago by an Interstate.
 
Just inside the Louisiana line, I glimpsed, through a few trees, a service station on the old, original road and pulled into it.  It didn't quite register until we were right close -- and I realized it was the same station of long, long ago.  It was a little more worn, as was the very same owner, who came, a little more slowly than before, to us.  His son and the guitar were obviously long gone.
 
The man was initially not genial, but rather cold.  John, closest to him, was 15 and we had a big feather hanging conspicuously from the inside mirror bracket. I don't think he really saw me that well or, at that point, noted my 45/70 Marlin lever action rifle in the cab's gun rack. (I only have very traditional firearms.) It occurred to me that he might think we were Hippies -- not always popular in the rural grassroots anywhere in those days.  He went to the back of our vehicle to fill it -- but there he had to see our bumper sticker, "MICMAC INDIANS TRAVEL MORE."
 
When he returned, this time to my window, he was extremely cordial.  And he asked, as he had almost twenty years before, where were we headed.
 
And, as per the old script, I said, "Jackson."
 
But there was no joke -- not this time, not now.
 
I gave him a friendly, cursory wave and, smiling, he reciprocated.  John and I drove on.
 
There were no guards on the Mississippi end of the long bridge.
 
Progress.
 
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]
 
 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

 
In The Mountains of Eastern Idaho, 2012.
 
[Hunter Gray has written and published numerous articles and essays on social justice and related issues.  He is the author of a book: Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism, 1979, 1987, 2011 -- with a new and substantial Introduction, and several extensive monographs.  Over the years, he has received various honors for his social justice work and teaching.  Among them is the 1989 annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for historical and contemporary social justice activities -- given by the North Dakota State King Commission and the Governor.  In 2005, he was honored with the Elder Achievement Award from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers.]
 
 
ANNOUNCEMENT NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR (NOVEMBER 2011):
 
The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of
Nebraska Press.
 
 
The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me: "On The River Of No Return."  This is, in many ways,  a large, additional chapter [about 9500 words] which up-dates Mississippi, discusses our family's always interesting experiences since the first edition of JM appeared in 1979, and contains supplemental autobiographical material.  And, of course, it also contains something of my reflections as a life-long social justice organizer.
 
The dedication: 
 
For Eldri and the Family -- truly a Golden Horde
 
And in memory of Doris and Ben Allison and Medgar Wiley Evers
 
 
Thus this will likely be my basic autobiographical memoir.  As a corollary to that, however, I must say that my health is fine.
 
The University of Nebraska Press is one of the largest university presses in the country.
 
Here is their announcement of Jackson, Mississippi:  (Click on the photo and it'll get bigger.)
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter Bear (Hunter Gray / John R. Salter, Jr.)
 

James Loewen  (author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and other works), November 9 2012:

 
Jackson, Mississippi presents a vivid insider's view of the Jackson boycott movement, the demonstrations that led to mass arrests, the actions of courageous young people, and the murder of Medgar Evers and the incredible tension of his funeral march.  As you would expect, given that Salter was and is a sociologist and a radical, it also contains penetrating analyses of the role of each acting group, including the national office of the NAACP, black ministers, the city government and police force, White Citizens Council, etc. And it shows the important role played by Tougaloo, some of its students and faculty members (including Prof. Salter), and its president, A. D. Beittel.
 
___________________
 

MARTIN LUTHER KING AND FOUR NATIVE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS -- INCLUDING MYSELF -- HONORED BY NATIONAL INDIAN GAMING ASSOCIATION  (INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, JANUARY 16, 2012)

 
Thanks very much indeed to Ernest Stevens, Jr. and NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) for honoring Dr King and the four Native civil rights activists and leaders. I'm greatly pleased to be included in this group, some of whom I've met and with whom I've worked at various points.  Hunter Gray (John R Salter, Jr)
 
 

 


 

 

 
MICMAC MAN  BY RICHARD M. SALTER AND A GREAT GIFT FROM ALICE M. AZURE

 

REPATRIATION SOLILOQUY [BY ALICE M. AZURE]

for Hunter Bear, Micmac Man
 
 
The moment I saw you in that eye-popping oil painting—
forty inches wide by forty-six inches tall,
fiery red background framing your cowboy hat,
brim drawn down, further shading sun-glassed eyes,
pipe clenched in the corner of bear-jaws,
denim jacket drawn open across the relaxed expanse
of your white-shirted torso, elbows jutted outside
the portrait’s border, open book balanced
in your right hand and
in the center of all this unnerving masculinity
sat two cups of your favorite drink, coffee—
that moment I knew I’d have to be the painting’s caretaker.
 
My husband’s lips tightened, face went ashen
as I paid the artist—your brother—his asking price.
Back home, the portrait, named Micmac Man,
got relegated to our basement den
 
where many nights I retreated,
beating my brains for understanding about why your image
should hold such sway upon my soul
like a Marlboro Cowboy gone amok,
sniffing the spoils of an unraveling animal—
easy hog-tying points.  Then
 
I remembered your classroom style and teachings—
a great oak, unperturbed by winds,
always fighting for grass roots people—
miners, migrants, Native Americans,
Black citizens caught up
 in the Jackson, Mississippi lunch counter boycotts.
Your family life bespoke a discipleship
of which I was incapable. 
Thank God your detachment
from academic indoctrination
 
led me to ancient stories of Migoum’agi—
land of the Micmac—
how Kesoulk made Glous’gap, who, in turn taught the People
to thrive in a new creation.       
Faintly I began to hear the sweet notes of a flute’s song
nudging me towards that same country—beckoning me to
another beginning.  One day I left
the material comforts of my home, your portrait in tow.
 
For nearly a decade your image hung central in my homes
from Rock Island to Washington, DC and back to Chicago.
I called you a “marriage spoiler,”
for in your exalted position over my couch,
male visitors seemed to squirm, uneasy with
my MITH—man in the house,  
quintessential Indian Cowboy,
favorite professor,
clear-sighted justice worker—
all rolled into my inner MYTH of masculine psychology.
 
One man—Alec Azure—wasn’t fazed.
He knew you as a compassionate friend,  
was one of many who accompanied you on visits
to Fort Madison Penitentiary’s Indian prisoners.
 
After we wed, he mildly suggested
the dominant red of your portrait’s fine image
could brighten the interior of NAES College’s
 fire-renovated white-drabness.
 Opting for domestic harmony,
I donated you away to the college—
hung Micmac Man high in the central stairwell
where all of us who worked there daily passed
under your confident, laid-back calm.
 
After Alec passed to spirit—after I left the college’s employ, 
your portrait was removed down to the archives,
where you stayed until a decade later
when the time of your repatriation at last  arrived.
 
It wasn’t easy getting you out of that place
with me then living in southeastern Connecticut.
My Chicago friends—mostly women—said they’d help.
In the dark of night,
your portrait strangely astir,
they carried you out of NAES,
detached the canvass from its frame
staple by rusted staple,
rolled you up in bubble wrap
and sent you on your way
over interstate roads from Chicago to Pocatello.
 
Maybe it was a multiplier effect
of good medicine unleashed
by a web-based tribute from your friends—
students, colleagues, comrades-in-arms, family and the rest,
hundreds banded together—
that led to your release from that dark storage, from
the near lethal grip of Systemic Lupus.       
 
On the other hand, as you once suggested,
your own Bear Medicine unrolled its Power,
returned you and Micmac Man to where you belong,
front and center in that place you now sit—
will always sit—
among family and friends, enjoying camaraderie
and those cups of early morning coffee.
 


 
Alice M. Azure
Maryville, IL 62062

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

 COMMENT:
 
FROM JOHN SALTER [BEBA]:
 
That's a fine piece, really captures the essence of your experience.
 
Thanks for including my little paragraph.
 
I don't like the fact that this seems like a kind of summation.  But maybe I'm reading too much into it.
 
J.S.
 
AND MY [HUNTER'S] RESPONSE:
 
Thanks, Beba.  I can always use a good word -- especially these days when I do feel boxed in.  Don't
worry.  That piece is not my obit -- just another River stop-over on a sand bar.  [The obit is your job.]
 

Best,  D [Dad]

 
____________________________________________________________________________________

 

AND NOW TO IDAHO [HUNTER GRAY /  HUNTER BEAR]  MARCH 29 2008
 
 
Idaho State University, based here at Pocatello, is about an average sized state higher ed school -- maybe about 12,000 students [including part-timers.] Like too many academic institutions these days, it's chary of "controversy" and has a variety of veiled measures to "keep that out."  After our almost eleven years here, ISU -- or at least certain administrative quarters thereof -- continues to quietly block any official speaking appearances by me. I've been the featured speaker at a number of signal events in this region -- some really pretty "respectable" --  and have been interviewed a number of times by thoughtful and respectful media folks.  A little over a year ago, ISU let it slip that, in their opinion, I'm "too radical."  Anyway, their social justice stuff is not especially stirring. I will say that both Josie and Thomas got a good academic foundation at ISU. She is an LSW social worker, he's now on the brink of his fourth year of med school at University of Minnesota [Minneapolis.]
 
But, of course, they got their social justice from Our Family.
 
Well, ISU can't keep everyone out.  Regional tv news have all reported that yesterday, three -- three -- mountain lions visited the campus, just looking around.  It's a little unusual to have three in an entourage, but likely the lions felt they needed a little protection-in-numbers during their stroll in the Groves of Academe.  This campus investigation by the Big Kitties created a stir.  Untroubled by that,  the lions eventually and in leisurely fashion wandered back into the wild open country .
 
Can't say I blame them for leaving. Most likely they felt the place was just too damn tame. Might have even thought it was a caged zoo.
 
Yours, H
 
COMMENT:
 
DALE JACOBSON:
 
Yeah, Hunter, you nailed it! I can certainly understand
why they would want to travel in a small squad. Their
sense of solidarity is evidence of a good sense academics
generally lack, though the latter are not reluctant to
join together as a rabble against the wild imagination that can see the world beyond. I have a little poem:

A Canadian thistle
on the university campus!

There's hope.

Among my best friends have been the cats I've known.
The 18th century poet, Christopher Smart, has a long lovely poem in praise of his cat. Dale
 
_____________________________________________
 
PETER GRAY SALTER:
 
No lions in Lincoln.
 
But on a bike ride today, I almost passed a beaver; it was running down the old railbed that's been turned into a bike trail. Damn thing turned on a dime just as I was building enough speed to overtake it.
 
And I almost collided with a deer on another trail that seemed to be as surprised to see me as I was surprised to see it.
 
And yesterday -- in the same area -- a woman was hospitalized after a wild turkey crashed through her windshield.
 
Later  [Peter]

___________________________________________________

COLLOQUY WITH BOB GATELY  [AUGUST 16 2008]

 

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:

Federally sponsored "things"  of hostile nature never cease to flow forth.
This [recent Justice Departments proposal] appears to be the latest effort to deepen and broaden government
intrusion into the lives of our -- and other -- citizens.  Speaking
personally, we ourselves have noted many tangible signs of this, directed
against us, since we returned to the Mountain West  and began living here in
Idaho eleven years ago.  For our outline and interpretation of some of this,
see http://www.hunterbear.org/duel_in_the_shadows.htm

Just a few examples: my oldest son, John, coming here with his kids for a
visit, will always remember the cops who suddenly appeared 'way up here
almost immediately following his arrival -- and our youngest son, Peter,
recalls the more recent situation where he and I were followed around town
and finally into the Perkins restaurant by an obvious plainclothes type -- 
where Peter and I discussed intra-family business.  More troubling has been
interference with computers, telephones, conventional mail, and the presence
of night-time lurkers on our grounds.

This general national situation has been, obviously, greatly encouraged by
the Democratic cave-in on  FISA.

This is the sort of thing that that reminds some of us very much, as it has
for the past several years, of the '50s and '60s. Now, watching the current
lopsided United States media coverage of the Russian/Georgian situation and
its running discussion of the old "Eastern Menace", one certainly doesn't
need to look at re-runs of Lawrence Welk and Andy Griffith to get a nice [if
troubling] slice of nostalgia pie.

H.


Note by Hunter Bear:
 

I often feel restless these days -- maybe a sign of slowly improving
health. And, in that context, I occasionally toy with the idea of breaking
my computer/website ties for a more physically active warrior life.  But
health improvement notwithstanding, I'll certainly keep at the Cyber
thing -- and do other justice things as well.  Bob's letter is strong
encouragement for that.  He is a member  of two of our discussion lists,
hangs out primarily in the Phoenix setting but gets around Arizona and, a
few years ago, worked his own ore "prospect hole" near remote Bagdad [that's
the Arizona spelling] where, in the cool of the night, the ground was
covered with green rattlesnakes.  His late father was an International Rep.
for the old Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers -- not only a great union in
every respect, but also a literal social justice Movement in its own right.
And Bob is certainly much into good causes himself. Thanks, Bob, for good
and timely words!

Solidarity -

Hunter

 From Bob:
Indeed, Hunter, my thanks to you for all the inspiration your posts
engender, they are a daily visit from a muse I have come to respect for the
truths I would be ignorant of except for you.

Norman Mailer in his book, "Ancient Evenings" said it best through a
character that, "Our love follows those who would take us to a place we
could not get to without them." You have taken me to places through your
life experiences that I have come to love and look forward to as we slog
through the news of these days. It is a true blessing that we have this
awesome internet medium to communicate through and that I believe has
overcome your difficult dis-ease and made you an icon  for what it means to
be immortal.  Your writings, both scholarly and personally will insure your
place in the history of American, Native and otherwise history a true man of
letters in our times. That I found you in a search for my father's history
is proof positive that the messenger will   arrive at the precise moment
when you most need the message that liberates you from the doubts that fog
your thinking. There is indeed a Great Spirit that enthuses our
correspondence and I will, to my last breath, give thanks for the blessing
of your company.

Our Arizona bloodlines are strong and relevant.  Sycamore Canyon is a
metaphor for the mysterious forces that challenge
us physically and psychically.  Your early confrontation in the canyon with
that bear did indeed prepare you for the life you were destine  to live.
That the sacrifice of the bear in service to  your survival is a deep
reminder that every confrontation in life will demand an appropriate
response, a timely response to the matter of the moment.  Fight or flight is
an emotional argument that can only be resolved in the moment of
confrontation. Eh ?

Here in the Valley of the Sun we are severely distressed by the plight of
our returning veterans and how our so called society will deal with their
PTSD .  Our war weary warriors must not be left to wander in the streets as
we left our Viet era warriors too.
That is the concerns of my days and we pray the medicine of our ideas can
play a part in their healing from the scars of this
idiotic war. More on that later.

With best wishes and hope that we are still a force for change,

Bob Gately

As a child growing up in Riverside California in the 1940's I remember well
the guys, the FBI guys that would come to our neighborhood asking about my
father, William Bill Gately and if anyone had seen him lately. I would sit
on the stoop watching them watching me as they took their notes in the 41
Ford Coupe they traveled in. To my Mom and me these guys were a joke...If
you do find the ole man tell him to come home and feed his family, the Union
be damned.

As is recorded in my old mans FBI file that my dearly departed brother,
William Thomas Gately secured from a Freedom of Information request, they
followed Bill Gately for some 26 years till his demise in Denver in 1963
with never a case being made that he was a threat to the security of the
United States of America. Reading these convoluted documents, many signed by
Himself, J. Edger Hoover, we see the utter, ridiculous ends our governments
alleged watchdogs went to make a case that was not a case at all but a witch
hunt that produces nothing at all but an excuse to keep these agents un
gainfully employed.

(Sigh) That these here and now witch hunt's are continuing is a testament to
the bureaucratic bullshit that infects our American body politics. It raises
the question, what are we citizens to do when the force of our government
target you, just another citizen with doubts about their activities to
promote participation by citizens in the real concerns for our right to
pursue life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the events of our
times. I would caution our Federal Officers to stop and consider that it is
their family's history's and the participation of their ancestors (IRA, et
al) in the progress of this nation to stand as a beacon to the rest of the
world and follow their conscience in reporting on the dissidents who are
truly engaged in questioning the acts foisted upon them by the imperial
presidency that seeks to suppress our expressions of what is right and
proper for our continuing evolution as a nation.

As an American of 100% Irish ancestry, I am appalled by the acts of the
Irish Americans in our government institutions that allow King George the
Second to usurp our rights as citizens to protest our present situation vis
a vi our participation in the most important decisions of our times. Shame
on you, shame on our FBI, CIA, NSA and the many alleged homeland security
agency's that are wasting their time on spying on us in the name of ,
"national security". When Indeed will our so called, Security Agents turn
their attention back to the real threats that endanger our nation ? While
they fight their un-winnable war on terrorism, drugs, illegal immigrants,
poverty and such we backwoods Americans face a more insidious adversary, our
own governments apathy towards our future well being in a world that would
eat our lunch for their own well being. The tomorrow of America rests in the
actions of today, no doubt about it, national security depends on the
actions taken today
by not the politicians who are in the pockets of their campaign contributors
but the citizens who act in conscience to address the real problems that
inform their days. We pray they are listening. If the FBI is truly our
security agency just whose security are they enabling ?

Bob Gately

cowboysonmars.com is coming back to earth at the speed of light...Welcome
aboard


Your words are indeed a blessing, Hunter Bear, I never know from where my
words flow but trust that they hit the target they are intended for.  That
you acknowledge them is enough to empower me to continue speaking for what
we believe is as the right course of action in our times. You are indeed a
great Muse, I do respect that you speak back to me as an equal and will, as
you will ,to speak to the issues of these times. Lupus be damned, your words
are a healing balm...Don't throw our the baby with the bathwater...

Bob

COMMENT BY HUNTER BEAR:

We will fight on, always -- forever,  forever.

H.

 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

 
I have always lived and worked in the Borderlands.
Our Hunterbear website is now eleven years old..
Check out http://hunterbear.org/directory.htm
 
See - Personal and Detailed Background Narrative:
http://hunterbear.org/narrative.htm
 
See - The Stormy Adoption of an Indian Child (my father)
http://hunterbear.org/James%20and%20Salter%20and%20Dad.htm
 
And check out Elder Recognition Award (from Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers:
http://www.hunterbear.org/elder_recognition_award_for_2005.htm
 

 

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