I am an elder and a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life trying to make sense of the world. Being an outsider can be lonely sometimes, but oh, what treasures can be found in most unexpected places. Without question one of my life’s greatest blessings came when I reached out for understanding and came to know a remarkable Native American warrior hidden in a world of his own. For nine years, I had the privilege to be both friend and advocate for Ghost Dancer, a remarkably wise and kind elder in federal prison. Over time Ghost began to reveal details of his life and his wrongful conviction, even asking my assistance in filing pro se legal motions as he continued his fight for justice from within the prison walls. The more I learned, the more I came to understand the full extent of his story and realized the importance that not only his wise teachings but also his life journey and struggles with injustice within the justice system be shared with the world.
Ghost Dancer – Known as a “gentle giant,” a wise elder, teacher, artist, and keeper of the old ways, Ghost has a deep understanding of the spiritual and cultural traditions of the Southeastern Native Peoples, as well as the Lakota Sioux and other western tribal People. Little by little over the course of years of my friendship with him, Ghost has shared bits and pieces of his life story, but much he kept to himself. Then in 2020, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, with his health in a shambles, Ghost wrote pro se motions to the courts that convicted him asking for compassionate release. A year later, after multiple near-death health crisis episodes, Ghost was finally granted release from prison. After gaining his freedom in late 2021, Ghost agreed to tell his story. From the very beginning, Ghost’s biographical work, ALL FOR THE RIGHT TO PRAY takes the reader chapter by chapter through the course of this one man’s lifelong struggles to just be himself and live peacefully in a world where he knew even in childhood that he was “out of time, out of place.” Ghost Dancer’s story is both a revelation of the sheer evil that can negatively impact a person’s life as well as testament to the power of Spirit to give them the strength and helpers to triumph over it. From his world behind prison walls, GHOST’S SACRED PATH honors his Muskogee and Ani-Yun-Wiya ancestors as he shares a lifetime of fascinating stories, wisdom and thoughts to uplift us all and help us grow in our understanding of traditional Native beliefs and life ways.
In 2019, Ghost introduced me to another Native American inmate, Walks On The Grass. Walks’ life journey was entirely different but compelling and insightful in it’s own way. What the two had in common was their love of heritage and the practice of traditional Native American religious ceremony as a means of healing, teaching and surviving in the dark and hostile world of the “iron house” where Native inmates are the smallest minority. It is my personal honor to give both these two beautiful people voice to share their stories in “Journeys of the Spirit.”
Walks On The Grass – Readers will be riveted to each Chapter of LONG ROAD HOME as this delightfully warm and talented man shares an honest and compelling account of his amazing journey. From the first line, “I was born broken,” Walks navigates a path filled with bumps, boulders and wrong turns in search of wholeness. Through the grounding of songs, prayers and ceremony in the Inipi, traditional Lakota sweat lodge, and the support of wise elders and teachers, Walks gradually comes home to his true self. You won’t want to miss it. The fascinating story continues in ALONG THE WAY, a post script to Walks’ spiritual journey discussing in short essays, experiences, insights & humor on the “Long Road Home.” Finally, as Walks sees his long years in federal prison coming to an end, he shares each step of preparing himself for a new life outside those prison walls in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.