It wasn’t much after the interview that I was granted a transfer to FCI Coleman, Florida, closer to home or “nearer release,” a bureau-speak way to say closer to where you’re from. My mom was getting older and becoming more and more reliant on my brother, Mike. I had not seen Mom since my trial, so I wanted to be where I could maybe see her one more time before she passed beyond sorrow. She had been given a wheelchair and an oxygen supply by this time and we all knew it wasn’t going to be too many more years before she left us.
I was transferred and arrived in Coleman FL, FCI Medium in April of 2005. It was wonderful to me; the sweat lodge grounds were beautiful with trees and plants and a gazebo to keep us out of the sun and rain if we wanted. The gate was always unlocked and we were allowed to go out and just be in the area anytime the yard was open. It was truly a paradise compared to some of the places I had been. The brothers were all fine people for the most part and we had a really good group. We would come together and cook meals over the little fire pit and just all in all enjoy the fellowship. The band rooms and music program there were excellent as well and it wasn’t long before I was singing with a band and jamming a couple times a week.
August 2006 came and I was very excited that my brother was planning to bring my mom up to see me. She had to have a note from her doctor in order to get into the prison with her oxygen unit and wheelchair, so there would be several days before I was to receive my visit.
Then out of the blue I was paged over the prison loudspeaker system to report to the unit counselor’s office. It was after hours and I was kinda curious as to what the heck she could possibly want. My counselor’s name was Ms. Bates. She was a typical “entitled” federal employee who didn’t want to do anything for anybody. Usually she was out on the front unit porch smoking cigarettes all shift. She was so bad the fellas all called her “Ashtray Bates.”
Anyway, when I got there and asked if she needed to see me she said, “Yes, sign this so your mother can be cremated.”
I was blown away! I had just talked to my mom the day before and we were both excited about the upcoming visit. I demanded to know what the hell she was talking about.
“Well,” she said, “Your mother is dead and you’re the oldest living relative in the state, so you have to sign before they can do the cremation. Your brother wants you to sign and I need to be getting out of here.”
I will never forget those words. I refused to sign until I had talked to my brother. That is when I found out my mom had passed; my brother Mike found her when he went to check on her in the morning on his way to work.
Later that week my older brother, Bob and his wife came with Mike to see me there in Coleman for a couple hours. They were in Florida for the service and the spreading of the ashes. I was not allowed to attend.
Ms. Bates didn’t get home till after 10 pm that night, I was just too shook to sign anything and I hope it inconvenienced her. What a way to tell a person that their mother had passed away. Please believe me, some of these people are heartless and the indignities and inhumane treatment that they heap upon men in these places is untellable.
The next day I went to see the chaplain who made the arrangements for me and a few of the brothers I was closest with to hold a special pipe ceremony. After the ceremony I cut off all my hair to be burned in the fire of the next sweat lodge that weekend. Had it not been for the brothers, the sweat lodge, the sacred area and the ability to spend so much time in prayer and contemplation I don’t know if I would have made it thru that time of sorrow and loss. I miss my mom every day and can still hear her talking to me in my head at times.
When All is Said and Done – Still There is Music in My Head
I have always been a music lover, ever since I was a kid. I remember my brother, Bob giving me a couple albums for Christmas one year, maybe 1970 or 71; they were Carol King, Tapestry and Jethro Tull, Aqualung. I won’t lie and say The Tull was my favorite of the 2 because I tended to like the textures and use of the softer voices, and while the rock and hard rock was cool, it was in no way all I liked.
Then I saw Alice Cooper on Don Kirshner’s Rock Concert. It was still a big deal to be up that late and when seeing this crazy man with the snakes and the hanging and the guillotine, all stage show but with music that was really good and really loud, I was hooked. That was the year that I changed, mentally and emotionally. I was 12 years old, entering the rebellion that is puberty. I discovered Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix, and the Doobie Brothers, all to the tune of a summer of excitement and desire to be a “rock ‘n roller” and in a band.
Man, I had it bad. I tried guitar, not enough hand dexterity; drums, not enough co-ordination, but once I settled on singing and discovered that it was the lead singers in the bands that generally got all the girls, this became my mission in life. So I began looking for likeminded youngsters to form a band. With what equipment, I don’t know, I didn’t have an amp or a P.A. to sing thru, but that was a small problem for down the road. For several years the hairbrush and the bathroom mirror were my training. Amazingly enough I had a pretty good voice and it got better as I got older. By the time I was 15, singing was definitely my main objective, everything else was secondary to my drive for a band.
So finally I found a few guys that were into it and they had this cool band named “Rasas.” Jiminy, were we bad! We practiced in the drummer’s basement. His parents wouldn’t allow him to move his drum set for some reason. Finally we got our first gig, it was to be a teen dance at the very same middle school I had attended till I got thrown out of the 8th grade. Now it’s roughly 2 years later and I’m no wiser, just a little wilder for real. We had some hokey songs we had halfway learned. Can’t even remember what they were, I think one was called “Midnight Ride,” can’t remember by who. Anyway, we played this dance and the money we got for it went to pay for the P.A. we had rented to play in the first place. The real bonus was being in a high school battle of the bands the next night. I’m sure we didn’t win, but I think we did okay. That was my first taste of really singing in front of people.
Now its 45 years later and I’m still in love with music. I still love to sing and have written many songs over the years. I can’t even remember all the different bands I’ve been in. Some of them were really cruddy, but the memories of a few I truly cherish were definitely record label worthy bands with all original music and songs. The talent in these places you would not believe; the caliber of musicians goes from the 3 chord geniuses to the neo classical heavy metal guitar virtuoso and unknown vocal phenomenon’s such as…you know, me.
Yeah, I’m tooting my own horn, but why not? I’ve been perfecting my vocal abilities for 45 years and I can honestly say I’ve gotten darn good at what I do. I love the upper register vocal gymnastics and can go there with relative ease, all in the vein of Robert Plant, Rob Halford and Geoff Tate, but my wheelhouse is predominantly the Ozzy type stuff with the bluesy rock stuff as a sidecar. I’m not ever gonna stop loving music and just hope to be able to sing as long as I live. After all I’ve still got a lot of, Man, we would have never believed you could sing like that in a million years!!! left to be heard. Got a lot of songs to write too. I don’t know where they all come from. I just know sometimes I can feel ‘em rollin’ around in my brain like a bb in a soup bowl, then I’ll be doing something else and boom! they just appear and I try to get them to paper as fast as possible before they fade like a chimera into oblivion. and there it is, long live rock…
In 2000, three years after I arrived in Phoenix, I paroled to my home. Shortly before my release, my wife of 12 years died of cancer. She was the love of my life and in that frame of mind, I just wasn’t trying to live, looking for any way out short of suicide though that thought had crossed my mind. Immediately I was off and running, a fugitive from the very moment I was released, the drugs and booze all over again and not a second’s shame did I feel or any regret. I was one pitiful, sad man and began robbing again to support my being on the run. Let me tell you, there is nothing romantic about being a wanted man. It’s a world of constant paranoia and worry, not a moment went by that I could relax and be at peace. My soul was screaming out for healing and help from the Creator, but all this was, as I know, my own fault, my own doing.
I caught another set of charges, bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during the commission of a felony. The old pattern was right back again. So I got caught and was sentenced to 27 years for my stupidity. Back to the joint I came, this time with what I figured would be for life since I was 40 at the time and couldn’t imagine sitting here today 21 years later writing this.
My first stop was back to the medium custody level I had released from, a blessing. I had developed some serious health issues and shortly was sent to Butner Medical Center, NC for treatment. It was a very nice spot with the exception that they had a unit dedicated to the sexual offenders program. It was very hard to avoid problems with these men. They all knew that they were “protected” and all they had to do was lodge a complaint, true or unfounded and the staff would get rid of you. I stayed low, under the radar. Then more loss, my sister to cancer really hurt, and then both my dad and step dad; all three passed beyond sorrow within a year’s time. In the spring of 2003, I was well enough to transfer to FCI Edgefield, SC.
When I arrived at Edgefield, lo and behold there was one of the men I knew from my years in Lewisburg Penitentiary and he was the spokesman for the Native American group. Little joe was a good guy. He was able to smooth the path for me into the circle and I began going to the sweat lodge right away. I must say there were no dry sweats at Edgefield or any of the intensity of that first sweat in Phoenix. That one still is the hottest sweat ceremony I have ever undergone.
I was reasonably content there at Edgefield, but when a notice went out that the staff was taking volunteers to go and open a brand-new facility, FCI Gilmer, West Virginia, I immediately put in for this opportunity. This was the fall of 2003 and when I got there I was amazed how few men were there. At that time only 300 men had been sent to Gilmer and the place was pretty much vacant. They had whole housing units that were not even open yet, and when I arrived at my assigned unit, the officer told me to go find a cell and tell him what number it was.
The next day I went to the chapel to find out where the sweat lodge was and who the pipe carrier was. That’s when I had my first contact with Sister P., a Catholic lay sister serving as the chaplain. The good sister was as outright anti-Native as anyone I have ever met. When I asked about the sweat lodge, a professional would have explained that the place being so new they were still working on meeting our needs. Rather, the tone of her voice openly displayed her distaste, “Oh, we don’t have one of those.” Then I asked about the pipe; got the same answer. So finally I asked about smudging to get all the negativity off the transfer and off of me. Without a word, she went inside the religious services center, locking me out to stand on the front doorstep. A little while later she reappeared with an abalone shell with some sage in it. I asked for matches and a discussion ensued:
“Oh no,” she said, “You can’t light it.”
“But I must light it to have smoke for smudging!”
“Well, just kind of wave it around, that ought to work.”
“That will not work!” I handed it back. This was all I could take. “Sister,” I said, “Within six months you will have a lodge for me to have ceremony in.”
A fire was lit that day – the spark to fight for Native rights!
I went back to my housing, straight to my counselor and asked for an administrative remedy form. I filed a grievance against the chaplain and the institution’s administration including the warden and all subordinates, for religious discrimination, religious insensitivity, and unprofessional ethics, all centered around the congressional resolution for religious beliefs and practices by committed offenders within federal custody, as well as the religious land use act, a federal mandate.
Needless to say I was now the anti-star of their new prison and their little prison hierarchy. Finally, after a few strained meetings, the prison administration agreed to let me pick out the area for the sweat lodge next to the recreation yard and measure off the proscribed 25-foot square allotted for the Native American sweat lodge area as well as an additional 25-foot square adjoining for the “other” religious groups that needed space outdoors for the practice of their beliefs – the Wiccans, the Asatru and the Santería – all this in exchange for dismissing my grievance and complaint.
So, being the natural negotiator I am – a basic survival skill in prison – I also got a pipe order and some other things we would need eventually, like a thousand-dollar big drum and sticks, tarps and the promise of willows in the spring so that I could finally build the lodge. Now by this time some other Natives had arrived. They all got together and elected me the spokesman for the Native American group, an undertaking I came to regret, yet on the whole I was good at it and have since been in the same position several times in other facilities.
The important point is that it was necessary to go against the entire administration to get the rights I knew I were guaranteed in the first amendment of the constitution, arguing and claiming all along that just because I was in prison didn’t mean I wasn’t allowed to practice the religious beliefs of my choice.
But the story was not over. In the interceding time we finally got the sweat lodge built but were not allowed to use it due to them needing to build a fence to keep us contained in the area and unable to go between the housing units to the inner area at the front of the facility.
Now let me tell you how I did indeed get the first sweat lodge ceremony, even before they had the fence built. It was the middle of October, I had just gotten out of the hole for a fight I got into with a guy from Ohio over a paltry sum of money he owed me but was not paying up. Anyway, I get out of the hole, and a couple days later we have our outside sponsors from the area come into the prison for a visit in the chapel. While we are there one of the visitors tells me how good it was to see that I was out of the hole. She went on to tell me all the Sister had told her – that I was in the hole for brutally beating a man and that I was a dangerous and violent man.
Yes, I was really mad, but a fight is a fight, not a bloodbath, and while it wasn’t nice it was merely a fight. While I was in the hole, an investigation was going on – a federal investigation since the fight was on federal property. Also, in revealing any information about me without my signed release, the chaplain was in violation of the Freedom of information/right to privacy act.
So once again, I went and got an administrative remedy request and filed a grievance asking for the Sister to be fired and indicted on criminal charges in the matter since it is a criminal violation to breach a federal investigation, or to release information about a federal inmate to the general public unless it is a matter of public information. Boy did that strike a nerve! Once again the administration decided to negotiate. They said they would assign an officer to our area and let the two spiritual advisors and medicine men come in to consecrate the sweat lodge and area and let us have a sweat lodge ceremony if I would dismiss the charges. I agreed, but with the stipulation that the Sister be made to undergo re-training and apologize to me in front of the outside sponsors for her inaccurate and malicious slandering of my name and character.
It was a cold, snowy day in November and the cop assigned to the area that day for the inaugural sweat was stomping his feet and mad as all get out when he was informed that he must stay on the outskirts of the area and not to come near the fire or the firepit while the ceremony was being conducted. Sometimes it’s good to have a bargaining chip. I dismissed that remedy as well. As for Sister P’s apology, well, I never got that, but we got our sweat and she got a weeks training with pay. For the rest of my time at Gilmore, the good Sister took a different tone with me. . . “Mr. Maisenbacher. . . what can I do for you?“
While and during all these skirmishes, somehow word got out that I was battling the federal prison administration. I was asked by a reporter for Vice magazine if I would consider doing an interview over this “struggle” and my fights as a federal prisoner in securing Native American rights while incarcerated. I did this interview in 2005.
Interpretive Exhibit Piece Designed and Created by Ghost Dancer
Creation and Interpretation
Ceremonial Cleansing with Tobacco and Cedar Smudge As the smoke from the smudge passed over the disk, it was charged with the intent of clearing negativity and bringing in positive vibrations with the blessing.
Blessing of the Disk in the Mvskoke Way Invoking the power of the Mother Earth, and all her gifts, I ask the Spirit of Light to guide me. I call upon you to bless this disk so that it helps educate, invigorate, and bring everyone to enjoy, respect, and love the Mvskoke Way.
Respect for the Mvskoke Way One of the core beliefs of the Mvskoke is RESPECT. Interpreting the disk allows everyone a different view and a different opinion. This is what Mvskoke see in every life. We respect everyone’s point of view, we respect what everyone else believes; there is no wrong belief, because it belongs to you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. So the disk says it is whatever you see it to be! I am Mvskoke; I live by respect for all life. This beaded disk is my interpretation of ancient symbolism passed down through the ages from the mound builders through Mvskoke traditions.
Blue, the predominant color, symbolizes air and water which are male and female; water being female, air being male; above and below. Blue also represents the direction, north. Balance must be in everything!
Neckpiece made from traditional materials – bone, antler, and shell.
The Red & White Spiral Star:
The red & white colors represent the red stick & white stick peoples being in balance. We all have the characteristics of both inside of us; we need this to balance ourselves.
White represents love, peace, learning, calm compromising, mediation, gentleness, compassion, balance, spiritual searching, and enlightenment.
Red represents activity, energy, action, anger/love, loyalty, honor, blood, protectiveness, and duty.
We are all warriors in these matters. Some are more of the character of one than the other and we even fight this battle within ourselves each day. This is why sometimes you are a redstick and sometimes you are a white stick! We need to be both at times as well. Both are always needed.
The red and white disk has 9 rows representing the 9 Major Clans of the Mvskoke. They are designed a little off because the imperfect work itself represents humility and is meant to show that no one is better than the other and to signify our humbleness to the Creator. The disk sits below the Horned Winged Serpent and the Horned Mask showing that the People look for help and protection by asking the Horned Winged Serpent.
The Horned Winged Serpent
The winged Serpent has many colors. Each color represents specific things that are female and male energies:
White symbolizes purity, peace, balance, love, gentleness, song, and spirituality.
Red represents the sun: fire, life, action, protectiveness, and love.
Then there is the black & red in the serpent’s belly representing life, death, and renewal; the war within ourselves.
The Horned winged serpent has the antlers of the deer representing gentleness with wisdom and awareness. We listen to the deer for they teach us to pay attention, to be cautious, to watch out for dangers and signs and teach us to move gently in this world. the antlers are a prize for all hunters, whether they are hunting food, plants, stones, minerals, spiritual enlightenment or even love, or people.
The serpent’s wings represent the air and messengers. The eagle feathers in the wings are a symbol of peace and love, loyalty, justice, compassion
Colors and their meanings:
The white represents purity, love, balance, and peace.
The yellow represents corn mother, sunlight, and life.
Red, the color of blood, represents love, action, energy, and life.
Black is the color of death, the moon, the spirit trail, and the Milky Way. Even in death success is there in the connection to the earth and defeating the dark side in us.
Green is the color of prosperity, success, and fruitfulness.
The horned winged serpent is a good luck medicine to all hunters and those who look for love as well.
So this Horned Wing Serpent is truly one of balance; it represents all these different characters and energies!
But wait! Look at its mouth; its red tongue is sticking out and it is reaching to the Horned Mask!
The Horned Mask
So the Horned Winged Serpent is breathing; blowing power into the Horned Mask with all the understandings of balance: peace, love, compassion, humility, sacredness, blood, life, loyalty, sacrifice, discipline, and action.
Now, look at the mask. Notice the red & white balances; opposites on each side. Notice that it, too, has horns, antlers. The antlers are blended in colors from brown to golden to yellow. Brown is the earth, golden is the sun, corn pollen and honey. Yellow, the corn mother and life itself!
The mask has yellow ears to hear the voice of corn mother. The brown color is bark of the water oak from which the mask is made. Water oak is the tree of life of the people with roots running deep into the Earth Mother.
Notice the gar teeth in the mask. These are the scratching teeth used in rites of passage, discipline, and other ceremonial rites.
Hidden in Plain Sight: Hints on finding some hidden images and symbols within the design:
The disk, itself, has the shape of the human head.
Above and below encompasses the mindset of the world and the universe in the mind of the Mvskoke.
In the Clouds:
Gift of the serpent breathing life into the horned mask.
Tree of life in the clouds
The different moons that were so important to us.
The states of Florida, Georgia and Alabama all connected touching each other on the left side in the clouds.
Mound on the right side in the clouds.
See the fluffy rabbit? Rabbit is important to us. He is the trickster in many of our traditional stories.
In the Water:
The All Seeing Eye in the water at the bottom on the left.
The four directions in the water.
A mermaid as people would call them now. We call them, water people.
The State of Florida
This disk is all about teaching the fundamentals of the Mvskoke Peoples’ way of life, our beliefs, understandings, and our connection to everything in the universe, understanding how much each matters to the other. Whether we are of Mvskoke heritage or not, in order to understand and even experience the true traditions of the People, it is important for us to pay attention to these teachings.
Just as the serpent breathes life into the mask, so do we breathe power into things when we do medicine. Traditionally, a Mvskoke medicine person uses river cane to blow power into the medicine, the patient, or medicine bundles for healing. Even ceremonial drinks, purges, teas, or water, all must have a medicine person blow power, life into them.
Every symbol of our art has meaning and is intended to help us connect to everything and everyone around us; plants, stones, animals, fish, reptiles, winged ones, star people, and Mother Earth. Everything that is in the universe we should feel, reach out to and protect, nourish, love, and enjoy. We must reach inside of ourselves and touch the inner child, the adolescent, the adult, and the elder. This disk is the past, present, and future of our Sacred Way.
All of these goals and characteristics given to the People are embodied in the concepts of the Four Elements: Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, the Four Directions, Female and Male, and the Four Stages of Life: Infant, Adolescent, Adult, and Elder.
NOTE: I know many people have different colors that they use to represent different directions, even amongst the Mvskoke people and teachers. All I can use is what I have been taught and shown by my spirit helpers and elders of the Mvskoke who personally taught me.
Iwas born broken. Simple fact of the matter is my biological mother was a cocaine addict throughout her pregnancy and having this be the fact, she gave birth to a baby addicted to cocaine. She was so concerned for her “baby” she gave me away for adoption at birth.
Thank the Creator for my adoptive parents. My new mom gave me her love and the first milk I ever ingested not long after my birth. It took a full year for me to stop screaming in rage when I was put down, something about being a cokehead infant made me want to be, no demand to be held.
Scoot ahead to kindergarten, I had always been a problem, wandering off in crowds, hiding in department stores, even walked out of a grocery store, got into a lady’s car and told her to take me for a ride. I was sending my mom into fits almost every other hour. Wasn’t a tree I didn’t climb or a neighbor’s house I didn’t just appear in and make myself at home. I guess the scariest thing I did as a toddler was to somehow make my way unseen across a busy highway. I got through a fence and into a pasture to pet the horsey. The owner spotted something moving in the distance and came running thinking I might be a coyote after his new colt. Good thing he didn’t shoot first.
Crazy, and all this by 5 years old! It was pretty clear early on there was something wrong with me, so off to doctors I was taken. They pronounced me as “hyperactive.” Imagine that! A brilliant way to just toss some labels around, never solve the problems, or even get to the root of them, but they sure did medicate me, one amphetamine solution after another, years on Ritalin.
Anyway, wasn’t till I was around 10 that they discovered for real that I couldn’t read, so they ran a truck load of aptitude and I.Q. tests, found out I was really, really smart and they couldn’t understand why I didn’t “catch on.”
Then all of a sudden a teacher read an article about this new problem they had discovered, “dyslexia.” So the die was cast, and there it was, so simple, he sees words backwards. Not quite! Leave it to me and my brain to be even stranger than that, where the letters of any word appear jumbled and all mixed up. For instance the word, “house” might be seen by my brain as “usoeh” and so on. Anyway, I was scooted on thru the grades like the medicated, disruptive kid that I was, never doing any homework, never learning to read, and always in trouble, till my early teens when I just quit going to school.
I started skipping and doing drugs, weed, uppers downers, all arounders, anything to help me deal with this hole in me, nothing worked and finally I got to the point where I would try anything to get a thrill that could overpower my brokenness. The more I did the more I was broken.
I am not proud of the way my life went from there, I was a mess, in and out of trouble with the law. From and thru all this drug-induced reckless behavior, I began committing crimes, burglaries, robberies even going so far as to use guns in the robberies. My twisted logic was that if I had a gun it would reduce any chance of resistance from the victims and lessen the chance of my being hurt. I am able to forgive myself for these horrible acts only because no one was ever physically harmed. If that were not the case I would not ever feel forgiven or cleansed of the bad things I did in the past. I was 26 when I was sent to Leavenworth Penitentiary, Kansas in 1986, for all the crimes I committed. Yes, I have served more than half of my life in prison.
Prison is where all the positive things that happened to and for me occurred. It was there I first realized that I wanted to learn so much more than the little I knew. Eventually, when at my lowest, I decided I would not be broken anymore; I would teach myself to read. I started using my mind to learn all the letters and the words they could spell. I learned how to solve the puzzles of words and developed my own little method for reading that works for me. After that I became a voracious reader, demolishing anything I could get my eyes on. I read westerns, adventures, the classics, history, and there I found my way to books on Native cultures, ways and ceremonies. The more I learned the more I wanted to know and books were not enough.
I had always known I had some Native blood, and however slight or whatever the quantum is, I have always in my soul and heart considered myself Native. But therein lies the problem for a lot of “breeds” in prison. The full-bloods sometimes feel ill will towards us, like just because of skin color or blood quantum we are not worthy of being allowed to participate or learn. Yet as I discovered, there are ample times and people who are full-blood who disagree with this prejudicial treatment or belief.
Fortunately some even came into the prisons to teach and volunteer their time to participate and help the brothers in these iron houses grow and change. Being a wild youngster fresh in the federal system I was fortunate in that one of my first cell mates was a full-blood Oglala Sioux. Mark had been a sun dancer. He was a very spiritual brother who fell into a bad situation and was serving a life sentence. He had been working on change for the several decades he had already served and was the first elder to take time with me, explain about the cleansing ceremony and the sweat lodge. He felt it wasn’t the color of the skin, but the color of the heart that matters, and to this day, I still remember Mark’s kindness. He has long since passed on and I know Creator is well pleased with him.
Then I was transferred to Lewisburg Penitentiary, Pennsylvania. There were some really good brothers there and I tied in with them. However the prison administration at that time had a policy that you had to be medically cleared by the doctor in order to sweat. I had COPD and asthma, so medical would not approve me to go into the sweat lodge. This was disappointing and a block to any spiritual growth, but my thirst for knowledge was ravenous and I continued my study and desire to know more. I read as many Native culture and spirituality books as I could: Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee, Black Elk Speaks, Cheyenne Autumn, Hanta Yo, just to name a few.
So years go by, finally I had stayed out of trouble long enough for my security level to go down. There had been many outside volunteers who gave of their time and came into the prisons for “gatherings” and visits, some very good people who brought both wisdom and camaraderie to us inside these walls. These outside volunteers were like water in a desert to us. They were always welcome and really listened to. I thank them all, those still with us and those who are beyond sorrow, they truly give of themselves and their visits mean the world to us in these iron houses. They are all in my dawn prayers each day.
My lower security “points” meant that after 11 years I was able to go to a medium security facility. My first stop is to be FCI Phoenix, where in 1997 the U.S. Parole Commission recommended that I take the 500-hour residential drug program. When I got to Phoenix, the place was amazingly beautiful to me. I loved the desert and the prison laid out like a college campus.
Right off I asked a Native I met in the chow hall who the pipe carrier on the yard was in order to make myself known to him. Come to find out I still had a lot to learn. I had no clue about intertribal prejudice and the poor relations amongst some tribes and others. It’s really sad to think that sometimes things can get pretty heated and even set some Natives against other Natives, northern tribes against southern tribes, full bloods against half breeds. It just amazes me that still we can’t get along well in some places and many prisons have two or three groups of Native Americans, full bloods and breeds or northern and southern or whatever, just silly if you ask me. After all, aren’t we all after the same end – a stronger, closer, tighter relationship with the Creator and our spiritual growth?
Anyway things worked themselves out and I found that they didn’t have the medical proscription in this particular prison, so I went to my first real sweat lodge ceremony at the invitation of J.R., the pipe carrier. Let me tell you a bit about this. First off it was May and blazing in the desert this day, so 100 degrees outside. The lodge fills up and I am seated in the south, it’s packed, at least 14 Natives in this lodge, they begin to bring the rocks in. Being of the understanding that things are done in sevens for sweats, I expect 28 rocks to come in the lodge followed by some water from a buffalo horn on the rocks. Imagine my apprehension when the final count was 100 rocks, and the amount of water to be used for the entire first round was about a quart. I did not know this was to be a “dry sweat” in the style of the Apache. Needless to say I came out blistered with the hide all but burnt, but I came out with a sense of clarity and focus that was so intense it was far more powerful than any drug I had ever tried. I knew right then that ceremonies within the Native sweat lodge would be the ultimate source of my healing.
So from Phoenix and my first sweat I was definitely in the “want” for more knowledge and experience. My entire stay in Phoenix was a learning experience, from the several types of sweat lodge ceremonies (dry-wet-healing-general-directional) to big drum etiquette and procedure to the various types of big drum songs and appropriate styles, even some of the traditional dance techniques. All was well and moving on in my world. I was looking forward to being free and reuniting with my family and friends. Little did I know that I was nowhere near ready for the world at all.
“The lost home that we are seeking is ourselves; it is the story we carry within our soul.” ~ Michael Meade
By Ghost Dancer (Sequel to The Universal Rainbow Spirit Within Us)
“When you can love even those who persecute you, hate you, ridicule you, and even want to destroy you, then you truly understand the meaning of love…and you have become love.”
~ Ghost Dancer
Now feel our Creator’s love, spirit inside of you. Let it flow into you, thru and out of you. Let it become one with you. Watch your own spirit energy burst into the real rainbow of colors. For every color of every energy is now radiating within you. See this. Become this and know this.
Now it is time for you to truly learn; truly become what you are meant to be.
Most of you probably have never done spirit travel or an Out of Body Experience (O.B.E.) as scientists refer to them. Sort of like what the government military was doing with a program for people to do remote viewing. My people and ancestors have done this for thousands if not millions of years. Just as we do a twelve count in math because it is so much easier than what is used today.
The number 12 breaks down equally in all geometry, calculus, and even in Astro-physics and Quantum physics too. Take a triangle, it has three sides, now multiply that by 4. Answer twelve. Take a 4-direction symbol; it is divided into 4 triangles, once again the number 12. Same thing in a medicine wheel. In the top of the inipi (sacred sweat lodge) you have the morning star symbol which is 4 triangles.
Now look inside the palm of each of your hands. You will find triangles in them. And in your fingertips you will see the swirls of the cosmos or infinity. Each of your four fingers have 3 digits; once again 4 x 3 = 12. No, your thumb is not a finger, it is separate. If we put our finger tips together with our elbows at our sides, we shape a triangle as when most people pray. We have the number twelve in twelve inches makes a foot. A precise measurement that is easily used in larger mathematics. In engineering, architecture, and music the number 12 is vitally important.
Did you know that you have 12 chakras within you? Yes, something that is not normally taught, just as there are even more outside of you. Did you know that you have 12 multi-dimensions, and 12 multi-universes of yourself in each of them? Now let’s multiply 12×12 = 144. Visualize a huge diamond or quartz crystal that has 144 cuts, or facets in it. How beautiful it is and different it is in each facet. See, right now you are a rough diamond, waiting to be opened up to your full beauty. Throughout all of history, the number twelve has been symbolic in all of its uses.
Most folks ignore the power of 12, but it is vitally important to all of us. Stop and think for a minute in your own faith, religious belief and teachings, how many times is the number 12 used? Is it not somewhat amazing that when it comes to say, the elder council of the Islamic faith there are 12 twelve Imams or in Christianity there are 12 apostles? In Greek mythology there are the twelve tasks of Hercules and there are twelve Hebrew tribes. In the Torah, Quran, and Judeo-Christian Bible the number 12 is spoken of, even Aaron’s breast plate has twelve. So do you now think it is important? If we look closely at many different cultures, we see the number 12 is significant. It is there to teach you; remind you of its mathematical musical vibration. Now, is it so hard for you to reach a cosmic understanding that this is a communication vibration with everything that exists, that has ever existed, that ever will exist?
Now above and centered between your eyes is the third eye or the mind’s eye. Yes, this actually exists and when you open this as a triangle the pressure and count helps to remove blockages you have been programmed to. Yes, as you grew up, you were programmed to think as others wanted you to think. To believe as others wanted you to believe, to act and do what others wanted you to do. Only when you were truly a baby were you actually free to see the world as it was meant for you to see and feel – magical and beautiful, with no hate, no prejudice, no bad, no disrespect. But only love and beauty. You felt everything. Your heart and mind and spirit and body were not tampered with and programmed to be something it was not meant to be. You could see energy, you could feel energies.
Study the historical records. There have been times when only royalty or priests were able to read. Why? It was a matter of control. People weren’t allowed to know anything other than what those in control wanted them to know and in those cases many false teachings were given. We know people have a tendency to tell you their opinions and understandings, not what is actually the truth. Then when you have people translating the texts of the ancients, they don’t always do it accurately, especially when the teacher(s) has taken the journey long before.
As we know actual languages change and the meaning of words change as slang or bastardization of language happens. Give you an example. In ancient Hebrew, Adam and Eve actually means mankind and womankind. Now what have you been taught it means? So this is just a small sample. Now take this over thousands of words, then stop and think how many translations are actually giving you the wrong message. And just for the record Eve wasn’t the original name used.
Then you have the council of Nicaea, a group of clerics who decided by concensus which books would be allowed in the whole teachings of a belief and religion.
No I’m not attacking or singling out any belief or religion; I’m just stating facts. Truth is very important, especially within our own selves to be happy, I mean truly happy about who you are, what you are, and what you will become. I’m speaking directly to your heart, your mind and your spirit. You know the truth when you hear it. Are you truly satisfied with all that you are, all that you could be?
Why do people have these pre-conditioned prejudices towards others? Religious beliefs, races, social status? Where did they come from? You can put children from 1 to 3 years of age together, from totally different races, beliefs, social status, poor, extremely wealthy etc. and they do not have those prejudices? So where does it all come from? Where does ridiculing a poor person, an old or crippled person or one who has mental health diseases or anything that makes them “different” come from? It is programmed into you by others. It does not come from your Creator.
Now let’s get back to the vibrations of the vowels and the language of the stars. In your own way, even if it isn’t your ancestor’s language, I want you to picture each vowel one by one. Starting at the first one, “A”. Hum or sing that vibration of sound for that one particular vowel. Picture it as a gift that is taking away one of your problems, one of your doubts, one of your fears, one of your short comings in your eyes, one of your blockages, one of your prejudices, one of your hates, one of your unknowns (this is something that you don’t know so you are leary of it therefore you stay away from it).
Now once you have done that go to the next vowel and do the same, except let this vowel take away one more different problem, doubt, fear, and so on. Continue until you have done all the vowels. Now for a moment close your eyes and sit still and stop and really notice how you feel. Do you feel heavy or do you feel light? Have any of your problems become less? Any of your doubts or fears faded away?
If your answer is yes, then continue doing this practice regularly until all your worries, problems, doubts, fears are gone. If your answer is no then let’s start right back at the beginning. What I want you to realize is this, you only get out of any effort what you put into it! If you start doing this with the attitude of, Yeah right, like this is really going to help or do something…Well guess what, it isn’t going to help you. Why? Because you have programmed yourself to fail. It is almost like we have to hypnotize ourselves to do certain things. Never do I say I can’t do something. If I say I can’t, then I can’t.
Those who truly know me will tell you that no matter what, even if I have never done something, I will say, Yes! I can do that. No, I’m not lying! I’m only positive that whatever it is I know I can do it. Maybe not perfectly at first, but I know I will be able to do it and do it very well, because I believe in me! Many people have doubts about themselves. I never doubt myself in any way because if I do, then I have prepared myself to fail.
You are not a failure. You are a blessing and gift to the world, the universe. This is why you are here right now! This world is going thru awful times but that is because people have lost their belief in themselves and who they truly are. Change has to come! Accept that and accept the fact that you are important in bringing in the new power and beauty into existence. Love is the greatest power there is and when you love everything, truly everything, then you truly understand how beautiful you are. When a person lives in love, real love, they glow with such a brilliant array of colors, yes the colors of the rainbow. Yes claim it! You are a Rainbow Child!
Now whatever belief you practice or claim, call out that you are a child of the Creator (by whatever name) of your belief. Claim this because you are a child of the light and a child of the stars. When you can love even those who persecute you, hate you, ridicule you, and even want to destroy you, then you truly understand the meaning of love…and you have become love.
Most of you never have been tortured because of your beliefs. Most of you have never been beaten so bad that you are unrecognizable because of your belief. But what if you were? Would you deny your belief, change your belief just to stop it? What if they locked you up in prison just because of your belief and they tell you the only way you can get out is if you change your belief? What would you do? I truly hope you never have to go thru this. I’m afraid most of you would probably give in.
Why do I say such things? Because I have seen this with my own eyes and yes it is not pretty or even remotely humane. But yes, it still goes on till this very day all over the world. I ask you this just to see what type of mind set you have. Are your beliefs really dedicated and rooted in your heart? I know that if you truly believe what you profess, you will never have any doubts; you would never deny or change your belief no matter what anyone did to you. I sure wouldn’t.
The rainbow children are the ones who will bring about all the positive changes in the energies and vibrations of the planet and the universe, which in turn will have a positive effect on all the multi-universes and dimensions.
Do your part please!
NOTE: For more than 9 years, Ghost Dancer has been totally disabled, confined to a wheelchair, with ever-diminishing use of his arms and legs. Despite his disabilities, Ghost lives his life in a positive way, his wisdom and courage an inspiration to all who know him. In February 2021, Ghost Dancer miraculously survived two incidents of cardiac arrest. Since then he has felt a calling to write out the messages given his two articles on the Universal Rainbow Spirit. His only concern was that he knew what he had to say would be misconstrued by some. On July 1st, responding to the urgings of his spirit helpers, Ghost made the decision to go ahead. He began the laborious task of pecking each word out with two fingers and completed part 1 on July 3rd. Then on July 4th, Ghost worked all day to complete part 2. Later that Sunday afternoon, he would once again fall into cardiac arrest, not just once, but again in the ambulance. Miraculously, he survived only because medical intervention was immediate. At this posting, Ghost Dancer is still recovering and wearing a heart monitor. He sends his love to all and hopes his message will resonate in a good way with all who read it. E.P.Dixon/Sings Many Songs
As a budding young artist growing up in Montana, Dee Sturgis fell in love with the Native people around her and dreamed of some day painting images of their culture and life ways. Then life took her away from her roots and she found herself raising her family far away in south-east Georgia. Like most people in Georgia, Dee had little knowledge of the generations of Native people who had populated that land before the Creek Indian Removal in 1830.
Then one day a local organization asked Dee if she would do some paintings depicting south Georgia’s Indian people for them. Dee’s response was, “What Indians?” So she did her research and her first painting of a Southeastern Native American, and thus began a whole new focus for Dee’s youthful dream.
Ghost Dancer was most honored to be invited to share some of his ideas and create some artwork of his own to be included in a travelling Heritage Gathering Exhibit Dee and some of her friends put together to tell the story of the Creek Indian people of Georgia. Dee in turn honored Ghost in a couple of her paintings. This one tells his story as he might have looked 200 years ago, and recognizes him as a member of the Wind Clan. The painting features some of the animals he would have known and a trail marker tree so realistic people cannot believe it’s a painting.
All through these days, Dee was already suffering from the illness that would take her life not long after. We thank Dee’s family for this opportunity to honor a great lady who left us too soon. Dee’s talent and determination contributed so much to the remembrance of a people, a way of life and brings honor to the many descendants of those who hid their identity to avoid the removal and have now reclaimed their heritage.
People have always asked me how I know this or how I know that. Many people have their own religious beliefs and still have missed what is right in their own teachings. Either they have not paid attention or overlooked the true messages, or just ignored them. But the answers to all these things have been right in front of all of us all the time.
Almost every one of you has been to school of some type. And almost every one of you know the ABC’s of your own language, race or culture, or I would hope you do, for if you don’t you truly are missing out on part of your own self. To know who we are is to know where we came from, the history of our own people, relatives and ancestors.
No matter what you may think, your ancestors have mixed races, cultures, even belief systems. So don’t even begin to try to say you are true blooded of only one blood, race or culture, for you are planting a lie within your own true existence.
Every single race has been mixed with others. It is the only way to prevent inbreeding and destroying the very essence of your beautiful spirit. If you are alive today, you are a Rainbow Child, meaning one of many colors, races, cultures, and religious beliefs. When you fully come to accept that and embrace that, then and only then, will you begin to glow with beauty as you light up your inner spirit and begin to grow to your highest gifts and abilities.
Since human life began, every continent has been invaded, conquered, captives taken, prisoners taken, women raped, people enslaved and mixed with children from all over the world. You can keep lying to yourself or you can accept that you are a product of all and have the gifts of all inside of you. This makes you gifted in knowledge, strength, connected to all things, all forms of light, sound, energy, and matter. Claim what you are and begin to see the true rainbow of energy that is within you.
Every one of you has heard songs, music, learned your ABC’s of whatever language you speak or is the language of your ancestors. Every one of you has seen movies, videos or read a book so probably you all have heard, seen, or read about chants, hymns, music, and vocables. Now the language of the stars called elati by my Ani-Yun-Wi-Ya ancestors is a vibration chant. There are no words as you know them in the chant, vocables, hymns, or humming. Elati is the spiritual vibration of sounds that change our body’s vibration to harmonize with everything in our world, our multi-dimensions, multi-universes throughout all time and space. Making us completely one!
Elati opens portals, doorways, holes through obstructions you have blocking you. These sounds are found in all languages. Try using only the sounds of the vowels, starting at the first and going thru each one, feeling it resonate deeply, down in your heart center in a beautiful sounding way. Now try visualizing your body become a rainbow of energy, touching everything and feeling everything in existence. Continue repeatedly resonating these sounds until your whole being is vibrating with this beautiful energy.
Now some of you are doubting this because of your personal beliefs. But would you not want me to open your eyes to the fullness of your own beliefs? I don’t care what you believe be it Judaism, Christian, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Tantric, Brahmanism, Paganism, Taoism, or whatever, every one of these use sounds such as chants, music, instruments, prayer songs, and prayers that are vocalized and repeated in harmonized rhythms.
Getting down to basics, all of these are actually following the ancient ways and practices of changing the vibrations of our body’s energies to receive and send messages, by raising and lowering the sounds, by slowing or speeding up the sounds we are altering the effects it has on us and around us.
Here is an example: You are in a room full of people, there is stress and tension in the air, then someone does something or says something that is funny. Then laughter erupts and it changes the energy in the room. (The reverse could also happen).
You go to a dance, the band is playing but no one is dancing. Then one or two go to the dance floor and begin to dance in rhythm to the music and sounds. Then others will follow. The next thing you know the dance floor is full of people all dancing and feeling good and happy.
Now just for a quick test: start vocalizing the vowel sounds in your language, make the sound of each one of them, drawing them out to become a song blending into each other. Feel the vibration of each sound as it flows from you. Feel it flow around you and back into you. Do this over and over until you have changed the sound to a perfect harmony within you. Obviously you can feel the vibrations no matter how hard you may have resisted. These sounds you are making are known as the language of the stars. These harmonized vibrations travel and can go through anything, just as your energy does. Just as each color has its own energy, vibration and gifts. All of these are inside of you.
Each one of your organs has its own distinct coloration. This is why we all have different colored skin, eyes, hair, etc. because we incorporate and represent all of the rainbow. Not one is any better or more important than the other. Neither is any one entitled to any more than any other or over any other. We all are one. When we all remember we are actually one with each other and all things, then an only then will we be able to do all the wonderful things we are supposed to.
Now just imagine for a second what the world would be like if everyone respected one another, loved one another, helped one another, and all life. If we did the world would be such a beautiful place. There would be no hate, no racism, no jealousy, no greed, no bigotry, no religious persecution or religious discrimination. Can you imagine a world with no egotism, no poverty, no homelessness, no starvation or hunger, no sickness or disease and no lust? Remember love and having sex is not the same as lust; lust is plainly a desire for something beyond the control or equal balance with another. Lust invades the energies and bodies of others and usually is associated with forcefulness.
With all this gone only beauty, peace, harmony and love would exist everywhere and within everything and it would radiate this beautiful energy throughout all the universe, and multi-universes and dimensions. People would be able to levitate and travel instantly to wherever they chose to go. Not with any machines or devices but by pure vibration and harmonized energy. See, sound is an energy also and it has many different uses.
In order to develop your harmony, first you must cleanse yourself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Now I know some – well honestly a whole bunch of you – think, “Oh, I’m cleaned, I don’t do this or I don’t do that. Well let’s test your cleanliness and see if you are pure love:
1. What do you watch and like the most on TV?
2. What do you watch on videos?
3. What type of music videos do you watch?
4. Do you ever watch the news?
5. What do you eat?
6. How often do you purge your body? (Use something to totally empty your bowels and bladder till you are empty, and make you throw up until you are empty)
7. How often do you completely fast after purging your body?
8. How often do you exercise, run, move, or do something that will burn up all your energy and cause you to sweat from all your pores?
9. After sweating, do you then purify yourself with incenses or wash your body pure natural spring water?
10. How often do you listen to arguments, get involved in other people’s business, gossip, or take someone ‘s side in a family or friend’s dispute or domestic dispute?
11. How often do you pray?
12. How often do you pray for everyone else and only pray for yourself last?
13. How often are you around others who are arguing, cursing, hating, in a bad mood, prejudiced, or just plain mean?
These are just a few things to be considering when you think how clean you are. Now I can tell some of you are thinking you are protected because someone else went through something all for me or my beliefs say I don’t have to do that or this has all been done for me. So please, please tell me what religious belief that is because I have studied them all intensely and not one I can find says these things.
Now you may have been told that, or you may have thought that or interpreted some holy scripture that way, but NO! None of them say that! You must go to whatever name you use for the Creator and follow the all the teachings, guidelines, laws, and principles you find there. You cannot just pick and choose which ones you want to use and ignore the rest.
So now stop and look at how you answered each of the questions. Yeah you need to clean yourself up. We all do – every one of us – physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually! And we must do this regularly if we are to stay in tune, in harmony with all that we are. No, I’m not trying to pick on anyone; what I’m trying to do is open up your eyes, your heart, your spirit to all that you truly can be.
There are no short cuts. There is no way you can bring yourself into the balance of pure love except step by step. If you think you can take some short cut then you better think again. Let’s look at some of those who went the long way: Moses, Jacob, Isaiah, Job, Enoch, Buddha, Mohamed, Jesus, Shun Yen, just to name a few. Now do you think you are better than they are at this? I don’t think so. Read your teachings again.
Empty out all you have that is blocking you, holding you back – your past, your doubts, fears, disappointments; become pure love, pure beauty, feel this inside and grow. Breathe in the essence of love from all of Mother Earth. Feel her heart become one with you. Let your spirit reach out to all the tall people, the trees, see them in your mind and send them your love. Thank them for all they do for you. Mean what you say, speak it with your heart, your mind and your voice even.
Reach out in the same way to all the plants, rocks, birds, animals, insects, fish, all mammals, reptiles; send your heart out to all the human beings in your area, picture them in your mind; you know their faces, maybe even know their names. Now reach down and feel the earth beneath you. Feel the soil, the minerals, the magnetic fields of energy that flow. Let the energy flow into you and thru you and out of you. Reach deeper till you get to the mantle, the core, the heartbeat pulsing in the lava. Feel the intensity of energy.
Step into the circle of Mother, as her child and meet Mother Earth, the inner world of the first children, the second children, the third children, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and now you. Feel their love, their energy. Thank them for all they do and for being part of you. Yes each of them is connected to you. Everything you are reaching out to is connected to you; they are part of your own spirit, energy, body, and blood.
Now do the same when you come back to the surface and reach up to the sky and clouds. Thank them for all they do for you. Yes the clouds do many different things; they shield you from harmful rays, energy bursts; they bring rain, winds, seasons and a cooling effect so you and everyone doesn’t burn up.
Now push further out, step outside Mother Earth into space, into the world we all come from. For you see we all are made up of star dust. Yes particles of all these different things make up all of our bodies which hold our true spirits inside. And yes, we all came from out here too. Turn around now and view Mother Earth from space, looking back at her. See the beautiful hues of color, see the sunlight, star light gleaming everywhere. Feel the energetic pull of the sun and the flow of the cosmos as the energy flows thru you. Feel the beauty of life, of creation as stars, comets, moons, planets, universes all open up to you. They have awaited for your essence of spirit to come to receive your birthright. Every planet, every star, moon, comet, asteroid beckons to you.
The ether of the heavens and galaxies call you to the center of the universe. Feel the power of all this; let it flow into you and thru you and out again. Now remember every color represents certain things. Mixtures of colors do too for they are colors as well. Colors like you have never seen come before your eyes. Feel them all, become one with them all. Accept the gifts and knowledge that comes. Hear the voice of our Creator echoing in your mind and heart.
Walk in Beauty, Ghost July 3, 2021
Ghost Dancer – Known by thousands as 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. From his world, WALK THE SACRED PATH honors his Muskogee and Ani-Yun-Wiya ancestors. Ghost has a lifetime of fascinating stories to tell and thoughts to share that will expand your world as well.
The Prophecy of the Rainbow Children has been passed down for generations by spiritual leaders of many different tribes and nations. I will pass on some of the most important parts that you need to know.
In the old times, many, many moon cycles before the coming of the invading European peoples, holy people from many tribes began having visions of the future with warnings and understandings of what is to come. These visions did not all come at the same time, nor were those receiving them even anywhere near each other.
They saw the invaders coming with many faces, destroying and taking away the people, destroying all types of life, many whole tribal nations never to come back forever, sickness which no one could understand.
They saw the land, our Mother Earth, torn open, exploding, raped, and poisoned. Many of the four-legged nations gone forever, others almost wiped out; winged ones, those that live in the waters, and crawl upon the ground, all wiped out or nearly so. They saw things they did not know or understand: buildings, machines, automobiles, airplanes, rockets, battle ships, and war machines. They saw tribal nation after tribal nation being wiped out by these invaders.
As they saw all these things, they were crying; tears of sadness coursed down their bodies. Such loss of life, of all life, such terrible destruction and pain caused for no other reason than greed. Native peoples always valued life; these people didn’t. They never asked, they just took!
These holy ones, whenever they saw these things, cried out to the Creator, asking how they could stop this; what must they do?
And the Creator told them they could not stop this. It will happen. The holy ones cried and asked, “What are we to do then?”
Then Creator said, “Many, many, many season cycles will come and go. The children of the Earth Nations will be scattered and reduced to just a few. Only a very few will have no other blood, but the blood of the children of the earth, and even they will be mixed, so as to keep their line from being tainted. Many must breed with other tribes of the children of the Earth Nations.
“But of the remainder, many will be mixed and then mixed again, until very little even remains of the true blood of the ancestors of their peoples. Yet inside of them, they will still have the spirits of their ancestors calling from within. They will not be whole and happy until they accept this calling and begin living this path. Many of these will be looked down upon by the remaining tribes, and even not accepted by most. This is a mistake.
“For it is with them the people can become strong again and unite as a force to become one voice, one heart, and one mind. These children will be of all different colors, all different nations, yet their true inner spirit is as one of the people. These are the Rainbow Nation and they will energize the people and help restore balance and peace back to all of the children of the Earth Nations.”
The holy ones asked Creator, “How will we know they are one of the Rainbow Children?”
The Creator said, “The children will feel lost, confused and frustrated in life. Nothing they do or believe will feel quite right to them. They will have strong emotions about injustices and the destruction of the other nations: the four-legged, winged ones, those in the waters, or those that crawl upon the ground; the tree people, plant people, and especially the clean air and waters.
“They will be upset by all the judging of people because of how they look or where they came from. The beliefs they are taught will not answer their questions and will not make them feel complete. They will not be happy with the way life is around them. Many will have dreams, many will have intuitions and just know things.
“Their ideas and thoughts will not be popular with others of the majority. They will feel alone in these things. These are your Rainbow Children.
They can be of a tribal nation but have different understandings and spiritual knowledge that is not normal or accepted as they have been taught. Many of these know where they belong, but because they do not look a certain way or do not have history that is known, they will be turned away by those who do not know better.”
Then Creator told the holy ones what they must do: “You must let everyone know and to remember, never judge by what you see. It is up to you to make sure this knowledge is passed down through time, for when it is time, the Rainbow Children shall come forth and accept their calling and unite.
“And all the children of the earth shall hear their voice and know their hearts and minds as one. The tribal nations shall dance and have balance again, for the mother and all her children will be protected and be healed again.”
I give you this message so that the Rainbow Children will come. All is not lost.
Walk in Love and Beauty,
Ghost Dancer 2014
Ghost Dancer – Known by thousands as 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. From his world, WALK THE SACRED PATH honors of his Muskogee and Ani-Yun-Wiya ancestors. Ghost has a lifetime of fascinating stories to tell and thoughts to share that will expand your world as well.
They Recognized Me, Touched My Life, and Helped To Guide My Path
Part 2 – South Dakota Summers
By the time I reached my early teens, I had been working all kinds of jobs for years and always saved my money so was able to buy a good motorcycle. None of my family knew this at the time, but I learned from news reports on TV or radio about events going on at the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. I quickly decided on a goal to go up to South Dakota during the summer to help my brothers and sisters in the American Indian Movement. My parents would never have understood this, and had they known my intention, they would have thrown a fit, so I decided to sneak away and that is exactly what I did.
Starting out on a 1,300-mile journey alone on a motorcycle didn’t bother me at all. I had money in my pocket and skills in map-reading and route-plotting from taking trips with my family and working for my dad who had a taxi cab company. The trip took me three days. I camped the first night in Missouri, the second in Nebraska and the third in South Dakota. I left home with a back pack of beef jerky, biscuits, apple fritters, smoked sausage, and dried corn. Along the way, I would find places to camp in the forest, so no one would see. Then I would build a fire and make a soup by adding water to some dried corn and cut up sausage and let it slowly cook. Eventually I made it to the Pine Ridge Reservation.
I didn’t stand out too much. I had dark hair and was tanned from working outside on the farm and doing construction, but trust did not come easy. At first people were nervous about who I was, but I offered to help every chance I had, and soon found acceptance. I met several people who would play a significant role in my life.
My Muskogee Mentors, Phillip Deere and Billy Proctor
My brother, my uncle, my friend, my spiritual teacher, Phillip Deere was all these and more. I only got to meet with him a handful of times there at Pine Ridge, but those times were special for here was a Creek spiritual teacher who was special. There were times when he spoke to a large group of us from various backgrounds, teaching and shaping us, and those were the best of opportunities.
But the times when Uncle spoke to me alone were the most awesome, for in these times he gave me Creek spiritual teachings and then had me figure out the understanding of these things. From Uncle I learned that knowing a teaching is one thing; truly understanding the meaning and purpose of it is what makes it powerful. He asked the questions, “How can you teach what you truly don’t understand and how can you live it if you don’t understand the deeper and true teaching that is there?”
Learning these things from one of my true own people who was highly respected as a spiritual teacher, was truly important to me. Here was a teacher from whom I wanted to learn as much as I could. Phillip Deere also helped me understand that I must learn not to fight my own self. He knew the struggle I was fighting was my own illusion. Being a mixed breed always bothered me because I thought others judged me by how I looked. He laughed at that and said, “See! This is what I’m talking about. People who are true to our ways will truly see the real you. You don’t have to prove yourself to anyone but yourself.”
In my mind, I can still hear Phillip Deere’s words: Just like this thing we are all doing. (A.I.M.) Most see us as radical and the media and the government portray us as evil and trouble. But we are only a spiritual awakening that is now arousing the spirits of the people to step forth and claim their spirits back; to hold their heads up in honor and respect. See, they fear us because they do not want this…
They can control a broken person, they cannot control a spiritual person. We are here only to protect those who have asked us to come and help them. We follow this spiritual path in a sacred way every time. ~ Phillip Deere
So, you see, this is how you must see everything. Sure, there will be many who doubt you, many who even attack you, but they only win if you let them. Remember a warrior is judged by the strength and power of his enemy. When you are doing right, you will always be attacked that much more. If you were wrong and foolish, people would sit back and laugh and say nothing because your words and actions have no power. All who walk this path have battles, have those who attack and say all kinds of things about us. It makes no difference if you are full blood or mixed blood. Even members of our own tribe attack us because we teach or walk a different path than they do. They have forgotten the old ways. They have forgotten that we are to accept each person’s own path and what Spirit reveals to them. We are not to attack them for it. It seems they are witch hunting again.
Uncle said to me, “Just stay to who you are and you will always have those who step forth to help and guide you. For they will see your true spirit; your true heart.” These words spoken to me by Phillip Deere have always followed and guided me. I still live by what he taught me all those years ago.
Billy Proctor was another Creek who touched my life there at Pine Ridge. He was a member of the tribe in Oklahoma and Phillip Deere introduced me to him, saying, “Billy, here is one of your family members from Alabama.” Billy wanted to know who my people were, so I told him the names of all my great aunts and uncles on my father’s side. He was familiar with their names and told me there had been marriages that would make us related through the Wind Clan and Bird Clan town people. Billy’s family had moved to Blount County, AL from southeastern Georgia generations before and his grandparents and great grandparents had all lived there.
We all did ceremonies together, but Billy Proctor was more than a friend, or uncle. He was someone I could talk to about anything; my dreams, my life, my problems, just anything. He would sit there and listen and then light his corn cob pipe and smoke it for a while before speaking. He always did this. Sometimes at first, I thought he was falling asleep or already asleep. But he was thinking and dreaming on his answers. When I asked him about this, he told me we should never rush an answer, ever. Even if you know the answer to a question, wait because a better one may come to you that will work so much better. He said he always wants to either ask his spirit helpers or dream of what the question was, then see it and see the answer as best would work for that person. We are all different, he would say, and we each may have the same question, but the answer for each may be, and generally is, different because we all have different paths to walk.
Many of Billy’s ancestors, family and relatives, were considered medicine people and did many different things. Billy didn’t consider himself to be a medicine man or holy man. He said he was just a man who tries to walk the path that is his. He just accepted the gifts that he had and would help and teach you if you asked. As he told me, “A closed mouth don’t get fed.” So, I learned, if you want to know something you must ask. If you need help you must ask. He taught me too, that before you do something for anyone else, they must ask first. Never use any gift you have on anyone or for anyone unless they ask first. We live by our own sacred laws. This you must always follow. Ever since, I have always followed these laws.
Billy was a man who lived the old ways; he didn’t like the modern world. He would have fainted seeing today’s world. He loved his sabias (crystals) and worked with them all the time. He never accepted or even went to get anything from the tribal offices. He lived strictly off the land and his connection to it.
Sun Dance Chief Swallow & Grandfather Ghost
Through my Muskogee mentors, I met several Lakota elders, and these were the ones who truly taught me many of the Lakota ceremonies and songs. Sun Dance Chief Swallow and Grandfather Ghost were both wicasa wakans or holy men. These were very good men who took the time to teach all the young people there. They both had gentle hearts and I could literally see and feel their spirits!
Crow Dog and Art Solomon
Crow Dog was the spiritual person (wicasa wakan) who was so instrumental in developing the American Indian Movement (A.I.M.). There were others as well, such as Art Solomon, teacher of the Prophecy of the Seven Fires. He was one of the spiritual leaders who led the Caravan of Broken Treaties across America. Art was an Anishinaabe from Canada, around Ontario, I think.
Because of mounting tensions and open conflict at Wounded Knee in 1973, when I returned to South Dakota that year, I brought several guns with me in my car. Much later, when all the A.I.M. guns were confiscated, and authorities ran checks on them, it turned out several of the guns had been stolen. Eventually, charges were brought against me for buying and receiving stolen property, grand larceny and burglary. For that I went to prison in Alabama. Art Solomon stayed in touch with me while I was in prison and was a witness for me in federal court in my Native American Religious Freedom case.
I love learning, and while in South Dakota, I met many elders and teachers who taught me some of my most valued lessons. My attentiveness and willingness to listen and learn caught the attention of the teachers, Swallow and Ghost. They took time and worked with me in learning the Seven Rites of the Lakota and the meanings of all the songs. Many don’t understand how very important it is to know what the words to the songs mean. To know the meaning and believe what you are saying, gives the song power; you can see and feel the power coming into being.
One of the highest honors of my life came when Grandfather Ghost did a Hunka Ceremony for me. This is an old-time adoption ceremony of the Lakota. In the old days, if a young person had no status or was orphaned, he could be adopted by someone who had lots of status or honor. This provided the young person with a new family and helped him to have a better life and a chance to be elevated in rank.
I would return to Pine Ridge the following summer. During the course of these three summers, the world of the Lakota was my world completely. I learned so much more in many Lakota ceremonies, from elders such as Kenton Fast Horse, Old Man Blue Horse, Grandfather Charging Hawk, Eagle Thunder, and so many more.
I still remember every word, every song and every ceremony I learned during those long-ago summers. I have a natural gift for learning things that are important to me because I put my whole self into the experience. During those summers in South Dakota I wasn’t taught from books. The elders taught me by being there, doing the ceremonies and I learned by paying attention and asking questions about things I didn’t understand, always wanting to know more. I found all the elders to be very patient and openly willing to teach me so long as I was respectful and sincere.
My mentor, Phillip Deere, helped open doors for me to have access to many well-known spiritual people and elders. He was also Muskogee and loved that I was there, not only to learn our people’s sacred ways from him, but to learn other people’s ways as well by being there with A.I.M. members and elders from the many tribes and nations that were represented.
During this time, we were all learning from each other and standing together as one, healing the sacred hoop which in turn, would heal us. Most members of A.I.M. were mixed bloods and came from the cities to return to the reservation. Most of the families there had been relocated under the government’s relocation act and many had lost touch with their relatives during those years. The catalyst for coming back to the reservation was a renewed spirit of wanting Native rights and freedom. Many of the elders and women there were crying out for help and protection, and A.I.M. was there for them. Many in the government and the press called this an uprising. But that was not true. The movement at that time was a Spiritual Awakening; and awakening the spirit within all of us.
These people, elders and teachers I met during those South Dakota summers, changed my path forever. Never again would I be silent or sit back. I would be vocal about our rights and freedom; our right to be who we are. We aren’t extinct, but very much alive and keeping our cultures, languages, and religious beliefs alive and going forward.
Editor’s Note: Ghost Dancer was a minor and never had any part in the political standoff between leaders of A.I.M. and the FBI. He was not present when the violence at Wounded Knee occurred.
Ghost Dancer – Known by thousands as 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. From his world, WALK THE SACRED PATH honors his Muskogee and Ani-Yun-Wiya ancestors. Ghost has a lifetime of fascinating stories to tell and thoughts to share that will expand your world as well.
They Recognized Me, Touched My Life, and Helped To Guide My Path
Part 1 – Early Childhood
I would like to begin by sharing some things that may or may not resonate with something inside of you. I speak to the thousands who know they have an American Indian bloodline, however distant it may be, or Native blood you can never prove. You feel you will never belong, and a big part of who you are is so missing in your life. You may have tried to fill this emptiness, going through the motions, but no one knows what to tell you or how to teach you to truly connect.
You have a Native heart or Native spirit inside, just begging to come out, to be accepted, freeing you to enjoy your true self. You may have read a stack of books, some written by people who may be full bloods and enrolled in a federally recognized tribe and yet the words don’t feel right and they may even put down people like you – half-breeds or others with less “blood quantum,” especially those who don’t “look” Native and cannot prove their heritage. Where do you turn?
For many years I did not understand my true path in life. I could not figure out why I had to go through so many ordeals and I often wondered what the lesson was that I must learn. But learn I did and in time I knew for certain. I have lived my whole life as Native. This is who I am from my very core even though I may not look like anyone’s idea of what Natives are supposed to look like. Now, to those who are ignorant of the true Native beliefs, this may be a problem. But those who truly walk the nene-cate, the red path, know it is not appearance or degree of blood that matters, but the truth revealed through a person’s own heart and spirit.
See, being Native means being true to who you are as you learn the many different layers of life that you truly have within you – the way many of you have already lived and will continue to live. We are all special beings and we all have many gifts. All we have to do is accept who we truly are and begin living it – not just on one day or for a few hours, but every single day and every moment.
Most people believe they already know everything about being Native. They have read something or been told something and accept it as fact. They cling to the superficial and never discover the wealth that lies beneath the surface. We all must learn how important it is to grow in each experience. If a cup is full, no more can be put into it. But if the cup is emptied, then it can be filled again and again. This is what I mean by the layers of life. First, we must begin as a child, an infant fully open and able to absorb life’s teachings, Spirit teachings each moment of each day. When we open our minds and hearts this way we allow ourselves to grow, to discover higher and higher meanings of life each day. As we begin to see and understand things so much more clearly, we move ever more closely to truly understanding how we are all connected and part of everything. I hope each of you will find your true path.
I have been blessed with many people in my life who have loved me, taught me, challenged me and supported me in a thousand ways as I sought to travel my true path. In my youth I had so many elders to look up to, my parents, step parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, as well as great Native elders and spiritual leaders – how I love and respect them all. I would like to share my memories of a few who stepped in at different stages of my journey, just at the moment I needed their wisdom and guidance.
Many folks don’t know about my childhood, so let’s just say I was very adventurous. Well, actually, I was as wild and headstrong as could be. When I was very young, we went to Silver Springs, not far from my Florida home. I was fascinated by the Seminole Village at Silver Springs and went over because I wanted to talk to the young boys there.
At first it was awkward because the part of the village I went into was private and not a part that the tourists could come to, so the boys looked at me like I didn’t have any business there. An elder woman sitting under one of chickees saw me and motioned for me to come over, so me being me, I did. I first learned to call her Grandmother Ruby. Much later I would come to know this woman was none other than Ruby Tiger Osceola, beloved matriarch of the Seminole people, and to fully appreciate how deeply she would affect my life.
That first day, she looked at me for the longest and then motioned for me to sit. I sat down near her and soon came to know she saw me like no other person ever had. She said to me, “Many don’t understand what you are, but I do.” I asked her if she lived there. She told me she didn’t, but that she visits. Then she asked me where I lived and like a dummy, I remember pointing up the hill toward the place where my family’s friends lived.
This was my first experience with Grandmother Ruby and her acceptance of me broke the barrier with the kids of the village. I began spending more and more time with them. I loved hearing Grandmother Ruby talk and the stories she told about the Creek and Seminole people. She made me feel like I was right there, experiencing it all. I could feel her heart glowing with love for all the people. Even though Grandmother Ruby didn’t live there, she opened the door for my acceptance at the village. This became my second home and Silver Springs was our playground. My years spent there were some of the best of my life and I would return as often as I could. Off and on Grandmother would come and when she did it was a big occasion.
Grandmother Ruby called me a star child. Once I asked her what she meant and she told me a story about the blue-eyed Native children. She said we would be different because our own Native people would look at us strangely and so would other races, but we are all star children. She explained that we are meant to learn as much as we can and remember everything. “One day,” she said, “You must pass all this on to others.” She told me life would not be easy, but it will make you strong and help you in what you will become. When others say things that hurt you, it only hurts if you let it. Just be you and don’t let anyone stop you from being who you are. Then she said, “I see you as you truly are; a beautiful heart and spirit. Now go have fun with others.”
Her words touched me so much as she looked at me. They vibrated throughout my body. I wanted nothing more than to make this Beloved Grandmother proud and love me. Her smile could do that to you. I know I will always do my best to honor her and her words to me. In Gratitude, Ghost
Grandpa Edgar David Beavers
My Grandpa Edgar Beavers was a full-blood Cherokee. He was blind and had been since before I was born. He was still kind of wild even then and I grew to know him well when he visited my family in Florida and I got to see him when we visited family in Alabama. Grandpa Beavers was a big man and I so wanted to grow up to be big like he was.
Grandpa was a wake up for me to know who I was and what I should be doing. He would talk late in the night, telling me stories of our Cherokee people and their history and spiritual beliefs as well. He instilled in me the knowledge that I had a destiny and a duty to step up and do what I needed to do. He talked to me as if I were a grown person, valuing my ideas, questions and opinions. He told me little ones like me all have rights from our people; that we are people too, and many times see things that others don’t. So, everyone learns from everyone and when people stop listening to others knowledge is lost.
Grandpa gave me my first crystal. It was a beautiful power wand crystal, and he taught me how to use it. He spent time teaching me other things too, like the reading of the hands and how to understand these things I must practice more and more. He told me about my great grandmother who had these gifts.
Grandpa Beavers loved being up late at night. I guess because he was blind, he didn’t mind the darkness of the night and I stayed up with him. It wasn’t always easy, especially in the swamps where we lived at that time. Mosquitoes were biting me and Grandpa said, “When you want that to stop, I’ll tell you the plant you need.” I told him I wanted to know now. He laughed and told me I had to look for a wax myrtle. I asked what that was, so he described it to me so I would know what I would be looking for in the morning.
Sometimes Grandpa got out his corn cob pipe and while he smoked he told me about the stars and how the Ani-yun-wiya know where they all came from. On one clear night, he told me to look for a cluster of stars to the south. I did and he asked if I had found them. I said yes! And he told me they were the seven sisters and they are called the Pleiades and we all came from there. Then he told me to close my eyes and feel myself travelling up to them. Grandpa also told me the stories of Selu and so much more. Always, Grandpa said I must never forget my Cherokee history, my blood and my clan.
Like others of my family had told me, Grandpa talked about how rough it is being a Native when we have to hide who we are because people are scared of us. They don’t like to see us because of what they did and they are ashamed. So they hate us for living and reminding them of what they took from us. He told the majority are influenced by those who have this in their heart but assured me not all are like this. There are many, he said, who have beautiful hearts and I should never forget that.
Grandpa also told me that he could see how different I was than his other grandkids. He said I had a spirit in me that was as wild as a wolf, independent as an eagle, and yet, alone. He sensed my spirit and knew that I was seeing and hearing things that others did not and would never understand. He warned that I must be quiet about these things, saying, “People will fear you and think bad of you. Their own beliefs make them blind to how good your heart really is so it is important that you learn how to use your gifts.”
So late at night my grandpa taught me what he knew and how to use the gifts that I had been blessed with. He taught me about spirit traveling which I truly loved. Learning how to walk in the spirit world was a truly powerful experience and necessary for me to learn these ways. Grandpa might have been blind using normal eyesight, but not using his mind’s eye or letting his spirit free. His senses were attuned even to the air. His nose was like a wolf smelling everything, taking in information. His ears were as sharp as any deer.
I still remember his words, “In life, we can be chained or crippled if we allow ourselves to be. But we are so specially blessed that if we are lacking in one area, all our other senses and talents kick in overdrive and make up for it if we allow them to. Never say you can’t do something. If you say that you are crippling yourself from doing anything before you even try.”
Grandpa was a true inspiration. Our time together kept me always wanting to be back in the old days, living wild and free, living as one and in balance with everything. He taught me how to open my heart to the heartbeat of our Mother Earth and to feel the heartbeat of the forest and the swamp. These were special times. Grandpa’s hands read the lines in my hands and yet, I knew that was not all he was doing. He said, “You have a powerful gift with your mind; learn all you can and never stop learning.”
These words he spoke and the insights he taught have stayed with me all my life. I was proud of him and I still am. He knew without saying that I would not be a “Native in the cupboard,” that my spirit would lead me to stand out and broadcast that we are still here. We live and we will continue to live and survive. In those days, I had a treehouse way up in an old oak tree. I would lay up there at night watching the stars and talking to all my relatives who were certainly watching all of us.
I’m not saying that I was taught to challenge society. No, I was just to let people know there are thousands who did not go on the trail of tears from the civilized tribes in the south. We lived and survived despite all that was done to us and being hunted. Many of our relatives in Oklahoma don’t even recognize us because we didn’t go. But that doesn’t make us any less Native. My Grandpa Beavers was truly sad because so much had been lost to the people: religion, ceremonies, languages, history, and culture. But this was by design as he told me because it was, and still is, the belief of the government that to take away a people’s language and religion and culture is to annihilate them.
These words stayed with me, so I made it my responsibility to learn every aspect of our Native culture, beliefs, ceremonies, songs, crafts, language, and ways of life that I could. I’m still learning and trying to protect these things for all our people. It is such a blessing these days to know there are others who are doing all they can to help preserve these histories, cultures, languages, and religious practices so we all have a chance to learn and become more. My Grandpa Beavers knew how important all these were so we could continue, and by federal law, these are all required to be recognized as a tribe and a people. With honor and respect, Ghost
I have been blessed with many people who have helped shape my life. None as much as Alma Jacobs, a Cherokee elder known to everyone as Maw-Maw Jaybird. When I first met her, she was already ancient – at least in my young eyes – and yet so full of life still. I have no clue as to her age, but she was blind and had been for years. She was a widow and lived in the mountains of northern Alabama. Two of her daughters were still living at home with her, but some of her children were married and gone.
One of her daughters, Jewel, was my stepmother. She had married my dad and they spent a lot of time at her family home place, so this mountain-top farm became my second Alabama home when I was with my dad. I will always remember the first time my dad took me to Maw-Maw’s old homestead. There was no road so to speak; we drove there in a pickup and it was still rough getting there. When I first saw Maw-Maw, I couldn’t believe it. Here was a woman I was told was already old and blind, but she was out working in the gardens and I could see no sign that she could not see. She was working and pulling weeds with her hands faster than the two ladies also working in the garden.
When I got out of the back of the pickup, they waved at me. I waved back and they all started coming up the hill towards us. I didn’t know what to expect, but I surely wasn’t ready for what I saw. Here was a woman still limber, and walking like a panther – fluid, effortlessly – and without help where she was going. She was a very small woman; no more than maybe 4′ 8” or so. I was a boy and was already taller than she was. Her hair was braided and wrapped around her waist several times.
Maw-Maw Jay Bird walked up to me and said, “Let me see you child!” She reached out her hands to touch my face. She saw me through her touch. She felt across my shoulders, chest, back and arms. She held my hands and she just glowed in my eyes. When she finished, she introduced me to her daughters, and this began a learning time, a truly amazing life and meaningful experience for me.
Maw-Maw loved having me there. She taught me all kinds of things, and I was all eyes and ears. The garden was made in tiers around one side of the mountain; the other side was all planted in corn. At the top, the homestead was all flat. She had guineas, pheasants, peacocks, and all kinds of chickens on her property. She had a mule, hogs, a milk cow, and some beef cows. Working with animals and birds came natural to me and all of them knew it too, because I loved them all.
The chickens roamed free and ate a lot of bugs. They served as our pest control in the gardens around both sides of the mountain. We raised them for the eggs and for more chicks. My dad also raised gamecocks, fighting roosters, for selling or trading. There were all kinds of wildlife too: deer, turkey, mink, raccoons, and groundhogs all over that mountain. Poke salad grew everywhere, and we had apple trees, muscodines, peaches, plums and pear trees.
Maw-Maw had the meanest, biggest dog I have ever seen in my life. That dog guarded the chicken house and the smoke house, and never left that area unless she called him. No one could go near that dog but her, and it was bigger than the black bears that roamed around the area. Every animal and bird knew her. She loved them all and they all loved her too.
We had no electricity, no plumbing, no modern anything. Everything was like in the old days – a wood stove, outhouse and water well. We climbed down in the well to place our butter and such to stay cool beside the spring water. There was a crank with a rope to bring water up from the well. Our clothes were cooked and scrubbed clean in a big iron kettle in the yard. Then they were rinsed in a wash tub and run through a wringer that we turned by hand.
We had a wagon, corn crib, tack shed, and plenty of hard work to go around. Protecting the garden became my responsibility. My job was to make sure the rabbits, deer, bears or anything else didn’t eat the garden up. There was good fishing in a creek and a small spring-fed lake on the backside of the mountain, so we had everything we needed to live. It wasn’t just the work or responsibilities or knowledge about these things that was so special.
What I loved most were the stories and all the things Maw-Maw taught me about the old ways. I learned about all the different plants she made poultices and medicines from, how to prepare them and when to gather them. Her nose was like a radar; she could smell plants and roots. She would test me, asking what I could see and had me describe them to her. Then she would tell me what each was good for. She also taught me about the moons and how they affect all things. With the help of her daughters, Maw-Maw was a college of knowledge for me to learn from.
Going to town in the wagon was a journey, and I learned to never think that because she was blind Maw-Maw didn’t know everything around her. The only time I knew she was nervous was if a bunch of people were around and she had to move through them. I asked her about it and she said, “I don’t have a problem moving through, I know where I’m going; problem is they don’t know where they are going!” I laughed till I cried.
Night time was story-telling time when Maw-Maw and her daughters schooled me in the old stories and ways. In bad weather, we stayed in and did things that needed being done, and my schooling continued. They loved me as if I were their own.
Even when I was grown up, they still lived that same way. I will cherish their love, teaching, and all the knowledge they gave me. I pray I can always live up to what they believed in me and all that was given for me to do.
Ghost Dancer – Known by thousands as 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. From his world, WALK THE SACRED PATH honors of his Muskogee and Ani-Yun-Wiya ancestors. Ghost has a lifetime of fascinating stories to tell and thoughts to share that will expand your world as well.