Prophecy of the Rainbow Children

Walk the Sacred Path, By Ghost Dancer
Dream Catcher
By Cat Dancing

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.

Walk The Sacred Path (2)

By Ghost Dancer

Honoring Beloved Elders

They Recognized Me, Touched My Life, and Helped To Guide My Path
Part 2 – South Dakota Summers

Dream Catcher
by Cat Dancing

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.

© Ghost Dancer Dec 2017

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.

Walk The Sacred Path (1)

By Ghost Dancer

Honoring Beloved Elders

They Recognized Me, Touched My Life, and Helped To Guide My Path

Part 1 – Early Childhood

Dream Catcher
by Cat Dancing

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.

Grandmother Ruby

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

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

Maw-Maw Jaybird

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.  

With fondest respect, Ghost

© Ghost Dancer – 2017

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.


An Invitation from E. P. Dixon

I am an elder and a seeker, an outsider by nature, always looking through cracks in the fences of life trying to make sense of the world. Being an outsider can be lonely sometimes, but oh, what treasures can be found in most unexpected places. Without question one of my life’s greatest blessings came when I reached out for understanding and came to know a remarkable Native American warrior hidden in a world of his own. For nine years, I had the privilege to be both friend and advocate for Ghost Dancer, a remarkably wise and kind elder in federal prison. Over time Ghost began to reveal details of his life and his wrongful conviction, even asking my assistance in filing pro se legal motions as he continued his fight for justice from within the prison walls. The more I learned, the more I came to understand the full extent of his story and realized the importance that not only his wise teachings but also his life journey and struggles with injustice within the justice system be shared with the world.

Ghost Dancer – Known as a “gentle giant,” a wise elder, teacher, artist, and keeper of the old ways, Ghost has a deep understanding of the spiritual and cultural traditions of the Southeastern Native Peoples, as well as the Lakota Sioux and other western tribal People. Little by little over the course of years of my friendship with him, Ghost has shared bits and pieces of his life story, but much he kept to himself. Then in 2020, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, with his health in a shambles, Ghost wrote pro se motions to the courts that convicted him asking for compassionate release. A year later, after multiple near-death health crisis episodes, Ghost was finally granted release from prison. After gaining his freedom in late 2021, Ghost agreed to tell his story. From the very beginning, Ghost’s biographical work, ALL FOR THE RIGHT TO PRAY takes the reader chapter by chapter through the course of this one man’s lifelong struggles to just be himself and live peacefully in a world where he knew even in childhood that he was “out of time, out of place.” Ghost Dancer’s story is both a revelation of the sheer evil that can negatively impact a person’s life as well as testament to the power of Spirit to give them the strength and helpers to triumph over it. From his world behind prison walls, GHOST’S SACRED PATH honors his Muskogee and Ani-Yun-Wiya ancestors as he shares a lifetime of fascinating stories, wisdom and thoughts to uplift us all and help us grow in our understanding of traditional Native beliefs and life ways.

In 2019, Ghost introduced me to another Native American inmate, Walks On The Grass. Walks’ life journey was entirely different but compelling and insightful in it’s own way. What the two had in common was their love of heritage and the practice of traditional Native American religious ceremony as a means of healing, teaching and surviving in the dark and hostile world of the “iron house” where Native inmates are the smallest minority. It is my personal honor to give both these two beautiful people voice to share their stories in “Journeys of the Spirit.”

Walks On The Grass – Readers will be riveted to each Chapter of LONG ROAD HOME as this delightfully warm and talented man shares an honest and compelling account of his amazing journey. From the first line, “I was born broken,” Walks navigates a path filled with bumps, boulders and wrong turns in search of wholeness. Through the grounding of songs, prayers and ceremony in the Inipi, traditional Lakota sweat lodge, and the support of wise elders and teachers, Walks gradually comes home to his true self. You won’t want to miss it. The fascinating story continues in ALONG THE WAY, a post script to Walks’ spiritual journey discussing in short essays, experiences, insights & humor on the “Long Road Home.” Finally, as Walks sees his long years in federal prison coming to an end, he shares each step of preparing himself for a new life outside those prison walls in LIGHTS IN THE DISTANCE.

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