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Cosmos & Consciousness

Or The Five Rules of Indigenous Understanding

A Native American Philosophical Primer

(for modern peoples)

Cosmos & Consciousness 3rd Edition

Copyright 2015 by Ronald Thomas West

For profit & mass paper media redistribution prohibited

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This primer was originally constructed for the purpose of explaining to the indigenous
Americans how far removed from reality theyd become; on account of a mandatory Western
education and the direct imposition of Platonic-Cartesian philosophy having shaped their
mentality in this modern day.
But now, it occurs to me it might be even more useful to pop the fantasy reality bubble of those
people expecting they can adapt Native American spiritual practices to their Western lifestyle and
somehow expect this is valid. Even if you have a bonafide Native American elder teaching you,
chances are 99.999% you will simply have deceived yourself and it is how your mentality had
been culturally shaped prior to encountering Native American ways, determines this.
Then, there is the problem of MOST Native Americans, even those (or especially those) who
believe they can teach you, are dead wrong. If they are Western educated, they have a useless
intellectual grasp of their own ways and if they are NOT Western educated, they will have no
real grasp of how your mentality had been shaped in such a way as to make the bridge of
understanding impossible.
Now, with that said, there is an ancient Native American rule of paradox allows for the
possibility there are Western women will be able to fathom what Western men cannot; the
ancient principles of matriarchy which, integrated to nature as a lived philosophy, allow for an
evolutionary understanding of our existence.
And as for the Western males (includes most Native American males in this modern day) wishing
to grasp these principles as a valid, lived, philosophical system, youre just out of luck unless
you can accept there are areas of knowledge will be denied to you and that is immutable law. The
key here is MATRIARCHY and that word is supposed to denote something specific: A womens
rule of law based in female intelligence form with mere elements of the male (androgyny.)
Male hierarchy has no place in this system and that fact excludes Judeo-Christian monotheism. It
also excludes Plato and everything based in objectivity. No matter were you practicing anything
else, the very fact youd been shaped (as a man or in the case of some women into a man) by
the civilization based in male hierarchy determines; even if you can wrap your head around what
follows with intellectual grasp .. as a man you will never be a real part of it except as the
womens servant.
In the pages that follow, first a bit of history in cultural context and then, the principle lessons -

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The ones who complain and talk the most about giving away Medicine Secrets, are always
those who know the least -Frank Fools Crow, Lakota
Im glad Frank stated this, because I am going to give away some medicine secrets in this essay
of what is intended to become a series (in which I will be giving away more so-called medicine
First off, there were no secrets, only a reluctance to share knowledge with people who live
stupidly. In todays world, where the majority of MANKIND is living stupidly, including many
so-called traditional Indians, the native principle of paradox comes into play. That is to say,
when an old habit has come to be counter-productive, the old habit must be turned on its head.
The old native world was never traditional in present day context or in the way people seem to
think this definition applies, because the native reality was fluid, dynamic, evolving, the dream
changes. New dreams revealed themselves and life adjusted accordingly. Within this context,
there were some immutable rules, including exceptions to immutable rules! The rules of
tobacco were not an exception except in the case of a law-breaker chief, an accepted (but rare)
phenomena. So, turning this all on its head (again) I will point out the rules of tobacco should be
kept in the old way, mostly without exception. And these rules are not what many people might
The Sacred is Sensual
So, tobacco goes into a pipe, correct? Well, not in every case. But in the same moment, yes, it all
does, or should, sooner or later. Am I speaking in metaphor? Maybe, it all depends on how far
tobacco has taken you in understanding or negotiating reality, which is multi-layered, multifaceted.
300 years Jesuit poisoning of Native American mentality might jolt some of you (Indians
particularly) when I point out the stone appendage jutting out from beneath the bowl of the MAN
pipe is your boner (thats right, a mans erection.) A womans pipe does not sport this. So right
off, sex is integral to the sacred, which has absolutely nothing to do with those modern cretans
or so-called Medicine Men or Holy Men who use the power of their position to gratify
themselves sexually, by preying on their female students. In fact, traditionally speaking men did
not have female students until a woman had reached menopause, and then only if a woman
wished to exercise her ABSOLUTE right to enter into the male knowledge. Men did not, DID
NOT, on the other hand, have any right to enter into the womens knowledge but only arrived
there by invitation of the elder women and this invitation only extended to man reaching the
womens knowledge in a limited way and was highly restricted. Got that? The point is, this was
matriarchy (which is different to matrilineal, dont confuse these two.) The main point of these
initial paragraphs are to point out the rules of tobacco originated with the women, and the mans
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pipe (ancient tribal law for men) originated with women. A woman might exercise her right to
smoke a mans pipe but a man had no right to smoke a womans pipe. A woman smoking a mans
pipe is not recommended in these modern times because most women would not know (have the
cultural teaching) how to properly do this (something where even the men often come up short,
regarding the present times.)
Recalling an old Indian healer stating the only worthless person is someone who cannot
appreciate a good joke, Ill close these initial thoughts with a real life joke I pulled on a
ceremonial leader; he is gay, no big deal, celibate gays were among our tribes most effective
shamans, historically. This guy was sitting outside his sweat lodge, cleaning his mans pipe.
When he began to suck on the opening where the stem goes, to clear it, I told him, No, the other
end and he snorted his laugh through his nose.
If you are a so-called traditional Indian and you have a problem with these preceding
paragraphs, well, indeed you do have a problem, it is called a Christian cultural mentality,
pointing to the Jesuit poisoning of your cultural understanding.
The Rules of Tobacco
The ancient native world was separated into what I will call the heavy (when the women sent
their men to learn, to be healed, to war, the hunt, to council and to perform ceremony) and the
serene (which is supposed to be everything else.) Tobacco is central to the heavy.
Modern people seem to think they can own a native person of knowledge (get what they want)
by giving tobacco when in fact in the old way, the person you give tobacco to, actually owns
you. Lets do a hypothetical circumstance with healing, learning or ceremony employing the old
rules, as I have both witnessed or participated in, many times, here is example of seeking a
In the old way, when approaching a person of knowledge/healer (man or woman, if a woman is
the healer you employ a womans pipe you will not smoke with her if you are a man, this is set in
stone, if a woman recruiting a male, the reverse is generally but not always true), you bring
certain gifts, typically smudge, a blanket, prints (uncut cloth) of specified color(s) and you have
to catch them. If you can catch them (find them, if they know you are coming, it is perfectly
permissible to hide from you), they will sit and you must kneel and plead your case. To initiate
the relationship of healing, ceremony or learning, et cetera, the prints are to acknowledge spirit
and the blanket is about ceremonial respect for the earth, or sitting on the ground. This must be
acknowledged with gifts. The tobacco itself is communion and the smudge (typically
sweetgrass, proper cedar or a special pine) is communicating through spirit.
If the healer accepts (they are not required to) the pipe you have pointed at them, wedged into the
blanket and prints, they OWN YOUR LIFE. You have already failed in your own knowledge to
solve the problem by this time and this is why you seek out the healer. The healer will perhaps
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give physical remedies (especially if a medicine woman, less typically a man), and look at your
life, make some changes and return it to you with a new rule or set of rules (the anthropologists
might call these taboos but they really dont have a clue.) And you MUST live this, to honor
what you have set out to do. This same ceremonial surrender is required to initiate finding a
teacher, a trained ceremonial sponsor or person (for the duration of the ceremony beginning with
the acceptance) and much more.
What you see today, simply handing tobacco to someone, to get what you want, is patent bs.
How this came about is likely mixing up the giving tobacco ceremony (utilizing the pipe) with
the sincere native thank you gift of tobacco to someone you felt grateful to for some reason.
All that said, if you had example of someone come in looking for an elder, perhaps to ask advice,
you might see something like this: an old woman in a room apart, talking one on one, alone
except for the one other person. A new arrival might ask are they smoking which is an inquiry
into whether they are in deep discussion or council. It is a figure of speech alluding to more
formal proceeding on a larger scale of ceremony. If the answer is yes, they will not invade.
Maybe that person only brought tobacco. This would be like thanks in advance and is only
permissible within extended family or intimate associations with close relationship of
longstanding and does not apply to interaction as pertains to formal learning, ceremony and
healing. And there is so much more things are not as they were and traditional in the modern
day is a complete misapprehension of reality in too many cases to count. If by chance you know
how to submit yourself to women and are culturally in contact with some strict old ladies who
are willing to kick your butt until you can get it right, count your blessings because you might
become a real Indian in authentic sense of traditional

The sa-ar-si (Sarsi, Sarcee) people dont like their Blackfoot name. It means something like
doesnt listen or stubborn in a sense a native grandmother would be irritated with an out of
control child. It never bodes well to irritate the women.
There is one clan of Sa-ar-si that claims no Blackfoot descent (due to their pure luck of absence
from the area during a particular incident) in the history of the tribes the outsiders never hear
about because Us Indians dont air our dirty laundry in public as one Blackfoot had put it to
me. So these people stereotyped as noble red savages are burdened with more typical human
frailties despite the romantic view. Maybe certain Indians are not proud of everything that has
happened, as in in the case of the Sa-ar-si, and perhaps they just dont care to share history the
outsiders would not understand, in the case of the Blackfoot.
Related to this suppressed history and attending underlying behaviors, there is an incident of a
grandmothers discipline of a male Pikuni (southern Blackfeet or Piegan) child that stands out in
my memory. Indians allow children to learn from making mistakes, and one of the biggest
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mistakes you can make, is to piss off the women. This little kid (by his own admission, when
relating the story to me as an adult) was a real terror who simply would not listen. After the
fourth warning from an old lady (his grandmother), she suddenly grabbed this four year old by
his ear and pulling him to his toes with iron grip, she shoved her large buckskin stitching needle
through his outstretched ear and kept him like that for a long moment while she explained to him
the practical function of learning to listen.
Sort of like the Cheyenne women who guarded and refused to allow Custers body to be
mutilated, but put their buckskin sewing awls through Custers ears, so he would learn to listen
in the afterworld (to his own words, Custer was related to these women by a child hed had with
a woman of the Cheyenne southern branch and had promised he would never make war on his
relations, the Cheyenne.)
When the Sa-ar-si people encroached on Blackfoot territory, they not only refused to listen, they
were misbehaved. The record of this is sketchy but a few things are known. The Sa-ar-si broke
away from their main group in the north because they had no choice in the matter. A small tribe
cast adrift in hostile territory which does not belong to them, is invariably a group of miscreant
exiles. They had been expelled.
Reinforcing this is, when they necessarily entered into a hostile relationship with the Blackfeet
subsequently, the main group in the north did not come to their aid. The Blackfeet finally, after
the fourth warning, killed every Sa-ar-si male from puberty and up, every one of them (except
for an extended family group that happened to be absent.) After, the Sa-ar-si women were given
Blackfoot husbands, Blackfoot Sundance (Okan) and were told now you can stay.
When the one small group of Sa-ar-si whod been absent showed up and discovered what had
happened, they had no choice but to adopt the Blackfoot cosmos, with a decision taken I guess
we had better behave, we see what happens to people who dont listen. For whatever reason, this
entire event had been engineered at the insistence of (ordered by) the Blackfeet women, the Saar-si must have done something that really made the Blackfeet women angry.
Pointing to the practical aspect of matriarchy, the Sa-ar-si, although now entered into
the Blackfoot cosmos via Okan and Blackfoot tipi designs reflecting this, a requirement of
residing in Blackfoot territory, they did not adopt Blackfoot language because it is the women
educate all the children to the age of puberty, at which time the male children are exiled to male
society. Thus, the Sa-ar-si kept their distinct identity but now as a related people and hybrid
cultural entity.
Previous to this, there was a near identical reverse circumstance relating to the Blackfeet and
Crow. The Small Robes were an expatriate Blackfoot speaking band, belonging to the Crow
tribe. They had no choice but to adopt the Crow cosmos to occupy Crow territory, excepting
language. Because they had been rehabilitated as Crow Indians and because of the indisputable
rights of women in matriarchy determining they would keep Blackfeet language, the relationship
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to the greater Crow tribe in relation to the greater Blackfeet tribe, was one of circumspect
enemies with a great deal of respect. They recognized they were related. It was the women of
both tribes, determined this relationship. In the present day, if you go to a meeting of the Crow
council, it is yet clear who runs the show and its not the men. These people had been allowed to
keep a more traditional form of government (likely their reward for being army scouts)
If it was the women who sent the plains nations to war, and it certainly at times was, no
Blackfoot man wished to endure the public shaming they would receive from the women if they
did not do so, so far as the women would, in extreme case of male reluctance, sometimes
threaten to make up their own war parties and the men knew this would be followed through. It
was also the women made these men humble themselves in a case of a (senseless) war gone
wrong, such as when the Amskapi Pikuni (South Piegan branch of the Blackfeet) became
embroiled in a hard hitting war with the Atsina (Gros Ventres, Arapaho speaking former allies.)
This war had begun with a patent male stupidity, some members of the old Mutsaix (previous
incarnation of the Crazy Dogs, the old Brave Dogs warrior society) had made fun of an Atsina
warrior ritual and this caused a war of male pride. When the Blackfeet women had become
utterly exasperated with it, as a war that simply went on and did not wind down, they intervened
and the Blackfoot males were forced to adopt the ritual theyd made fun of, as an honorable
gesture to bring peace with the Atsina. This is the ritual dance you see to this day, at the
Blackfeet Crazy Dogs society events.

The Women Warriors

Always when there is a woman in the charge, it causes the warriors to vie with one another in
displaying their valor -Rain in the Face, Lakota
Moving Robe was a Lakota woman who was a leader of the initial counter-attack against
Custers surprise of the Sioux and Cheyenne camps at Little Big Horn.
Consistent with the statement of Rain in the Face, it is clear this was not a unique event
but had been repeated throughout Lakota history; because a womans leadership in war is long
known in the Plains tradition of warfare:
Moving Robe: One of the best-known battles in the annals of Indian-American warfare is the
1876 Battle of the Greasy Grass in Montana where Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer was
defeated. One of those who lead the counterattack against the cavalry was the woman
Tashenamani (Moving Robe)
Next, note the Crow chief and warrior Fallen Leaf, a person of great recognition, was married to
two women and this is not in any sense considered unusual:

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Fallen Leaf: While Fallen Leaf was a Crow warrior, she was actually born to the Gros Ventre
nation and was captured by the Crow when she was 12. After she had counted coup four times in
the prescribed Crow tradition, she was considered a chief and sat in the council of chiefs. In
addition to being a war leader, she was also a good hunter and had two wives
And we have two Cheyenne woman warriors, absolute peers to any male. The first, Buffalo Calf
Robe is accorded recognition for high valor in combat, equal to any man:
Buffalo Calf Robe: In the 1876 battle of the Rosebud in Montana, American troops under the
leadership of General Crook along with their Crow and Shoshone allies fought against the
Cheyenne and Lakota Sioux. The Shoshone and Crow shot the horse of Cheyenne Chief Comes in
Sight out from under him. As the warriors were closing in to finish him off, Buffalo Calf Robe
(aka Calf Trail Woman), the sister of Comes in Sight, rode into the middle of the warriors and
saved the life of her brother. This was considered to be one of the greatest acts of valor in the
When I move on to Pita-makan, our famous Blackfoot war chief, there is a special
noteworthiness in the Cheyenne warrior Yellow Haired Woman, per the notation of her
membership in a closed (to men) womens society:
Ehyophsta (Yellow-Haired Woman) was a Cheyenne woman. She was the daughter of Standsin-the-Timber. She fought in the Battle of Beecher Island in 1868, and also fought the Shoshone
that same year, where she counted coup against one enemy and killed another. She fought the
Shoshone again in 1869. She was also a member of a secret society composed exclusively of
Cheyenne women
With its many differing superficial details between tribes, original Plains culture (matriarchy) is
remarkably consistent nevertheless:
Pita-makan was the last great awau-katsik-saki (Blackfoot woman war chief). Her story
as commonly known in the literature is difficult to accept for the fact of male reporting on
her history, particularly the reporting of James Willard Shulz. Shulz was a self aggrandizing liar
who romanticized his life among a Christianized band of Pikuni (southern Blackfoot.) His
reports were from an European male perspective, for articles he sold to eastern publications.
Another complication would be any native narrative solely from the man perspective, there were
distinct oral histories, the womans and the mens. These histories would not differ so much in
metadata content, but in the nuance of the telling and the men refraining from telling womens
aspect of the history, which is the province of women. Nearly the entirety of history reported
from the Blackfeet nation has been from western cultural perspective, essentially male oriented
anthropological reporting and almost all of this reporting is unreliable.
What we can reliably know is, Peta-makan was a war chief of many years. She was successful in
war leadership against the Crow and Salish on multiple occasions. When she was killed during a
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raid, she was a war leader of the Braves Society. Her authority as a war chief was never
questioned by anyone. She never married and when at war, was considered in the eyes of the
Nitsiitapi (Blackfoot law of citizenship or the wider Blackfoot community) as equal to any man.
Pita-makan was highly respected by male Blackfoot society as the absolute equal of, and even
superior to, many competent male warriors in combat.
What has been unknown in the literature to now but we can also reliably know is, Peta-makan
would have been determined as suitable for leadership in war by the women who educated all
Blackfoot children to puberty. This would have happened when the Motokis leadership of the
Pikuni tribe, made this determination. The Motokis were the Blackfoot nations sole (and secret)
womens society that all Blackfeet women (and only women) belonged to.
Consequently Pita-maken would have been sent with the young Blackfoot males about her age to
become a Moskito when she entered higher education at early puberty. Pita-makans peer
group, when entering the male Moskitos society, would have averaged 9 to 12 years age and they
would be a band of brothers kept intact by tribal custom, throughout their lives. Blackfoot law
would determine Peta-makan advance through subsequent Blackfoot age-determined male
warrior societies, together with her peers throughout her war career. Subsequently we can know
as a member of the Braves society, she had advanced as a war leader to about age 40-44, when
she had been killed in combat by the Salish.
In her personal life, Peta-makan would have had a choice of whether to live as a man or woman
(she chose to be a woman and accordingly did not take a wife or wives but also did not marry
any man.)
It is worth mentioning here, the women had their own warrior tradition altogether distinct
from that of the men, as defenders of the camp. When the men were largely absent on the hunt or
at war, the women were organized as a military force and would engage any attempted
predations by enemy tribes.
The Plains women were absolutely entitled to exercise male rights and authority. When Id
initially asked Floyd HeavyRunner about a Blackfoot womans chief authority, whether their
rank put them a par with men, his answer was the women chiefs were a little bit higher

They [the Blackfeet] are plunged in coarse superstitions which brutalize their souls, they
worship the sun and the moon and offer them sacrifices and propitiation and thanksgiving Pierre-Jean DeSmet, Society of Jesus (Jesuit)
Lying was not a common phenomena in the ancient Native American world. Likely this stems
from the fact a high value was placed on interpretation of reality as accurately, factually as
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possible. Not only would this factual perception of reality through reliable reporting lend itself to
survival in an existence fraught with danger, it would lead to a tendency to develop a high state
of personal evolution.
There is a story of occasion where the Salish had captured a Blackfoot warrior, I do not recall his
name, and tied him to a post at the center of their camp. The community then had gathered to
witness his death by torture. The point of the torture was to see if this warrior could be made to
cry, as he was slowly cut to bits. If this could be accomplished, it could then be reported back to
the Blackfeet people how their warrior was weak when faced with death. It would never occur to
the Salish to send a false report of the mans behavior when meeting his end.
As it happened, this warrior fully being cognizant of the purpose of his death ritual, devised a
strategy to circumvent the intended outcome. When the Salish man with first right to begin
slicing him with a knife had approached and proceeded to cut and taunt the Blackfoot, the
Blackfoot had kept his cool and returned insults as to be so vile, the Salish lost his temper and
swiftly killed the Blackfoot in a rage. And this fact of circumstance of death is what was reported
to the Blackfeet people.
The arrival of the Jesuits changed all this. If the destruction of the Buffalo had destroyed the
Blackfoot nation physically, it was the Jesuits broke the spiritual back of the community. The
Jesuits destroyed the lived truth of these people, destroyed the equilibrium between the sexes,
destroyed the respect they had enjoyed in relation to each other as a whole and destroyed their
spiritual relationship with nearly everything under the Sun. Here is how it happened:
It was inconceivable to the Indians a lie would be told by holy people. As Floyd HeavyRunner
had precisely, correctly stated, this phenomena was exploited by the Jesuits, when using the
Blackfeet women to make their inroad into the spiritual life of the community. It was the
tempting (and subversive) idea if the Blackfeet community would embrace the Jesuit philosophy
of only ONE man had to die, to correct everything in the afterlife, these women would be
reunited with the many fine men they had lost to the extreme peril of historical Blackfoot
existence, an existence that claimed a disproportionate number of men. The woman allowed the
Jesuit Nicolas Point (sent among the Blackfeet by Father DeSmet) to arrange the education of a
number of children and in a single years time, with children taught Original Sin caused all of
our worlds ills and this is the fault of WOMAN who is cursed, and that because ONE man died,
you may be excused from taking responsibility for your own actions in this life, the damage was
done. By the time these woman realized a great mistake had been made, it was too late. If these
children had been killed outright per the native philosophy of eliminating any ugly life
aberration, the Blackfeet would have been better off per their own cultural view, but the law of
Blackfeet citizenship these new aberrations violated, in a paradox, prevented this. Nor would the
consequence of not killing these children be seen immediately, it had to wait for them to grow up
and see the infection mature.

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The result had been, in a single generation, fratricide, it came to this; certain men had begun
abusing women and became rapists, nearly unknown social phenomena in previous times.
Subsequently, the worst of these among the Pikuni became exiles, they were pushed out and
formed a distinct breakaway tribal entity. This in turn saw the groups Pikuni men experience
their women turning on them and become killers of their husbands, when the Blackfoot womens
warrior tradition in egalitarianism became socially inverted (these Blackfeet families know who
they are, its not important to identify them by name here.)
This preceding is but early example of what occurred on a society-wide scale, with the badly
damaged larger Blackfoot nation forced onto reservations and the subsequent kidnapping of
entire generations of children into missions for education. Life became a lie and the law of
Niitsitapi as had been known and practiced for countless generations, had become largely dead.
It was the great priest of Okan, Brings Down the Sun, made it his life mission to correct these
mistakes in the Pikuni people. Recognizing the new Christian way could not be rolled back, one
compromise he tried to make was to advise women to begin to submit to their husbands, but this
was not easily swallowed by the women. What finally happened was, a compromise of Okan and
other Blackfoot practices pursued distinctly and altogether separately from the Christianity
forced onto these people, one might belong to both but they were carefully separated, never
mixed. But these were never again Indian people in any sense close to what had been, lying and
abuse of women has become a way of life in the case of by far too many Indians to count. And
since the forced mission education days, the added curse of inter-generational pedophilia has
gained a foothold as well. Of course the Jesuits will NEVER take responsibility for having
wreaked this havoc, they can always arrange to be forgiven
Christians are the meanest people on Earth -Pat Kennedy
All that said, my experience has been, because of the unique traditions which had survived in
small pockets, I discovered some of the finest, most brave, generous, kind and ethical people in
this world, whilst living among the modern Blackfeet.

I had stated I would be giving away medicine secrets in this series initial essay. Here is
something almost no one knows or understands anymore.
The bird you have affinity with is the one that talks to you. You can make a small experiment to
determine this. When you walk in nature, allow your thoughts to be free, to roam where they will
with no concentration to control. A little bit like daydream but no specified subject. If it happens
there is a bird calls at that very moment a point is made, seen or discovered in your wandering
thoughts, a sort of conclusion, this bird has just spoken to you (in the mind, not only the ear.)

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The birds are the messengers who can pass understanding of events to you, to (among other
things) know if a thought is correct.
If you can learn to do this in such a competence as to become easy or natural with the
experience, it is the bird most often speaks to you, is your affinity. There you have it, how people
were integrated to nature in times past. This is example of what had been normal.
To learn to accomplish this in practical reality would be difficult for many within the modern
mindset. Men, particularly, would experience difficulty with this exercise in female
intelligence. The reason is, Judeo-Christian cultural shaping, mental stricture and taboo on the
exercise of a feminine understanding of reality in Western Civilization (which has taken over the
world.) In order for there to be a rise of civilization, people had to come under the control of
male dominated thinking or hierarchy.
Mosaic law is one example, where there is prohibition of sorcerers and necromancers, a
crude demonizing of female intelligence to preserve the male hierarchy. Examples related to this
sort of control would be (about equally) Saudi Arabia executing women as witches and western
science panning any understanding of female intelligence that cannot be achieved via the
constricted logic of empirical method; both science and religion are firmly rooted in a cultural
system that fears and condemns or persecutes anything which threatens the ascendancy of male
thought (and hence male hierarchy.) Civilization and civilized man are both determined this
understanding of the female Nature is not to be acknowledged because it is a threat to male
dominance. In the greater male hierarchys endeavor to suppress the feminine, the gynophobic
Plato and the God of Abraham are peers, little different to the misogynist Confucius who serves
this same purpose.
So, to understand the birds is tricky, it is important not to fool oneself, with how this works. The
most common mistake (in the modern mentality) is when the bird makes its call, this can evoke
another thought instantly from the self (not the bird) and you miss what the bird said, the thought
the bird has brought has already been pushed aside by your thought and the real information is
missed. This mistake is consequence of male oriented culture shaping the modern mind
(regardless of skin color, were nearly all apple indians these days.) Simply put, the alien (to
original native thought process) ego wont shut up and will be in your way. Why thank you,
Jesuits and the boarding schools, for making the males, nearly all of us Native males, into
modern whore-boys who, when were not busy chasing skirts while trying to get our dicks wet,
only know how to run our mouths and cannot know how to listen. The consequence likely will
be males who think they actually get this, are only hearing what their subliminal ego entity
wishes them to hear. Those women with less male shaped mentalities, particularly those women
less educated in science and least indoctrinated in religion, will have better outcome in
overcoming the modern mentality obstruction, and more likely achieve understanding of this
natural phenomena.

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It cannot hurt to recall here, the modern ego construct mentality, considered normal in western
culture, is a construct which had been diagnosed and treated as a mental disorder in the ancient
Plains culture. Modern Indians who most suffer from the modern mentality are least aware they
suffer the problem and this is ultimate irony because it is those Indians who most loudly strut the
proposed idea they are traditional are those who most suffer from the modern mental disorder
(and you can forget about the western anthropology program euphemistically named native
studies altogether.)
Another mistake is to expect you can discover something you wish to know with this. This
second one is a mistake because it is not about what we think is important to know, but rather
what nature (the spirit) thinks is important for us to know. This is again, the western cultures
male ego issue, unknown in the native past. This is why the point is made to NOT control the
direction of thinking, for the process to actually work.
As for broadcasting versus receiving (the modern mind is stuck in broadcast mode and mostly
cannot receive) et cetera, there is much, much more to know, but I expect this is challenge
enough and will end it here, renamed Birds 101

Cosmos & Cosmology

The order of priority in the ancient native way had been:
1) The great community or cosmos (interpreted as territory)
2) The environment (within the cosmos)
3) The nation (within the environment)
4) The clan/band (within the nation)
5) The family (within the band)
6) The self (within the family)
This essay will point to the considerable difficulties inherent in maintaining the elements
necessary to any authentic Native American spiritual awareness in relation to ones surroundings
and oneself.
To begin, there requires an intimate understanding of a living cosmos. To know a living cosmos
requires a unique relationship to environment, commonly misconceived as a relationship solely
to the land. Its actually much bigger than this. To have some beginning idea of this cosmos, one
must surrender any thought of I and me because you cannot exist in this cosmos as an
individual entity. Without the cosmos, you dont exist. Within the cosmos, you cannot exist as an
individual. This is because all of the cosmos is integrated. In the ancient Native American way,
your cosmos is reflected (interpreted) as a territory where all is a single organism made up of
inter-dependent parts, including every individual, and not only persons but every individual of
every species, and whats more, every stone and tree, down to each individual blade of grass.
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The Blackfeet had their cosmos. The Blackfeet neighbors, whether Cree, Sioux, Crow,
Cheyenne, Salish, or Shoshone, had their cosmos, each its own functioning universe with unique
cosmology, within this concept. This had been the template on which Native American spiritual
understanding had functioned; at the macro-level. To have a relationship to, and within, this
cosmos, required a functional understanding of attending cosmology, that can be interpreted as
laws immutably tied to the physical environment sustained within this cosmos. MOST
IMPORTANTLY, this cosmos is its own self-conceptualizing, aware, seeing entity, a feeling or
sentient being; in and of itself. YOU are ultimately unimportant to this cosmos -except- you
were to know your place within this cosmos and that is the point of the cosmology.
Per example of this, I will point to the work of Karl Schlesier where he noted the Chiricahua
Apache precursor people had asked the spirit of the land to accept them when migrating into
those lands they were subsequently discovered to inhabit; by encroaching European culture.
The original indigenous tradition required an aware, seeing, sentient being or cosmos accept
those who would inhabit it; and to accomplish this integration had little to with exploiting
environment and everything to do with finding a niche contributing to the cosmos health.
Finding this place for an entire people determines whether you have a successful spiritual life
and we are still a long ways from discussing the spiritual life of any individual person, or the
bottom of the hierarchy.
Already, the implications are quite profound; not only would those of European cultural heritage
be far removed from authentic Native American spiritual experience, but so would many who
actually believe they are Native American .. because cosmology had been embedded in the native
languages and those languages stories. It would be the case in every instance where a tribal
people had lost their language, they had also lost their cosmology and authentic relationship to
their cosmos.
Moreover, every tribal council applying the Western cultures economic principles of exploiting
resources is removed from their own cosmos and cosmology. Its not just White people these
days. How it came to this is not the subject of these essays; the point is to go to the facts on the
ground in the present. In the next essay we will go to the environment and the fact from an
ancient indigenous perspective, a cosmos doesnt care whether your skin is Red or White. The
road to health in any living cosmos would be equally challenging for both.

Cosmos & Environment

Ive given a LOT of thought, over time, to try and bring across some semblance of intelligent
description to Western terminology; of how a concept of deity is grasped within the environment
recalling the Native hierarchy:

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1) The great community or cosmos (interpreted as territory)

2) The environment (within the cosmos)
3) The nation (within the environment)
4) The clan/band (within the nation)
5) The family (within the band)
6) The self (within the family)
Our existence is Macro-Gaia (in the big picture) or all is [inter] related, from sub-atomic particle
to planetary structures, with an element of Vitalism (the great mystery), taken together
presenting as quasi or mimic intelligent design. The intelligent design would be quasi because
the native take on this aspect would be better described as intelligent expression, design implies
an egoic projection or attribution, whereas expression should not. This thought goes to the
native persona of humility: There are some things one simply cannot know.
Within the environment, which is perceived as social rather than physical, all surrounding natural
phenomena is perceived as intelligent expression. ALL. There is no western concept of God
within this expression, and what might translate as gods and heroes from the cosmology, are
the lessons drawn from historical markers integrated to natural events, whether celestial, earthly
or in some combination.
When the environment is seen as social, permission is required to pursue not only specific
activities within this community, but even to exist. Because the environment is seen as not only
aware, but socially aware, there is an greater understanding of impacts directly relevant to
undertaking responsibility; this is an environment with the ability to identify specific actions and
react accordingly. From this aspect is drawn the native value of self-restraint; not only does any
nation hosted within an environment possess no right whatsoever to aggressively exploit, the
environment has the power to expel any nation inimical to its health.
Noting the horns sprouting on my forehead, it occurs to myself to mention in relation to the
immediate preceding; if any indigenous person who perchance did not speak their language but
in the English of the Europeans having read here and thought to themselves But I knew that! ..
this would only go to demonstrate any Whiteman could know the same.
It should be noted this aware social environment required a different development of
intelligence; where there is a necessary system of practical communication. Herein lies the
difference between the isolated and remote from reality dreams of the Western culture and the
larger sense of dreaming of the ancient Native American. Where everything in ones
surrounding is awake and aware puts focus on developing intelligence external to the narrow
confines of any individual self; in the words of Karl Schlesier:
to be open to the mysteries of the natural world and its manifestations, to be sensitive, aware of
the manifold possibilities of seeing the world, to be free and unhampered in ones thinking, to be
generous and kind in regard to others, to let everything have its own voice
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To let everything have its own voice is inclusive of all of those things the Platonic-Cartesian of
the Western world has denied as a matter of static perception in the pursuit of knowledge
focusing on the human species presumably the sole species capable of conscious awareness; but
this lens had been a trap. As the Western culture has made its advances within a framework of
quite literal subjective damage while dismantling its surroundings in a thirst to
know (individual ego & related greed, actually), it had been inevitable the blind futility of this
approach should manifest; as when theoretical physicist Bernard dEspagnat can state:
The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human
consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by
In which case the Native American dream awareness has been quite consistent; as we see
creatures going away due to our denying them the right to exist, we see our own right to exist
vanishing as well. One only must consider the amount of damage to reality (our surroundings)
required to develop Western Civilization to a point of building laboratory models leading to atom
smashers necessary to arrive at what had already been known. As things stand today, our cosmos
are well underway in the process of expelling our nations .. in that were surrendering our right
to exist, a subject to explore in the following essay.

Cosmos & The Nation

The Nation, to incorporate to the environment, had to integrate to the intelligence of the cosmos.
This integration required merging two kinds of consciousness; female and male. The result had
been androgynous thought reflected in the many genders in the language; where these many
gender actually reflect the many varying degrees of androgyny in the observed processes of
nature from whence the ancient ways of knowledge had been derived. This salient fact is what
altogether set the ancient intelligence apart from the modern. The parallel I would draw is this:
the two human brains, right & left, female & male, were not split as is reflected in modern
experience. Awake time had its consistent dream element and sleep time was consistently
informed with lucid dreaming. Never was a strict line drawn between, or boundary established,
between the two. One reality was as valid as the other. Or, perhaps better said, they were never
considered to be distinctly separate reality or experience. This integrated intelligence is what had
made it possible for the Nation to exist within the social context of nature (or environment)
within the cosmos. This unique (by comparison to the modern) integration is what enabled sight
capable of reading the language of other creatures, inclusive of trees, even stones. Also, within
this integrated framework existed a greater intelligence where time could be perceived in
motion; a living clock could be its description. A Nations collective ability to read this clock
was an utilitarian principle allowing for the Nation to function as an organism within the
environment hosted within the cosmos. Everything remained attuned within this clock, of which

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the Nation was a functional part (of the clocks many parts, inclusive of other nations such as
the elk, antelope and bison.)
How delicate cultures can be is reflected in how the nations became dismembered. Already under
pressures on account of European expansion and technology exerting forces preceding the actual
Whites arrival, for example the necessity to acquire guns to compete with tribes being pushed
into their territories, the Pikuni nation (a Blackfoot branch) was in a high state of male mortality.
This was to have unforeseen consequence where the nations disintegration actually began before
any organized attempt to bring these people to heel by government. The disintegration began
with the poisoning of the nation by the Jesuits.
It was a mistake made by the women. The Small Robes band of Pikuni Blackfoot, also some
other Pikuni aligned with them, invited the Jesuit DeSmet into their band, when they met him on
a visit to the Salish. DeSmet learned their stories and subverted them (the stories) to Christian
ideology. He accomplished this with convincing the women only one man had to die and if they
celebrated that one death, they would be reunited with all the men theyd lost; in a paradise of
This deeply appealing (to the women) idea set loose in a world where lies were an almost
inconceivable phenomena and lies about matters of spirit were beyond comprehension, turned
Blackfoot society on its head in a single generation. DeSmet assigned two priests to followup on
his stay with the Blackfeet and they were allowed (by the women) to educate a group of children.
That fact destroyed the fabric of Blackfoot society, upending the principles of matriarchy. This
infection of the Blackfoot mentality was the cause of future generations of women taught to
submit to men and all balance was lost. This in turn made the men weak.
Over a longer period, this infection of Western thinking caused all of the males to become weak
and ignorant by comparison to the ancients; because they lost their integrated intelligence or
androgynous conceptual thought beginning with the Jesuit poisoning of Blackfoot understanding.
Illustrating this, there is an interesting piece of Blackfoot oral history that is a revisionism,
related to McClintock in his The Old North Trail. Here you see a modern original sin story
where the Blackfoot male at fault is named Motokis. This is interesting for two facts; it was
Blackfeet men whod capitulated to Christianity informed McClintock in oral history and the fact
the storys male protagonist name is Motokis, the name of the universal society of Blackfeet
women whod been the source of matriarchal intelligence. The cynicism of the Jesuits is stark, to
use this name in a story manufactured to educate future generations of Blackfoot children to the
idea of womens intelligence being a source of bad luck.
The main group of the Small Robes associated with DeSmet suffered a terrible fate; when their
men were wiped out by the Crow and the survivors became a Blackfeet speaking satellite band of
the Crow nation. The other Pikuni group, those who did not suffer the Small Robes fate, were

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subsequently expelled by the larger Pikuni nation because the children educated by the Jesuits
matured into pedophiles and rapists.
It happened that fast. The surrender (or poisoning) of native intelligence fractured the nation
within the environment, and for all practical purposes, the environment integrated, living entity
had ceased to exist

Cosmos & The Clan

Within the circumstance of the nations beginning disintegration (dismemberment) there were the
several aspects of a web that could be described as a tapestry. This aspect of reality were a weave
of tensile strength made up of several societies, clans and bands determining all of a greater
Blackfoot society of nations, of which there were ultimately five, Siksika, Kainah, Amskapi
Pikuni, Skinee Pikuni (derogatory) or Aputosi Pikuni, and the Sarci (who are a Den
amalgamated or half sibling nation.) The Atsina were associated but not related in a siblings
sense. Taken together, these were the so-called Blackfoot Confederacy which is a Whitemans
label that is inaccurate. Excepting the Atsina, this was not a political association, rather instead
were a larger alignment of closely related peoples or nations with a common concept of
citizenship called Niitsitapi. Recalling
1) The great community or cosmos (interpreted as territory)
2) The environment (within the cosmos)
3) The nation (within the environment)
4) The clan/band (within the nation)
5) The family (within the band)
6) The self (within the family)
this citizenship was interwoven throughout the nations but more specifically per nation in
several ways. In some respect the several Blackfoot nations were consider to be clans of the
Niitsitapi or overall recognition of a relationship between what are more properly nations in their
own right. In this respect we could define the several Blackfoot divisions as nation-clans.
Within any single nation, for instance the Amskapi Pikuni where I am related most closely, we
have (speaking only of the males) patrilineal descent within what had been a system of
matriarchy. Of my Pikuni parents (by native kinship law), my father was a Black Door and my
mother belonged to the Worm Clan. This determines I am a Black Door. Now, had I been of the
ancient times, in simplified terms it would have gone something like this:
As a male I would have been a lifetime member of the all friends which makes a brother of
every Blackfoot male throughout the several nations in a warrior tradition. As a Black Door, I
would be the relative (brother) of every male or daughter of that clan, no matter which nation and
affiliated band, as well as, a member of my nation and band. All of these interwoven
relationships are pointed to integrated social fabric where we had consensus (elected) band
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chiefs, hereditary chiefs, society chiefs and chiefs as determined by the Motokis who had a large
say (in former times, close to absolute authority) in affairs of the nation. None of these chiefs
were an authority in their own right within the community with the exception of those drawing
their authority from the Motokis (and this authority was specific to certain matters) and very
term chief should not be looked at in terms of the western cultures hierarchy. In almost all
cases, each were a spokesperson for the several societies, families, clans and or bands. A
spokesperson. Nothing more.
The point of this devolved and interwoven leadership had been to gain as clear a view possible of
the cosmos; pertaining to any direction taken within the nation. The needs of the cosmos, the
maintenance of the cosmos health, and the conforming of the nation to demands of the cosmos,
was primary, all else came after. With many eyes and ears attuned to the environment within the
cosmos, what was looked for in the nation, in a foundation of government established at the band
level, was consistency of perception. Prior to the split of Native American consciousness, these
many eyes & ears gave intelligently informed, consistent and wide view of all elements
necessary to receive direction as determined by the cosmos .. stemming from interpretation of
Nature with sight unknown in the modern world. Essentially there was a well founded,
unmitigated trust in this greater collective view of reality. This system had allowed for sensible
living for millennia; that is until the Europeans had arrived.
The infection of (an eventually enforced) Christian mentality and thinking upended all of it. This
alien concept of a primal male ego, that is God, and the fact any self-centered act, no matter
how damaging to the cosmos and all life therein, could be forgiven, became the great destroyer
of the Native nations with the destruction of intelligent sight. It is an European death cult had
destroyed Pikuni life within the cosmos

Cosmos & The Family

The females were all educated by the Motokis society, to which no male ever belonged or was
admitted to. This secret tradition is therefore a matter on which I cannot comment except to say
anything which has been written about the Motokis in modern times is almost certainly
perverted-poisoned by Christian influences and consequent male view.
In the male educational tradition, if the band were largely an extended family made up of mostly
cousins (1st cousin & brother are the same word, likewise uncle & father and so forth) as a
matter of cultural habit, the nuclear families within the band were those several parts making up
a clans patrilineal education system. Similar, but not precisely identical, to government, the male
education reflected both consistency and diversity. In this case, had I been a male of former
times, chances are most of those surrounding me would be Black Doors and this tradition would
be the bands primary education model at the nuclear family level. Additional (compulsory)
education would be the province of the warrior societies and elective education could be found in
the medicine societies.
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Throughout ones life, defying the western stereotype of shiftless, lazy Indians, so-called
leisure time was much preoccupied with education.
When necessity of acquiring western technology (firearms) preceded the actual arrival of the
Whites, this new pressure had already begun breaking this system down, through the erosion of
values. To acquire guns required violating the most basic tenets and associated values of ones
education to sustain life within the cosmos. This requirement was reflected in the so-called fur
trade where the Beaver Nation (mostly) was assaulted and nearly driven to extinction. With the
new steel traps, the Pikuni (and nearly every other native human nation) set out to alter the
cosmos as the skins of their sacred companions were harvested en mass, setting into motion a
chain of events; whiskey came with the steel traps & firearms they traded the beaver pelts for
and the rank and deep fear (a new concept) of what they were doing within the cosmos, created
the opening for alcohol to make deep inroads into Pikuni society.
This knocking the cosmos out of balance had been deceptive in the perception of ones
surrounding in the environment. Already dealt a death-blow, the dying cosmos appeared to live
on; very much like the individual cells of a complex organism die over time following a mortal
blow and cessation of brain function. There could be breath went on for awhile but then this
ceases as well. At the end, a corpses hair and nails continue to grow for a bit longer. This may
sound harsh but is an accurate reflection of what had happened since; within the families whod
kept their traditions more intact, in vicinity of vestiges of undisturbed nature, the original
knowledge continued (in ever diminishing form.)
Contrast this to the modern tribal council and its western economic development model and here
I will note a few salient examples of how we, as native peoples, have embraced a lie; the native
corporation throughout Canada and Alaska, the Navaho tribal council forcing through gambling
after itd been twice rejected by tribal referendum, the Navaho tribal council forcing electricity
(with attending television) on all rural or remote households against the will of those wishing to
keep to tradition (and off the grid), the Shoshone-Arapaho of Wyoming chasing the antelope to
extinction on their reservation with all terrain vehicles, the Blackfeet of Montana aspiring to get
a family member into tribal council so it will be our turn to loot that nations resources, such as
clear cutting the Hudson Divide of premium house logs, sold to sawmills off the reservation
while the Amskapi Pikuni throughout have suffered chronic-critical housing shortage. And those
many tribal members employed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs whove made a career of
bringing the nations into the modern concept (while stealing the people blind), those several
nations where one faction gained control over another faction and expelled their own people with
dis-enrollment (such as the Cree had done to many of the Chippewa at Rocky Boy) and it just
goes on. Tell me; just who among these can claim to be Indian?

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Cosmos & The Self

Finally, we have reached that space where it becomes clear what had been expected of every
individual at the level of microcosm. Essentially there was an expected practical behavior; under
pinned in approach to life along these lines:
The ancient Blackfoot approached life like this every impact, down to so much as a bruised
blade of grass, in the course of going about anything, whether daily sustenance or whatever,
generated awareness of impact. This in turn demands a life of right action in relation to all
things, as ones life foundation, to live in the balance. It is within the cosmos living clock this
principle was observed and followed in such a way as to discover what would be gifted to
sustain the people. In the western culture Jung observed this principle as synchronicity but I will
the note the Pikuni knew how to read the clock, it wasnt coincidence.
This preceding demanded an integrated approach that precluded ego in the western sense .. it was
never about me but about sustaining a system of perpetual motion which depended on all; right
down to awareness of impact to the single blade of grass and the correct action or lived
awareness demanded of that fact. Development of the individual was integrated to the whole of
it all, precluding any practical separation. As this system of perpetual motion moved through the
seasons, this living clock was acknowledged with ceremony. Everyone in the ancient way could
read this movement until the Europeans arrived. And we should all know the consequence of this
new education.
Now, when we flip a light switch, everything it had meant to honor life within the cosmos is
dishonored in a practical sense for the sake of convenience. Think about it. Whether solar, wind
generator, hydro-electric, gas-fired, strip-mined coal or nuclear generated; you just contributed to
death within the cosmos with so small an act as the flip of a switch. Each of these systems
required dealing death within the cosmos, to construct a grid that is putting the planet to death.
This gives me a cynical laugh when considering the circumstance of people paying for plane
tickets to attend workshops on what it means (or meant) to be Native American. Whether these
are new age self-delusional souls seeking meaning or modern tribal mentalities meeting to
consult on issues of culture, one is no different to the other, each has just contributed to death
within the cosmos. And the cosmos doesnt care whether your skin is Red or White. Quoting
Karl Schlesier, a son, brother and father to three generations of Cheyenne Arrow Keepers:
In the long and disturbing history of Indian-White relations in North America there have been
other Whites, men and women, who became full fledged members and shared the fate of the
tribes in the struggle for survival. These, often, had been taken as prisoners when young, and
they grew up with new siblings and new parents and a new, wide range of relationships. They
were not discriminated against because in the old world of the tribes skin color never mattered;
what mattered were the expressions of ones spirit and the voice of the heart. But adoption by a
human alone was not enough. The adoptee had to open himself/herself to the spirit world of the

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specific tribe and had to be embraced by it. Thus, adoption was made final or was denied on the
highest spiritual level beyond a first move made by adoptive elders
What Karl is referring to, is whether to environment within the cosmos had embraced the
concerned individual; as would have been recognized in the long ago lived philosophy or the
foundation all had been based on, in the living clock .. recalling the order of priority in caring for
1) The great community or cosmos (interpreted as territory)
2) The environment (within the cosmos)
3) The nation (within the environment)
4) The clan/band (within the nation)
5) The family (within the band)
6) The self (within the family)
What chance do you suppose the spirit will recognize ANYONE in a so-called native studies
program, where light switches are flipped everyday; to study in the western cultures classroom
at the same university hosting departments teaching the European civilizations philosophy and
technology? This, contrasted to; in the ancients days, one would not so much as consider any
association with any entity at odds with living intelligently in the cosmos. Forget romantic love;
if your interest did not bring harmony into the family at the nuclear level, the relationship would
never develop. This is because you have no right to disturb the peace of any other, and on
realizing that person or institution interested in associating with you would be in conflict with the
values upholding your family, within the band, within the nation, within the environment, within
the cosmos, is antithetical to the greater social health; you would, at the individual level, deny
any possibility of a relationship developing. Already, if we have elders approve sending us to
university, we can see how lost our peoples have become.

Cosmos & Consciousness

Of course it is unrealistic to expect we can live again as had been in the past; in modern times
where our nations cosmos as wed known them, no longer exist. The first step to experience any
event other than altogether completed extinction, is to recognize our nations previous
circumstance cannot be recovered. Any pretense to the contrary is a self-deceit. That was then,
this is now and everything is changed. As the living clock moves to erase humanity as we know
ourselves in the present, one should look at where might any possible remedy be within reach. To
discover such an avenue would require the great mystery again recognize our value as a species.
That most changed has been our mentality, and certainly not for the better. Related to this, the
European mentality which has overtaken us will end in one of three ways, in this order of
possibility; 1) we will see this culture blow itself to bits, together with all the rest of humanity 2)
social-environmental collapse will bring everyone down, no matter their role or possible
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intention or 3) self-dismantlement. Our duty is to work for this third, most remote possibility. To
accomplish this, the first priority is to point as many people as possible (no matter the color of
their skin) to disconnect from the grid. To disconnect absolutely will require recovering from the
poison of the Western cultures thinking.
The essential beginning would be renewed practical thinking that can be recognized as healthy
by the cosmos. Without this, there is no future for any of the human species. In fact, without
enough of this, there is no human future, no matter had some small communities accomplished a
recovery or preserved some understanding of what it meant to live in the clock where all had
been balanced. This would require a lot of people. And you dont get a lot of people with
prejudices of whether someone is White or Cree. You arrive in that space by shutting out
stupid people and opening to intelligent people, no matter their relationship to you, tribal
affiliation or color of skin. Recreating a healthy cosmos would require solely people who
understand how not to step on other beings lives. And that fact excludes many tribal people and
includes people with no tribal affiliation. If there is any future people, it is those who can put
European cultural mentality out of their lives, no matter their origins. What would be the test?
For those raised primarily in European culture, this will be a more difficult road; except for those
in the native world whod sold out altogether or have become too stupid to understand theyre
stupid (perhaps the harshest reality.) The Europeans because they do not know how to be silent
and listen (to nature.) And those natives who believe a Red skin makes them Indian (as opposed
to the fact they are e.g. culturally Blackfoot-Americans little different to Irish-Americans.)
So, who among us native peoples will put television entirely out of our lives and the lives of our
children? Who with more money will, instead of buying a new car, rather pay a native language
granny to teach our pre-school children and the children of our neighbor without funds to do the
same? Who will have the courage to stand up to the band councils and tell them its going to be
this way and now get out of our business?
What Europeans would have the courage to pool their resources to buy land or other means to
pull up fences and turn land back to the cosmos to mend, declaring it belongs to none other than
life? And fight for the right to hand the land back, as well refuse their children educations
intended to prop up a state that exploits with endless development? To be willing to have their
children taught an alien language incorporating values far removed from Western Civilization
and its historical ideals?
Who, between the two communities preceding, would have the courage to care for and depend
on each other in a growing environment of trust where the White child is educated no differently
to the Red; where the only idea worthy of spiritual reverence is the idea this world is not ours, it
belongs to all life, where we have clearly demonstrated to step out of place is to step out of
everything it could possibly mean to live in any positive way. And tell everyone else there is no
place here for stupid

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Even with all of this accomplished, it falls short, if you cannot clearly grasp your life is no more
important than a beaver your ancestor either trapped or traded for. There are no innocent parties.
So, what is consciousness? Certainly it is not the self-aware preoccupied ego (its all about
me) of European concept. Consciousness is the gift of the cosmos to an entity that is an
organism of many parts .. in which humans have become a cancer. Consciousness is nothing
more and nothing less

The Condensed Lesson:

At a certain level, its pretty funny Plato had it wrong and Indians running around in breechcloths had it right. Heres one to print out and give to people to think about:
The theoretical physicist Bernard dEspagnat states: The doctrine that the world is made up of
objects whose existence is independent of human consciousness turns out to be in conflict with
quantum mechanics and with facts established by experiment
Consider that and then have a look at how it is Indians were thinking:
In 1918 Christian missionary A. McG. Beede took Yale graduate Harry Boise to the Standing
Rock Sioux and Turtle Mountain Chippewa reservations on separate occasions, where Boise
explained scientific ideas to tribal leaders. Beede wrote in his report that both groups
immediately understood the concepts without difficulty, saying: There is no difficulty in leading
an old Teton Sioux Indian to understand the scientific attitude that the processes that give rise
to phenomena may be more and more known by man and may be, to some extent, controlled by
man, and that in this way the forces of nature may become a mainspring of progress in the
individual and in the human race. The idea of atoms and electrons is easy and pleasing to an old
Indian, and he grasps the idea of chemistry. -Vine Deloria, Evolution, Creationism, and Other
Modern Myths
The two tribal groups spokesmen replied to Harry Boise, following discussion among
The scientific view is inadequate to explain how man is to find and know a road along
which he wishes and chooses to make this said progress, unless Manitoo by his spirit, guides the
mind of man, keeping human beings just and generous and hospitable -Rising Sun, Chippewa
The knowledge and use of any or all the powers of the objects on Earth around us, is as liable
to lead a man wrong as to lead him right, because it is merely power, with no way of knowing
how to use it correctly- except that spirit is with a mans spirit for the light -Red Tomahawk,

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When Rising Sun says Manitou by his spirit he is speaking of collective creation, our very
surroundings are intelligence integrated to nature. When Red Tomahawk says spirit is with a
mans spirit, he is saying the same thing, both these men, at the end of their cultures many
millennia era of knowledge, are looking at what dEspangnat stumbles upon nearly 100 years
later; recognizing consciousness embodied in our surroundings plays in everything we
Moreover, Red Tomahawk is discriminating between intimate knowledge of any objects raw
power, and an understanding of the nature of something, recognizing these are distinct things.
His understanding (different to the European concept) opens to the possibility of allowing for the
trees, stones, or for that matter, everything surrounding us, to possess consciousness and to
know purpose exterior to our (western) self-centered cultural shaping. And it is only when this
door of understanding is opened, we can know how to listen, know the timing (the knowledge
of creation as synchronized, to grasp nature as a living clock), and to see our way through, as
the nearly extinct Native thought embodied in now past elders so often attempted to point out to
us, when pointing to its all related.
Now days, when modern Indians hear, say or think the words Our Creator .. they think along
the lines of god. Well, they missed it. When the old people of past times stated Our Creator,
they were looking at our surroundings (creation), at the very expressions nature has given birth
to, at a process which nurtures and sustains us. These days, truth be told, Native peoples have
become as dumb as the Whiteman. Whod have expected stupidity could be a contagious disease
(looking around you, anyone?)
Post script would be, it wouldnt matter if you had all the technical ceremonial knowledge on
earth memorized, if you dont grasp the preceding in a practical approach to life, youre just

On Keeping a Pipe
Not just anybody would keep a pipe. Well begin with what is required to keep a pipe in the
context of the old Plains Cultures, which, with their many superficial differences, were
nevertheless essentially identical in core principles.
The classic Plains T pipe represents the Law of Matriarchy to which every man is bound.
Everyone who partakes of this pipe in ceremony is expected to understand (have been taught the
core principles) what this law demands of the community. Essentially, this law requires setting
the self aside with a demand the greater good is to be found in prioritizing devotion to the whole.
To keep a pipe is to bind oneself to this primary core principle at a high level; with a self
discipline that may not be set aside. This cannot emphasized too strongly. You must discipline
your mind to a degree the modern world nearly does not know. There is practically no move you
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can make, no task you may engage which is not self aware and thought out, even as one
performs. Life itself is lived as practical ceremony where all thought is prayer. You may not
engage in petty, vindictive or vain gossip, neither with another person nor within the self. You
may not associate with persons who live carelessly or thoughtlessly, you must avoid them. There
is no concept of forgiveness, your mistakes must be corrected with practical steps taken.
The effect or litmus test of this self disciplined life *MUST* be what a son, brother and father of
three generations of Cheyenne Arrow Keepers has stated should be the consistent, demonstrable
To be open to the mysteries of the natural world and its manifestations, to be sensitive, aware of
the manifold possibilities of seeing the world, to be free and unhampered in ones thinking, to be
generous and kind in regard to others, to let everything have its own voice.
There is precisely ZERO space for the typical blinding personal arrogance of self, or ego, to
achieve the preceding. A result of actually attaining this level of practical intelligence is reflected
in the Native American proverb:
The spirit puts into the mind of a man, to know what to do.
This is practical result of the first rule of keeping a pipe. In other words, you can be depended
upon to be a wise counselor.
The second general rule of keeping a pipe would seem even more difficult to modern peoples,
the practical living in balance requires one cannot be wealth focused; having secured what is
required to live MODESTLY, one cannot accrue wealth beyond this, it is affront to the living
spirit, nature, whose rule dictates we humans have no more inherent right to life than any other
living thing. ANYTHING that burdens nature more than necessary to our living modestly, is a
violation of the Plains Law of Matriarchy. How is that? The female principle that rules us, our
creation or nature, represented in our community of women, is greater than any individual and
this demands the individual be sacrificed to the good of the greater living whole. Individual
wealth does not, cannot, will not find a place in this scheme. By modern standard, it is a self
imposed life of austerity.
The third general rule of keeping a pipe would be you had already had disciplined oneself to the
preceding rules prior to receiving a pipe. The community leadership will have recognized ones
devotion, potential for achievement and consistent exemplary life prior to being entrusted with a
pipe to be used in open ceremony. Relatively few people kept pipes because of the high
expectations demanded of the keepers.
The fourth general rule of keeping a pipe is, this was no absolute right. If our leaders were
chosen to keep a pipe for purpose of public ceremony, they also could have a right to use a pipe
in public ceremony taken away. The authority in the original Plains Culture was never absolute
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in those chosen to lead the people. There was oversight. If ever the leadership became inflated
with their own sense of importance, this was grounds for demotion. Leaders who refused to be
disciplined were invariably shunned, leading to being effectively exiled, together with any
supporters, on account of energy transfers. This underlying principle is key to part 2:
Not just any pipe would be kept.
Acquiring a useful pipe is not nearly so simple as making one, having one made, buying one or
having one given to you by just anyone or even having an established one transferred to you.
Energy transfers is paramount to understanding how a pipe originates and whether the pipe is
settled. This can take two directions; an old pipe or a new pipe.
First the old pipe. This is a pipe that is transferred. It has a history of use and possibly attending
items constituting a so-called bundle. This pipe already has a working history and, if kept
properly, an intense consciousness imbued in it. This is in line with modern discovery in
quantum mechanics and the consequent statement of theoretical physicist Bernard dEspagnat:
The doctrine that the world is made up of objects whose existence is independent of human
consciousness turns out to be in conflict with quantum mechanics and with facts established by
The history of the old pipe will give it a form or intensity of consciousness that would give
anyone but the rigorously self-disciplined, problems. And in the hands of the wrong persons, this
pipe can cause extensive bad luck in those connected with whoever might be holding it.
Whats going on here is, a pipe rebelling against the inferior energy of those persons it might
have been transferred to. The pipe is demanding a certain quality of energy and when that energy
is not forthcoming, the pipe, as a consciousness imbued object, pushes back against the energy it
detests. This is where many pipes and bundles have been failed by their modern keepers, people
without the necessary self-discipline required of the ancient native consciousness. Invariably any
poor keepers will see havoc created in their surroundings, theyve effectively become a curse of
bad luck through their blind arrogance of believing they are worthy when in fact they are not. Pat
Kennedy himself told me his bundles and pipes should be put out or retired for the fact there
was no longer any assurance these items could be competently and safely kept. I dont know if it
happened but in some cases I expect not.
Now, the new pipe is a tricky proposition as well. Here it is critical the person building it,
giving it shape or form, is living the requirements set out in part one. Again, this is because
energy transfers as consciousness and this will determine the personality of the new pipe. If the
pipe maker is living a high form of the old native consciousness, and makes no mental mistake
when working the stone, the person receiving this pipe could easily experience the same
problems associated with being transferred an old pipe. On the other hand, if it is a careless
person, or any person with an agenda, poor personal history or inferior habits, these all transfer
into the personality of the new pipe and that will be the new pipes consciousness. Receiving a
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pipe with unknown or misrepresented history is a bit like manifesting roulette, you easily could
be robbed (or shot dead.)
An ignorant person would create an ignorant pipe, a dishonest person would create a dishonest
pipe, a deceived person would create a deceived pipe, a dangerous person would create a
dangerous pipe, a vindictive person would create a vindictive pipe you should get the picture.
You dont want just any pipe and you certainly would not want a pipe without an intimate
awareness of its source. Not just anyone should make pipes. In elder times, not just anyone
would dare to make a pipe.
And finally, it must be said the modern people do not possess the proper mentality to claim any
right to say this is Cree way or this is Blackfoot way because they are not in fact living that
old cultural awareness. That ancient mentality and todays mentality are so different as Venus to
Earth or Earth to Mars.
With enforced western educations having extinguished the oral histories together with the
language, and as well, reshaped the indigenous mentality, and with western cultural anthropology
in the guise of Native Studies euphemism having displaced the advanced indigenous learning
format, the preceding principles are presented as superior to nearly anything you will find nearly
anywhere in academia in a sense of the authentic demands of the original traditions.
With this said, what Pat Kennedy attempted to pass to us can be seen as little more than remote
opportunity to explore what it means to live in a beautiful way.
To live in a beautiful way in the ancient sense understood by Pat and his peers is to know how to
set aside personal arrogance that seems normal, habitual, in the modern people; to practice a
humility requiring you cannot set the requirements for personal ceremony aside in relation to
ones surroundings for so much as a moment. This is because energy transfers and each of us is
responsible for ourselves as a source of the energy that makes up any given community or
gathering. Dont be deceived with any thought these requirements can be in any way set aside,
even for a moment, ever, at all.
Retiring a pipe
A suspect or troublesome pipe or any pipe in unqualified hands should be put out or that is
properly retired. This is the simple act of abandoning the pipe in a remote, clean place in nature,
together with offerings to honor the law the very fact of any pipes existence is meant to signify
in the sense of original intent. There is no failure symbolized in this act; it is rectifying a mistake
or preventing future mistakes being made. Did you wish to follow the way of the pipe and didnt
know, werent aware of the dangers involved with a pipes pre-set state of imbued
consciousness? Retiring a pipe could be a wise re-beginning while seeing if one is able to live
the rules in a real and practical way. Having disciplined the self to a very high standard of
consciousness, one could then set out to re-acquire a pipe, but in this case from a trustworthy
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source. Or in case of having discovered living the actual rules of keeping a pipe were impractical
or too burdensome, retiring a pipe would be an absolutely intelligent thing to do.
In todays world there is a false, self-deceived spirit has taken over many peoples experience in
relation to ceremony. It might be manifest in keeping ceremony no one knows how to explain
anymore; in other words a rote memory of things which have become completely false or
hypocritical because to perform ceremony is to understand not only the how, but even more
importantly, to intimately understand the why. Without the why, the how is meaningless. Or to
take a place of leadership in ceremony without having subjected the self to the required advanced
learning, and keeping, the rules demanded of the position. And especially to have elevated others
to a role of pipe keepers, handlers or other ceremonial tasks and not having acquired critical
knowledge to have trained them properly in the required elements of living the role, the prayers
of these people are actually doing more harm than good, no intelligent Indian would want these
people praying for them. And if informed, neither would you.
Note: This author had divested himself of his pipe over a decade ago; for the reason of personal
circumstance tending to cynicism and satire, or in other words, immersion in geopolitical
Pipe Maker
He made beautiful stone pipes. Before he made them in the way of our sacred pipes, he made
really fascinating dope smoking pipes, from a soft stone that was easily broken. These elegantly
carved works of art did often break. I dont know if this is because stoners are clumsy or if there
was a message involved.
But the pipe maker always took it to be a message, a lesson and opportunity to lecture someone,
when their pipe broke. Maybe it never occurred to him the lessons of the many broken dope
pipes were because of who it was had made them.
He had a mean streak. He wasnt faithful to the beautiful woman in his life and maybe it never
crossed his mind, the reality of why he lost her. Or the reality of why he couldnt keep many
truly steadfast and dependable friends. Or the reality of why the universe would deliver him a
savage beating out of the blue. Or the reality of any number of bad experiences it seemed to him
had invaded his life.
He had meanwhile began making the real pipes from our special stone. He didnt learn
ceremony from our people, there was no sweat equity investment. What Im saying is, he didnt
put himself through the hardships of real learning from our teachers generations of wisdom. But
he was making our pipes. And making them without the understanding of how you go about

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making these pipes from our cultural perspective, without the proper training or knowledge from
oral history.
Our medicine people were watching this guy from a distance, they know how to do that. One of
them showed up one day and said I would like you to make me a pipe. And so, this pipe maker
made a pipe for this native ghost priest, and with his incredible gift for art he made the bowl so
a human spirit was carved from the black stone bowl, facing the person who would be smoking
it. The medicine man accepted the pipe and kept it for awhile but then returned with it and said
you need to remove this person because we dont want people to be bugged by it. Or maybe he
filed away the ghost image himself. In any case, this image disappeared. But the exercise had
served its purpose.
When pipe maker came to our camp, one where we put together the summer ceremonies, he
didnt understand our rules. Or maybe in this case he simply didnt care or think much of the idea
of sacred ground. He didnt refrain from his long time habit of promiscuity and had a girl in his
tent, where he was screwing her in the middle of the afternoon.
Tipped off the right time had arrived (our old people have ways of knowing these things) or that
is to say timed by the fortuity of the gods, the ghost priest gathered up several of his fellow
medicine men, they took the (truly freaky) clown masks used in a Sun Dance sub-ceremony
and stealthily approached the pipe makers tent.
The pipe maker was working hard at his exercise when he heard a cough. Looking over at the
unexpectedly open tent door he was frozen as was the girl under him as they beheld these
hideous faces silently looking on .. and then one of the faces said, in a voice the pipe maker
should have recognized, Well, slip it back in
We subsequently didnt see this pipe maker at the ceremonies, which is a good, and in the same
moment, a bad thing. What might have been going on in the medicine mens mind?
What we know from the awareness the western culture had worked hard put to death, that is what
the Christian culture, which had murdered the native cultures, doesnt know, that is energy
transfers. This guy making pipes needed to be overcome before his pipes began circulating his
disease among the people. He had to be made to think about his behaviors. To change his ways.
To understand there are unforeseen consequences to ones inattentive actions. To learn to observe
intelligently and begin to assume responsibility for his behaviors. To clean up his act, become
clean enough to mix with people without causing harm. To discover what it means to become a
real human being.
And, as a last and poorest choice, if hed not seen his mistakes and corrected himself, discover
the hardest lessons of all, the disasters that would attend ones personal life if he were to make
pipes for certain persons and discover his energies can be directed squarely back at him.

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The Novice
There was a novice Hand Game player who showed great promise. He also was a soul of good
intentions. With his beginning understanding of this game, he sought one of his familys
medicine men, to ask for a power of protection when he played.
He knew enough to approach this teacher in the correct way and said what it was he wished to
acquire. The medicine man told him to return in a few days. When he did so, the medicine man
handed him a necklace with a tiny bit of a buckskin bag attached and told him wear this when
you play.
As it happened, this young man also had a young friend in dire trouble, his luck had been
persistently failing him. Motivated from good intentions, he handed his necklace to this friend
and told him how hed received it. This true friend of the young man was exceedingly grateful
for the protection.
But the friends luck didnt get better, it got by far worse. But knowing he could trust the source
of the protection hed received, he told himself he only needed to believe more strongly in the
protection and so it went like that, his luck kept going downhill, rapidly, and he kept telling
himself he only needed to believe more strongly until all was a perfect disaster.
When the novice Hand Game player checked in with his dear friend, to see how things might be
going, he was shocked. Returning to the medicine man, he explained what he had done and the
The medicine man took awhile and finally spoke to the novice.
My boy he said The Hand Game is a game of sorcery. When you asked for protection as a
player, I provided something specific to that. It is a bit of severe bad luck in your necklace I gave
you immunity to, to ward off the seers from the opposing side. It is meant to damage their sight
when attempting to see through you. It was never meant to protect you otherwise, it is only
meant to protect bones youre hiding, from the divination. It was intended to destroy another
persons luck.

The Law of the Black Stone

Niitssitapi is in the minds and hearts of all who live in the Blackfeet cosmos, those who
understand the stories of Oral History and know the Blackfeet gods and their ceremonies.
The story began : Thunder abducted the wife of the Half Earth Being, Man, her name is
Niitssitapi. Man was crying and the other beings noticed. They gathered among themselves and
asked why is Man so pitiful? The sound of his weeping was very disturbing. When Bear
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explained the cause of Mans grief, everyone seemed to become afraid. There was no question
Niitssitapi had to be rescued, because until she was returned to Man, everyones life was hanging
in the balance. But who would go against Thunder?
This question was put to another Half Being, Eagle, who knew the road to, and sometimes shared
Thunders realm in the sky. These two had counciled together in the past.
Eagle said It cannot be me, for I am Thunders relation. Let it be Raven who corrects my
cousins wrong.
Raven knew the trail to Thunders realm as well, however she would not go there. But Raven
stated to Eagle I will do it. First you must pass along a message, from me to Thunder, you will
be my Runner.
Eagle agreed This, I am allowed to do.
Raven then stated I must go to my lodge, I will not be prepared until the afternoon of the fifth
Man Day. Eagle, you must find me then, alone, on the prairie between the meeting place of the
Old Man and Lakes Inside Rivers.
These Beings Peoples then dispersed and Raven went home to make ceremony and paint a glyph
on a bit of Aspen bark.
Sak Wo Ma Oui Aki Kwan stood alone on the prairie with her back to the rivers place of coming
Eagle arrived at the appointed time and circled above, calling out five times EeKiii: Have you
seen Raven?
The Woman Warrior, her Black, Black hair turned loose in the wind, called back to Eagle Look
at the feather tied upon the left side of my glory in this wind, for I AM Raven.
Eagle then landed at the womans feet. He said Your ceremony is strong. But I will not warn my
cousin Thunder.
Raven gave the painted glyph to Eagle with the warning: Do not look at this, it would destroy
you. When you have delivered it to Thunder, quickly move to the side, before he can have the
chance to clearly see it. That is all.
Eagle said nothing, but took off into the sky with the glyph grasped in his talons, his great wings
working hard into the climbing circle, until a thermal updraft lifted him high, soaring to a speck
and then finally, out of sight.

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Soon, very soon after Eagle had gone out of view, a great Black Boiling Cloud began forming
before Sak Wo Ma Oui Aki Kwan: The Woman Who Stood Alone and Challenged the Enemy.
Thunders great rage of wind at this Woman was terrifying to behold, but Raven stood her
ground against it. When he came into range, Thunder drew arrows from his quiver and shot them
from his bow, the arrows strikes against the ground were deafening and each one missed!
Raven, now a Woman, now a bird, woman-bird, woman-bird, enraged Thunder as never before,
Thunder repeatedly fired at a woman, but only to see his strikes evaded by a bird that hopped!
Raven, facing Thunder, had hopped forward one hop, to the south, with each arrow Thunder had
sent at her. As she hopped farther and farther away from the place where the rivers joined, she
felt Ichs Stui approaching from behind her, and Thunder, whose rage was so great, did not notice.
Ichs Stuis icy hand took the remaining arrows from Thunders quiver and the fight was over.
Raven had won. Now they had to sit together, Sak Wo Ma Oui Aki Kwan, Ichs Stui, and
Thunder, where the Old Man and Lakes Inside rivers meet, and make the Peace.
Terms of the peace
Sak Wo Ma Oui Aki Kwan sat in the west, looking into the east, Ichs Stui sat in the north,
looking into the south and Thunder sat in the east, looking into the west. The south stood open to
this lodge they created with their positions. The protocol called for Sak Wo Ma Oui Aki Kwan to
speak, Thunder did not like it but he had no choice, for the Woman Warrior was victor.
She first placed a tanned Elk skin bag on the prairie grass before Ichs Stui and then the Woman
Warrior spoke to Thunder: I have brought this Cermonial Stone, a gift to you from Raven
handed through my Ceremony and Vision, those things preparing me for this fight, now, to make
this peace. It is in the shape of the Man Being when he is a Creator. This is to remind you,
Thunder, Niitssitapi is forever free to make her own choice of her mate.
With these words, the Woman Warrior changed in her body and became pregnant. Her beauty
softened. The anger went out of Thunders face. He felt compassion and a brothers love for
Niitssitapi as he gazed at her sitting across from him.
Now, as Niitssitapi, she continued: I give this Stone into the keeping of Ichs Stui, on your
behalf, my half brother, he will keep it safely for you in his winter home. Each Moon of the
Willows Return, Ichs Stui will bring out this Stone and you will use it in ceremony, to
commemorate this meeting, and my right to live in Human Dignity, and you will commerate all
of my future childrens right to live in Human Dignity, whether my Woman children or my Half
Man Being children. Each Moon of the Ripened Cherries, Ichs Stui, whom you cannot stand
against, will come and collect this Ceremonial Stone for safe keeping and I will thank Raven
who will gather herself again and hop south to remind you.

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This story is my rendition of the Blackfoot story on the origin of matriarchy; The Law of the
Black Stone or also could be called The Law of the Ninawaki. The Blackfoot word for wife is
ninaki (translates Boss) which is the lesser from of ninawaki or the highest form of
Blackfoot chief in ancient times. A ninawaki could only be a woman. The term niitsitapi is
reference to Blackfoot citizenship or all those who adhere to this law.

Stick Game or The Witches

I had a Love/Hate relationship with many of the Indian Stick Game players, some loved that the
fact I could play the game, and win, and some hated the fact that I did it as a Whiteman. Sort of
like the rise of American Soccer chipping away at one of the last domains where Mexico has
ruled over an American nation that has historically humiliated them in so many respects. To
some of the Indians, it was the same feeling at Stick Game, my skill at the game just hurt them,
what would the Whiteman take next, there was damn little left that he had not already grabbed. I
have little sympathy for that point of view, and it misses the point as concerns me. This simply
was a game that I loved. On the other hand, there were Indians that thoroughly enjoyed the fact
that I would, time to time, take the Point, or leadership of a team, and destroy the opposition,
game after game, throughout the course of a night. These Indians were the ones that did not get
caught up in the Red/White politic, but were purely into the technical detail of the game, the
game for the sake of the game, and admired my skill. Skill and winning was all that mattered.
And that is the approach of the better Stick Game players.
Stick Game, closely scrutinized, analyzed in its totality, could fascinate or disturb a lot of white
people, for diverse reasons. Giving the anthropologists something to think over, Stick Game is
identical in its mathematical principle and cultural application, to the values of the I Ching, the
Bones values representing the old & young Yin & Yang, and the divination revealing the
relationships of Man to the movement of energy in Nature. I realized these people are identical to
the Taoists in their theory of the world -as it applies to this game- and the game is, culturally
speaking, an elder brother of the oracles of Chinese Civilization. The Whitemans physical
scientists could consider the games ability to shred their laws of mathematical probabilities,
when a team goes on a winning streak, perhaps leaving their physicists stumped. The 900 toll
number telephone psychics, and the new age channels, could give up their fraud and amateur
efforts, respectively, in exchange for the real thing at Stick Game, and they would not stand a
chance. And among many other natural phenomena they freak out over, the Evangelists can freak
out over the Sorceries, or Witchcraft, associated with the game.
Stick Game has replaced Inter-Tribal Warfare and Horse Stealing as the equivalent of the
Olympics in the Western tribes of native North America. The game is everything in the Indian
world that is not Western or White. It epitomizes the pre-western, aboriginal method of thought.
This Stick Game chapter will seem perhaps a bit tedious to some in the first several pages.. but
the intent here is not only to tell the stories but to actually teach the basics of this ancient
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aboriginal divination. A bit of perseverance in these first pages pays off well in subsequently
following the stories of the game itself.
Stick Game takes its name from the sticks that are employed as a sort of chit- keeping, the tally
of points earned or deducted. Other names for the game, in various forms and applications are;
Bone Game (for the bits of bone used in the games required divinations); Hand Game (after the
players hands hiding the bones); Feather Game (aka Holy Hand Game, for the requirement to
interpret the divination by a special feather attached to a divining stick- a variation more typical
of formal decision making in a religious context); or just Game. Most Stick Game is played in a
common gambling and entertainment form. In this form, you will find the open field combat of
the Medicine Warriors, the Witches and the Sorcerers. This is the form of the game that I loved.
The mechanics of the game may seem simple. It is not a simple game.
I knew the game well in two forms, Blackfeet style and, more importantly, Flathead style:
Flathead style is the most common inter-tribal form used at most of the common, or open
gambling games, regardless of the games tribal location. So I will talk about the Flathead style,
because if you visit a western states pow wow, and see this game in public, chances are that
Flathead style is the game you would see being played.
Taking the Point is leading a side in a game. A Point is making a divining choice. The
Pointer, is the leader of your war party, and makes the guesses, leads the singing or designates
a song leader, chooses your teams hiders, the ones that will conceal the Bones, in short, the
Pointer is the chief of your team for that game. Traditionally this leader keeps the Point, so long
as he or she continues to direct winning play of the game. If there is a loss, in any given game,
more often than not, the leader, which had led a team to defeat, will surrender the Point to
another player for the next game. Usually the change of point follows some informal seniority
order within the group making up that team.
A typical game kit is 11 sticks, five each with identical designs but different colors and a Kick
stick that incorporates the design in both colors, and two sets of Bones: each set of Bones has
one marked Bone, and one unmarked Bone. Each Bone set must generally follow these
specifications: Each Bone must be easily concealable in a fist, and the marked Bone must be
clearly marked and easily differentiated from the unmarked Bone.
To begin a game, the two team leaders face off, each with one set of Bones from their respective
game kits. Now the two leaders play for the Kick stick. Each of them hides their bones in their
fists, perhaps placing their hands behind their backs or under their shirt to conceal from the other
which Bone went to which hand. But now they must reveal their respective fists clutching the
Bones for the other to see, perhaps placing their fists on their knees, or holding them in front of
their bodies, arms crossed. Now with gestures of a fist or head, they guess each other, each
looking for the unmarked Bone of the other. If necessary, they will guess again and again, until
one has guessed correctly and the other has missed with his guess. Then the game begins.
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Whoever wins the Kick, their team has the absolute advantage to start the game. The Kick
winners game kit is used, their sticks and bones will be played. The other puts his Bones and
sticks away. The Kick winner hands, or tosses to the other team, five of his sticks. Then he puts
the Kick stick, already won, away. Each team leader now, sometimes very ritualistically, arranges
the five sticks per team on the ground between the teams, these ten sticks belong to the earth, and
neither team is in real possession of them yet. The Kick winning team is already drumming and
singing. They presently possess both sets of Bones.
I have played in games with 200 players and singers, and 30 or 40 hand drums, back in the
1970s, when Stick Game was still really big. The teams array face to face in long horizontal
lines. There is probably about a ten foot no mans land between them. At the richer tribes, I have
seen as much as US$18,000 wrapped in a large scarf, or a shawl, lying on the ground between
the teams, the collective wager for a single game. Often these games largely represented, in their
makeup, the historical warfare between the differing tribes. Often times, the older songs
employed in these games represented accounts of past victories against the foes they were facing.
Now the Kick winning leader, perhaps standing up to better survey who is present and playing
for him, decides who will hide the Bones for his team. He will take his time to choose, and then
delivers the Bones to his hiders. By this time, the opposing team leader is perhaps looking
deliberately disinterested in his opponents magical incantations, acted out in pantomime with the
Bones. Fists clutching Bones, especially in the hands of the women, are sometimes doing
something akin to Hawaiian Dance moves, as the singing and drumming team taunts him, daring
him to guess. He can take his time, but he must make a choice. A game can last ten minutes. A
game can last ten hours. You never know what to expect.
The Point in this initial run of the game presents 4 possibilities, looking at the drumming and
singing Indians facing him, the diviner, the Chief of the team that wants to win the Bones to his
side, must first make an accurate determination of what he is faced with. He knows the
mechanics, his Point must be either the Outside, the fists facing him in that choice would be the
right hand of the hider facing him on his left and the left hand of the hider facing him to his right,
the Middle, the fists of the arms between the hiders facing him, opposite of the previous, or, he
must call open both the left fists or both the right fists of the hiders on the team presently singing.
One guess, two hiders. He must find the unmarked Bone of each. He points his right forefinger to
the ground directly to his front and nods affirmation, his guess is the Middle, and the hiders must
open their hands and reveal the Bones. Both hiders suddenly bring their fists together, they have
been caught, the singing stops, he has won the Bones. The Bones are thrown across the no-mansland to the man that just made this first Point, now his Indians begin to sing, but only the Bones
have been won, and with them the right to hide, the sticks have not moved from the ground. It is
like winning the serve in Volleyball, there is no score on the exchange. Now the circumstance of
play is reversed between the teams.
Now the pointer who had won the Kick is faced with divining, his opposition is singing and
taunting, the drums are loud, and in this incredible din he must be able to find his sight, be able
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to see the unmarked Bones through the concealment and bring them back. He makes his shot,
extending his right arm, forefinger pointing directly off to his right, he has guessed both
opposing players left hands when he adds the required affirmation to his guess, in this case he
simply shouts above the din, Hey!, the opposing hiders, both women, chirp Ki yi-yi-yi, and the
entire singing team is instantly frenzied, fingers shaking to the beat at the guesser who has just
missed both the hiders positions with his guess, the opened hands revealing his mistake for all to
see, he has guessed the marked Bones, he reaches to the ground and picks up two sticks,
throwing them across the no-mans-land to the singing team, their hiders have ducked, bones
and hands concealed from view as they prepare the bones positions, they are entitled to hide
again, now the fists emerge back into to view, the singing team is animated now, singing loudly
together, these women hiders are experts. The Pointer looks at the ground trying to block out the
noise, and gather his concentration. Now the Pointer must decide if the women hiders have
stayed, or if they have run with the Bones, he has to guess them both again, and deciding both
women have changed hands with the unmarked Bones, believing they have run he makes the
identical guess as before, again both women give the Ki-yi-yi-yi, bringing their team to its feet,
now standing, dancing in place to drums, sing and play, they are on a roll, the women exhibit
their open hands, neither unmarked Bone had been moved, they had both stayed, the Pointer
had guessed the two marked Bones again. The pointer again picks up two sticks and throws them
across to the singing team and then gestures to the singing team that he has passed the next guess
to a woman sitting next to him, perhaps this woman can divine the women hiders. The hiders
have ducked and now the fists come out again, inviting another mistaken point. Now this newly
designated woman Pointer is the focus of the taunts, as she attempts to concentrate on making a
good point. She closes her eyes and places her face in her hands, elbows on her knees sitting in a
folding chair, she looks without physical sight for the bones and sees the younger woman has
run, she has switched the Bones positions in her hands, but she cannot see the older womans
Bones, her sight is blocked, she can only guess. Eyes open and looking now, she attempts the
physical sight scrutiny of the older hider. Nothing is revealed. Still she can only guess. Suddenly
this woman makes up her mind and points to the Middle and nods her affirmation that this is
indeed her decision, the younger woman throws her bones across, busted, but the other woman
hider again gives the Ki-yi-yi-yi opening her hands to reveal the mistake.* Now the woman
pointer throws one stick across and give the set of Bones she has won back to her original team
leader. The singing team is sitting again, all eyes are on their remaining hider, will she run?, will
she stay?, the original pointer takes the single set of bones and ducks with them, it appears he
will guess her one on one in the same style as is sometimes used to win the Kick stick. Now he
comes out with his fists and holding his fists in the air, he shouts Hey! Notifying the hider he has
decided.. but she will not show, she shakes her head in the negative, he must open his hands first,
he put his hands back under a blanket on his lap, as though undecided, but this woman knows all
the technical detail of the game, the obscure rules, she has called his bluff, his hands had
concealed nothing, a trick, but she did not bite and he looks foolish now, and actually that was
his intention for her, to make her look foolish and break her rhythm. His confidence is shaken.
He gives the Bones, this set presently employed for the purpose of guessing, back to the woman
that had won them, but she has seen his confidence shaken, and that pulls her confidence down
too. But she makes the guess, holding her hands extended, palms up with a bone in each, and
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with her trademark nod in the affirmative, this is her guess, and the woman hider is chirping
again Ki-yi-yi-yi, and the singing teams leader now reaches down and picks up a stick from the
ground in from of him, there are only four sticks left on the ground, some of his singers are now
waving bye-bye in their taunts at the opposition that cannot divine their woman hiding the
Bones. Now many of the players on the guessing team, not having drummed or sang since
winning the Kick, are looking glum or serious, being taken down from the get-go in a game is
unlucky, embarrassing. Now the set of Bones with the guessing team is passed, guess by guess,
to different players trying to stop the woman hider on the singing team and with each mistake
another stick is picked up from the ground by the singing team, until all are gone. Now the
guessing team has only the Kick stick to defend. The pointer pulls it out and stabs the Kick stick
into the ground like a stake. He throws the bones, his own Bones that have failed him, onto the
ground, and points his forefinger in the direction the Bones indicate the guess.. wrong again, the
game is over. Finished. The winning team jumps on the bet, matched amounts of money, waiting
in the no-mans-land. It may have lasted 15 minutes.
* with the information provided up to this point, you now have all the necessary knowledge to
determine on which side each hider is facing you, old or young, your left or your right, and in
which hand each held the unmarked bone for this guess. Can you sort it out?
The preceding description is a general picture of the game, as I have seen it played many times,
and describes what happens when a team of journeyman players runs into a set of crack players.
This has happened, much as described above, countless times. But it is the exception, not the
rule. There is no typical game, games last 30 minutes, an hour, 2 hours, 10 hours (I hated those
games.) It is a matter of not only skill, it is about collective will.
I am not going to give up all of my Stick Game secrets, the old Medicine Ways shared with me,
here. What point, example given, would there be in telling you that the white, very old wild dog
shit, Coyote shit from the prairie, is good protection against a particular kind of Indian witch at
Stick Game, when that same Indian witch, when not sitting opposite me at Stick Game, is my
friend? I mostly wont go there, the wheres, whys and hows of that. Anyway, that sort of thing
is truly dangerous, if you do not know how to read the context of the sorceries going on in a
given game, something like that little piece of crap can, in a manner of speaking, explode in your
face. But there is plenty I can, and will tell. Some of it perhaps useful to a player that might read
this, some of it interesting to people who just want to know. I will reconstruct some of my own
play in games here, intended as instructive/entertaining descriptions.
I know that my presence as a Pointer bothered a lot of the Indians I faced in competition over the
years. Floyd Heavy Runners daughter, Sarah, once made a somewhat hilarious observation in
casual conversation that I can relate to this. I was enjoying lying in the prairie grass by a
campfire at one of our outdoor summer campsites by the Badger Canyon, there were visiting
Indians, everything was relaxed and cool. There is always joking going on, these are incredibly
fun and self deprecating people who, when among themselves, make jokes about nearly
everything having to do with life. Someone was telling what could be taken as a racist joke, a
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joke story about a honky, these stories did not bother me, I made my own jokes about my race,
as the Blackfeet did theirs. When the joke had been told, I noticed one of the visitors looking
somewhat wide eyed at me, for a reaction. Sarah also noticed and chimed in, Dont worry about
Ron, he doesnt realize hes not an Indian. That drew even more laughs.
Having Indians like Sarah, people who did not concern themselves with my race, on my Stick
Game teams, and faced with racially conflicted Indian opposition on many occasions at the
games, I believe gave me an advantage that very few may have ever known when playing the
game. Add the fact that further, I had the most knowledgeable possible teachers and was a
meticulous student of the game, and you sometimes met with a recipe for disaster as an Indian
facing me in the game for the first time. No matter how good a player you were, not far into the
game, fear could strike you. I had become a master of the obscure rules and technical detail.
Also, I played the race card in subtle ways, to my psychological advantage, when faced with
racially conflicted Indians. Stick Game is War, and short of cheating with the Bones, or getting
angry (never get angry at Stick Game, a cardinal rule, if you get angry, you are really finished),
you do whatever it takes to win.
One time I was faced with a Pointer I knew did not like me, did not like Whites. He was typically
one of the better game leaders in our region. By this time I was also known as a premier Pointer.
He was confident he could beat me, it would be a Coup for him to beat the Whiteman, and he
was playing a strong game. So I resorted to a very dirty tactic, for me it was time tested and true
against the racist Medicine Men that play the game. I noticed he had a lot of confidence in one
song in particular when his team was singing and I made myself learn that song, listening, on the
spot. Having won the Bones back, I signaled to my singers to sit quiet and I took a drum and
sang his song back to him, making no move to chose my hiders, but singing several stanzas, the
first ones correctly, to show him I had his song, and the subsequent stanzas I deliberately fucked
up, while looking right at him and saw an expression that made it appear he had herniated his
rectum right there. And then, without missing a beat, I converted to one of our teams songs,
which my singers immediately picked up, and handing the drum back to its owner, I delivered
the Bones to my hiders, now my entire team has picked up the singing and we took all of his
sticks, game over.
Another time, a woman Pointer at Flathead, facing me for the first time, and having heard of my
reputation, stated carelessly across the no-mans-land as we were preparing to play, So I hear
you are a big time Bone handler. With a straight face I fired right back I will leave handling
the Big Bone to you, an oblique reference to male anatomy. Coming from a Whiteman, that
otherwise totally fair taunt killed her gaming ability, wrecked her psychology, before we ever
played. An easy win for me.
On another occasion, I was not leading the game, but was playing as a hider. Our teams leader
was Ed North Piegan, a Canadian Blackfeet who had married a Browning Indian that was a
relative of mine, Wilma Wells. I was doing a good job winning sticks, and the other team was
nearly defeated. Chosen again to hide, after Ed had won the Bones back, Ed smiled approval at
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me from his chair, and as he was leaning forward in my direction, tossing me the Bones to hide
again, and in full hearing of hundreds of Indians, a woman player, sitting close to Ed and
pointing to me, shouted to the opposing team over the din of the drums, This is your worst
nightmare, look there, it is a Honky with the Bones. Ed nearly fell out of his chair laughing, he
knew my real value as a player.
Every Pointer has to wait, at times, for his or her turn to take a games leadership. Sometimes
your turn comes up sooner if you are sitting on a persistently losing side that changes Pointers
often. But even in that situation a good Pointer may have to wait. Such was the case for me with
the big Inter-Tribal games at the Browning Indian Days Celebrations in the 1980s. I never had
the seniority of the other good Blackfeet Pointers and most of them would turn out for these
games. So I was, in a manner of speaking, quite a ways down the list at these events. During
those summer celebrations when the Blackfeet hosts were winning, and the games did not often
change Pointers (I was always a home team player), most times I had no opportunity to point at
all. But I always got to play because I also was a good hider, not only a Pointer. There were,
however, two memorable occasions that I was able to lead Blackfeet teams against other tribes
teams at these big events.
On one of these occasions, there was a sort of inter-tribal team of All Stars, a select group of top
players from several Canadian tribes that had made the trip together as a team, to take on the
Browning Blackfeet at the Stick Games. The strategy of assembling this special team for the
occasion had paid off. These Canadians, mostly Crees, had not lost a game since they had begun
play, now it had been two days. The Blackfeet persistently took them on, again and again, Stick
Game Indians at home just dont give up. They cant. These Crees could go home and brag that
they had whipped their old enemies, the Blackfeet, but they would never be allowed to say they
ran the Blackfeet out of their own games, that just would not happen.
One of my Blackfeet Blood Brothers from Brockett, Andrew Small Legs, had been playing on
our side since the beginning of this fiasco for the Blackfeet home team, and now it was his turn
to take the Point. But he exercised his right to give his turn away to the Blackfeet player of his
choice, and he gave the game to me. Andrew told me, I have seen what you can do. I know you
can take these people down. It was about 9 PM. I had my big game. The Pointer for this
amalgam of Crees was about 35 years old, and a friend of mine, Lloyd Chippewa, like myself a
Vietnam veteran, was his main assistant. They had picked up Lloyd, a Montana Chippewa/Cree,
and a good player, for advice on the Indians they would encounter at these games. Lloyd had
played against our Blackfeet, and me, many times. I had also played with Lloyd, in the past,
when we had banded together against common foes, such as at the games on the Flathead
Reservation and at Fort Hall, Idaho, against the Snake (Shoshone) Indians. Lloyd and I had also
played together at Wellpinit, Washington, in a sort of informal national finals Stick Game event.
We knew each others game well. But nobody on the side opposing me, including Lloyd, was
prepared for me to take this games point, it was a complete surprise. Up to that moment, I had
only sat and watched these games. But now I was sitting beside my brother Andrew, ready to
begin. And these particular Crees, Lloyd excepted, had never faced a Whiteman leading a Stick
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Game before. That was their problem. This was the Big Time, and I would play my most skilled
game, there would be no room for mistakes.
Looking across and seeing Lloyd, I wanted to modify the game I was most fond of, my technique
that Lloyd knew, but I repressed that urge. I did not dare, at that point, deviate from my game
scheme. It was a tested means of play, I had learned it from very old people some years before, it
was good, and I did not want to place myself in unfamiliar territory by adopting a different
technique. My game was good enough to give even Lloyd, who grasped it, a least a bit of a
difficult time and he was not the main Pointer for their side, Lloyd had had no chance to explain
me to his Pointer, consequently, importantly, the main body of Indians I faced would not realize,
initially, that I would employ a very old method of play, complete with arcane rules. In Stick
Game, you have to play up, to the level of game your opposition brings you. And you might be
surprised to discover Stick Game is diverse in strategy, much like Chess, and there are many
techniques that can be employed.
After four tries, the Crees won the Kick. They were singing, I put my kit away. Now I leaned
back in my chair, close my eyes for 30 or 40 seconds and let my senses take in their drumming. I
allow their drums into my head, and note any thoughts, visualizations or sensation the sound
evokes to emerge, the ego is consciousness set aside, now I am in the disciplined meditative or
waking dream state learned from fasting, a state of subconciousness I have learned to evoke at
will. 30 seconds can seem like a long time in this state. I have found where I want to be, I see
some things.
I will play the north-south variation of my game. The will be no middle or outside signals in my
points, only both their right hands or both of the hiders left. I am willing to give up a stick to do
that. Now I sit forward, opening my eyes, and look towards the hider to the north, my left, but
keep my eyes unfocused and looking past this player with a set of Bones. I am studying the
player with my peripheral vision, looking for energy fields. There is something dark clinging to
her right side, perhaps the unmarked bone is masked there by her concentration, she is
visualizing the marked bone as being on her right and directing that thought towards me. I make
my decision regarding her, but make no indication of it, and turn my unfocused gaze to the other
player. I see the dark energy on his right side as well, perhaps the unmarked Bones are set up that
way, imbued with a dark masking energy to ward off a guess, and my several misses, while
playing for the Kick, reinforce the thought. Suddenly I send my left arm north, forefinger
extended, guessing both players right hands and nod. I have caught them both, now we can sing.
Andrew looks across at the other side with the slightest cagey smile, he knows these Crees are in
for a tough time.
Now I am surveying the Indians playing on my team, while standing with the four Bones in my
hands, our people are singing and no one looks at me- it would be poor form while I am deciding
who should hide. My people had been getting whipped around the clock up to now and I want
hiders who have seen my play in the past, in games I have won for them, and have a confidence
boost at my taking both sets of Bones with my first shot. But it cannot be Andrew, he is my 1st
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assistant in this game and hides with me either as a last resort if I get in trouble, or to make the
kill, nearing the end of a game that goes our way. Meanwhile Andrew does nothing- unless I
need him to make a point against a hider that gives me trouble.
I see a woman that is smiling and taunting, looking confident, and she seems familiar to me, I
throw one set of Bones to her, the other set I give to a Browning woman that has played for me
before. Their Pointer shoots and kills my players, they both throw their Bones to the other side.
Now I am using my gaze, my unfocused sight again, and I can see the dark energy on both their
hiders, but it would require a shot from me to the Middle and I wont go there. I pick up a stick
and give it to Andrew, designating him to take this shot, but I also lean over to him and say just
one word: Middle. Andrew takes the stick and acts as though he is in his own meditative state
to divine the Bones, then suddenly points the stick to the ground and nods, the Middle, and both
hider throw their Bones back across to us, Andrew hands me the Bones together with the stick,
which I place back on the ground. Now we are singing and I return the Bones to the same women
that were killed on the last point against us. I want all my team to see my faith in my players.
Both of my hiders are looking at me and I make a peculiar fist signal to them both, use the War
Club, hit them, both nod understanding and turn to concentrate on hiding without giving up
clues, straight faces, unfocused gaze, refusing to react to, or notice, any of the many distractions
directed at them by the opposing team. The opposing Pointer is looking at me now, I had just
stalled his runs and momentum in these games, and he is checking out this Whiteman that runs a
team like a professional. Well, I am a pro, and I notice one of his better players from earlier that
night, a woman, is besides herself, barely able, actually not very well able to contain her outrage
at what they are confronted with. I take note of that, her rage likely will be useful. Lloyd is just
taking it in from the other side, he does not want to lose, but he knows it would be futile to try
and explain what they are up against during the actual game, it would only distract his Pointer.
His best chance is just to sit back and hope his Cree team can cope. They couldnt. It was a short
game that lasted perhaps twenty minutes and their streak was over. Winning the Bones back only
twice more, and winning only two sticks, other than the Kick, which they ultimately were unable
to hang on to, my hiders had gained confidence over the obviously rattled Crees. The two Points
that I gave up a stick each, winning only one set of Bones on those points, happened when the
energy showed me their hiders were on the Outside and Middle. I could not let Andrew take
all those shots without chancing giving away clues that I could see through to the bones and/or
was playing a game with an element of Taboo. The old ones that had taught me the north-south
variation, forbid shots to the middle and outside: it was a Medicine Rule. So shooting only
north or south, but able to see the energy, I was able to always pick up one set of Bones on the
first shot. When there is only one set of Bones being hidden for the second shot, there is no
middle or outside, there is only north-south. So when they went outside or middle, my trade off
was only one stick for both sets of bones, not bad. My hiders didnt have that problem. At the
moment the game ended, a Blackfeet women from our team, who could speak their language,
told them in Cree It took a Whiteman to beat you. Their leadership, including Lloyd,
disappeared for a short while to confer about the next game. Normally they could have left with
their winnings after a loss following a long string of wins, not being a home team, but not under
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these circumstances. Now there was the matter of the Whiteman having defeated them, they
could not leave without a victory over me. Now they were back in their chairs and ready to play
I had suspected Lloyd would be my next Point opponent, that was a near given, but what I really
wondered was whether they would bring out a different set of Bones. The Bones we had used in
the previous game obviously had been Doctored, the ward off energy associated with the
unmarked Bones in that set had worked against my team until I sat down to take the lead, but
now the power of those Bones had fled to me. I liked them. Lloyd was asking the Pointer of the
previous game for a Bone set. It was the same set. I brought out my Bone set, Lloyd had his set
of Bones and we both hid for the Kick guesses. I had won the game, so Lloyd had to guess me
first, and he indicated his choice of my hands. I did not show any expression or open my hands,
but I guessed Lloyd while deliberately trying miss. He showed his bones, I had missed, and I did
not even show my Bones, but simply threw them back into my bag as though Lloyd had caught
me. I wanted to play with their Bones. They began singing, unknowingly taking a thrown Kick,
and Lloyd was preparing his game set for the upcoming play, dividing the sticks between us.
This would not be a north-south game on my part. Lloyd knew that game well and it would be
too difficult for me. That was history, behind me, and besides the fact for this game. Anyway, I
wanted to destroy this Cree team psychologically, devastate them right here, right now, while I
had this advantage over their Bone sets. I only had to read the energy, which was clear to me, and
I intended to take them down hard, as hard as I could.
My first shot was the Middle and it killed them both. I have the Bones and we are singing.
Lloyd looked surprised at me, but only momentarily. Lloyd was a consummate professional, a
seriously good player of the game, and would not easily lose his composure. He won the Bones
back handily. But he had a problem he was as yet unaware of. His team could not hide from me,
their Bones had become traitors. Again I Killed both his hiders, the Bones came back over to
my side. We won a stick, and then Lloyd had the Bones back. Now, a third time I shot them
down double and Lloyd is looking at me with a strange look, like How did you do that, but it
was nothing compared to the look of the Cree woman that had been outraged at this entire
circumstance, since I had taken the lead, a game back. She clearly wanted to really kill
somebody, probably me. Now my teams hiders took the next several sticks. Lloyd wins the
Bones back again, and now, one of his hiders is this angry woman, and it is the first opportunity
of the night I have to guess her. But she has a surprise in for me, and it appears she is on to me.
She brings out two scarves to cover the Bones in her fists and suddenly I could not see the
energy of the Bones in her hands, she had nullified that advantage. Now I upset her some more,
with a hand signal, I waved her off, I would not be guessing both her teams players at a single
shot, and turned my attention solely to the other hider and promptly Killed him, retrieved that
set of Bones, and only then turned to her, with my full attention. She is looking right at me,
angry, determined, and unafraid. I cant let this turn of event get under my skin, I am not going to
change my game now, it is too late for that, so I decide it is just a guessing game at this point, on
any given guess with her, it is 50-50. I missed, tossed over a stick, she ducked to rehide, too fast,
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when she brought out her scarves again and looked up, it was right into my point, I had my arm
extended already, just a pure guess, but she ran into it, and I had caught her. We had all of the
Bones again, she had nearly thrown hers directly at me, not the cursory toss, and we could sing
again now, and I took my time choosing hiders for my side, buying time to think over this new
This woman appeared to be angry for reasons other than I had initially thought. Clearly, she saw
something that nobody else on her side was seeing, appearing to be on to me, demonstrated by
her scarves, she was obviously upset, but she had not totally lost her composure, she was not
afraid of me, she believed she could take me on, and that is not the rattled confidence typical of a
racist Indian being humiliated by a Whiteman in a game they never believed a Whiteman should
play. At least not in my experience up to this time. I was puzzled. Now, I was not so sure my
quiver held the arrow with her name on it. But I could not just roll over, I had to come up with a
solution to this player, otherwise she might go on a tear with the Bones. Meanwhile, my players
are winning sticks, and Lloyds game is in trouble anyway. But the game still could go either
way. Many times it has happened that a team with a pointer of Lloyds caliber, and just one
effective hider, such as this angry woman possibly could be, can come all the way back, from a
single stick, to win.
I had an idea, and Lloyd had won the bones back, but he was down to 3 sticks, including the
Kick. I knew an obscure point gesture the angry woman might not know. The shot would have to
be the Outside, everything would depend on luck, pure and simple. I did not even look for the
energy in the other hider, the player hiding other that this woman, the outcome of that hider, on
this shot, would have to be incidental. I took up a stick, and grasping it between thumb and
forefinger, precisely in its center, I held it, hand up, horizontal to the ground and nodded. She sat
up sharply, neither showing the bones and ducking, or throwing them across. Now she looked at
Lloyd with a What does that mean? expression. Lloyd made to her the most common, one of
several Outside gestures, thumb and forefinger spread apart, and she was caught, it was a
correct guess on my part. Very luckily, I won the Bones back from the other player as well. Now
the angry woman had been, finally, at least momentarily shook up, and Lloyd had seen that. We
took one stick, Lloyd won the Bones back but was now down to two sticks. However, Lloyd did
not have confidence in the angry woman and did not return a set of Bones to her. I shot the
outside again and won the Bones back and we again took one stick before Lloyd won the Bones
back, now he had only the kick. Now Lloyd and the pointer from the previous game hid the
Bones, their last ditch effort. Neither one of them believed I would come back a third time with
an outside shot and they both placed the unmarked Bones in that position. It would not have
mattered. I could see the Bones and I shot the Outside shot again, a third time, and then we took
the last stick with Lloyds next, and last guess. The game was over. Lloyd was stunned. It had
been a fast game again. About 20 minutes.
After a short break, the woman was back, with a god only knows where she found him Indian,
this old man she sat with, to take me on for my third game, looked like a photo of Geronimo. He
was wearing a Grizzly canine necklace. And together they beat me. Solidly. Andrew took the
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point for our side and we played them again.. in one of those collective contests of will that I
hate, a game that dragged on all night. We lost again.
On another day, Lloyd and I, as friends, discussed the first two games in particular. After we
talked, I was laughing in retrospect at what had happened. What neither Lloyd or I had known at
the time these games were actually being played, was that this woman had, earlier in the day
before I played, noticed me and pointed me out to the other Crees from Canada. She had seen me
play at Flathead, was convinced that somehow I had been schooled in the old ways, informing
the others I could really play the game. Without exception, the group had dismissed her
account as preposterous. Whitemen cant do that. Perception of your players judgment is
paramount, and she was not trusted with the Bones in the first game against me. And that is why
she was so mad.
A couple of years later, on a second memorable occasion I was to lead a Blackfeet team against
another tribe, it was again against a group of Canadian Crees. It was towards the end of Indian
Days in Browning, actually the last night of the Pow Wow and my Heart Butte family, the Wells,
had been taking a beating. Towards daybreak, I took the lead and thumbed my way to our first
win. Spud Wells one of my nephews, looked at me immediately following the victory and said
Do it again!
Using your thumbs to point is a reverse guess, and I resorted to this because none of the good
pointers in our family, and these were several very good pointers, had made any headway against
the team we faced. Everyone had been consistently deceived into the wrong guess. So I used my
thumb from the beginning, and pointing with the thumb only means the opposite of the direction
you have pointed. It was working. When I felt pulled to a direction with my guess, I pointed that
way with my thumb and I was beginning to knock them down, killing the Bones, the first
consistent success we had seen that night. These were not easy games, and into this second game,
already a hour long, I had to shit, and it was desperate. I thought maybe I might have to rupture
my big intestine to keep sitting there much longer. But I could not leave, I was the only pointer
present that had handled this opposition with any success, and my family could not afford me to
take an absence at this moment. There is no Time Out in stick game, the only recess is between
games. I was trapped. Now, desperate to escape this trap, for the first and last time ever in all my
years of playing this game, I resorted to a truly dirty trick to win. I wanted the game over as soon
as possible, but I was not willing to lose, to make a run for the toilet.
Choosing my moment, the next time their side had both sets of Bones, and when their hiders
were ready, I used both my thumbs, my right hand thumb out and clear for all to see and pointed
to my right, which by itself would mean both the opposite players right hands, but at the same
moment, I also pointed with my left thumb, to the left, opposite direction, however with this
thumb held closer into my body so that my players to my right could not see this part of my
guess. Now, everyone but my own players to my right side have seen me make the real point, not
both the hiders right hands, but the middle. When one of the opposing hiders properly expected a
stick and to hide again, my players to my right, seeing my false guess intended only for them,
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became upset and the game stopped for a beginning argument. The entire opposition knew they
were correct, my players to my right had the perception I had made a different guess, however
they were not correct, and I did not immediately correct things with my players, but for just a
couple of moments let the dispute develop to a point that the entire opposing team was beginning
to get angry as well. Only at that critical moment, before it got really out of hand, I corrected my
players, tossed the stick across and everyone sat down to play again. But now the opposite team
was upset collectively, I still had my players to my left that did not become involved with the
arguing, they were not upset, they saw nothing wrong, only wondered what had happened, and
using them, the game was over in only a few minutes, we won. I jumped up to run for the nearest
toilet, the sun was up, and as I turned around, I saw the last portable toilet on the Pow Wow
grounds had just been loaded onto a truck, and it was being driven away.
My Stick Game stories would not be complete if I did not mention The Blackfeet Elder, Oral
Historian and Grandmaster Stick Game player William Running Crane, aka Goat, who also
schooled me in the Blackfeet Oral History account of the Treaty of 1895. Goat is one of the
finest traditional Blackfeet Indians I have ever known. I could never do Goat full justice in these
stories. But I will say here that Goat is without question the most amazing Stick Game player I
had ever encountered. It would be easy for me to write off Goats incredible displays with the
bones as that of a master magician, to all appearances pushing the bones into his ears and
blowing them out of his mouth, if it were not for a single encounter I had where Goat insured I
would never doubt his powers as real. I was in a very small game, facing Goat, one of those
games that is just fun, only a few dollars riding on the game and a small handful of players, four
or five, on each side. I had often in the past seen Goat give a small pop or jerk with his hands
when guessed, before opening his hands to reveal a miss and he would collect a stick. Now, in
this little and otherwise meaningless game, Goat taught me about that little convulsive motion as
the highest order of the game as it has ever been played, by drawing my attention to something I
was doing that I might otherwise never have noticed or understood.
Goat was guessing me, and I automatically slipped into the dream state learned from fasting, I
had to play my best, but I could not block out his eyes penetration, they glittered even when I
was not looking. For that fact, I was keenly aware in which hand I held the unmarked bone.
There was no point to avoid looking at Goat, under the circumstance, when he guessed me. So I
gazed directly at Goat waiting for the guess.
Goat guessed, he pointed, and at that moment I felt a small jump in both my fists, and opening
them, it was revealed to both Goat and myself.. Goat had missed, but actually not. The bones
were the reverse position of how I had hid them, they had switched without my opening my
hands. I was playing in Dream Time, in the awake world. Goat saw this, I was doing something
more typical for him to do.. and he made me look at it.
I won that game and Goat told me I challenge you. Goat wanted me to play him in a one on
one Medicine Game, an old time power exhibition right then, right there, in the style of the old
Blackfeet ceremonial rules, a game he knew I could play. I told Goat I wont, Im afraid of
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you. Goat replied to me Youre not afraid of me. But then he let it go. He was right, I was not
afraid of him. I was actually afraid of how far that contest would go in public, I did not then and
dont to this day know the extent of my own powers relating to the game. I knew, however, that
Goats power was great. In retrospect, too late, I realized I was wrong to pass on the challenge.
Only the real Medicine people in the crowd would have witnessed the actual sorceries, the
phenomena, and a game that would be strictly entertainment at the highest level for their sake.
The uninitiated would only have seen an especially entertaining game. It was a colossal missed
opportunity on my part.
But I made it up to Goat. Later, I bought a photo of a Mountain Goat, an old Billy Goat resting
on a mountainside, from the nationally known wildlife photographer Tom McBride. I gave that
photo to Goat as a gesture of my respect. One of Goats grandsons told me a year or two later
that Goat would quietly invite visitors at his Heart Butte home into his bedroom: to see that very
special photo of himself in its place on the wall.
Later on, about 1990, I was stuck when I played Stick Game. I could not run with the bones
anymore. So I forced myself, strictly as a matter of logic and not medicine, to run, not stay, until
the other players sensed I had my edge again. It wasnt true. I stopped playing.
Rons essay on the Stick Game is the best and most insightful description of this game and its
spiritual underpinnings extant in the literature -Karl Schlesier, Professor Emeritus of

The Blackfoot Titan Mik-api

One of Floyd Heavy Runners great frustrations was the Christian narrative had crept into and
changed the very fabric [values] of the Oral History of the Blackfeet. This began with the Jesuit
penetration of the culture via the women. In the earliest contact times, it was inconceivable [to
the Blackfeet] a religion could present a world view founded on a lie. The Jesuits took advantage
of this by promoting the idea only ONE man had to die, for the women to discover all of their
departed men in the after-life. This was a very effective subversion because Indian life saw many
men die, valued and loved by the women men, titans who did not hesitate to lay down their lives
that the women might live. By the time the Blackfeet had discovered the Europeans were
invertebrate liars, culturally speaking, it was too late. Christianity had a foothold in the culture
and this was not reversed, Blackfoot law prohibited killing ones own people, the only means to
stamp this cultural perversion out. Two centuries later, when the Oral Histories were first
recorded, after the Blackfoot had been deprived of all freedom and were confined to their
reservation, the additional handicaps of Christian interpreters and the American Indian
Religious Crimes Codes which risked jail to demonstrate any association with the old ways of
spirit, further eroded the Oral Histories. By this time, the stories simply could not be brought
forward in a pure state per the ancient narrative.

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What I have done here, with retelling the story of Mik-api, is to remove the Christian bias from
the narrative and restore the original Blackfoot values. No doubt, this will not be a perfect effect
or return to the narrative of 300 years ago, but should give a more accurate idea of the intended
lessons of one of the more important stories of the truly ancients, from the times before horsesFox-eye had been punished severely by the gods who took away all his near relations, because he
was not worthy. He had two young orphaned sisters (cousins) he kept and had made them his
wives, by now all that was left. They confronted Fox-eye and implored him, We cant do this,
look around you at all of our family, your family, our family, gone. This has been a big mistake.
Everyone is leaving us
Fox-eye was known to be stubborn. He understood what he had caused. His pride was great, and
he could not bear to live with his mistake openly and honestly, he would not correct himself and
go on. So he determined to die at first opportunity.
Meanwhile the sisters discussed what might happen, how they might escape a crime against the
laws of spirit, which are not punished by man, rather punished by the gods with terrible luck.
As it happened, there was a great warrior of the people, Mik-api, an older man who had never
taken a wife. Mik-api could have had any wife he pleased but his heart was merciful and wise.
His great power was in his deep understanding of the truly Ancient Beings, the Great Ghosts we
sometimes call upon as gods, not the ordinary ghosts, and any wife he might have taken would
have to live a mistake free life, or be at risk. He suffered living alone these many years but this
was better than bringing disaster on any wife, this was Mik-apis thinking. So Mik-api had
always acted as though he did not notice the many beautiful women who would not fear to die, if
only to honor Mik-api with their love and devotion for his great service to the Blackfoot people.
Then, one of the sisters had cried out If only we could marry Mik-api, our mistake has been
great already, to marry Mik-api would make no difference for us! The other sister said Be
careful what you say! The Ghosts might hear you! But in fact they already had.
Fox-eye, soon after, went with a few others on a Buffalo hunt. A Medicine Woman had called the
Buffalo into a Pishkun with the little stone that faintly chirps like a small bird, the one whose
name we do not often speak aloud, and these men were shooting arrows into the Buffalo trapped
in the stone corral when they were nearly surprised by a war party of Snake Indians, but their
lookout was keen of sight and warned them in time to run back to camp.
Fox-eye taunted the others Who is afraid of Snakes? Watch me, I will not run away!
The others called back to him Why be foolish and die for no good reason? Most our arrows are
spent on the Buffalo, come, return with us!

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But Fox-eye had already determined to die, and stood his ground, waiting for the Snakes rushing
at him. He had his bow and arrow at the ready but it was for nothing, a Snake had out-flanked
Fox-eye, un-noticed. An arrow pierced his heart from the backside and he fell dead without
giving a fight. By the time the Blackfoot hunting party had been able to return with help, they
found Fox-eye dead and the Snakes had run away, out of reach.
When the sisters heard this news, they became badly frightened, the bad luck was drawing ever
closer, now, there was none left but themselves. The sister who had wished aloud to marry Mikapi said There is nothing else to do but this; let us mourn Fox-eye on the little hill behind Mikapis lodge, until he calls for us. This we must do. Her sister agreed and they began those terrible
wails that come from the belly and went on and on, day and night. They were not really
mourning Fox-eye, he had abused his trust while keeping his orphaned near cousins, but these
young women were genuinely mourning the great mistake they had been trapped into, and their
own impending doom.
Finally, Mik-api, when he could no longer bear the sound of the girls mourning, he told his
mother who stayed with him, those poor girls! Who will avenge them? Who will hunt for them?
Go, call them in to talk to me.
And so the sisters came into Mik-apis lodge and sat by the door but kept their faces concealed
with their robe. Mik-api was about to speak when the bolder sister, the one whod wished to
marry him, spoke first and confessed the incest, told everything, even to the wish she had stated
out loud, how it would make no difference if he married them, because they were certain to die
anyway but perhaps they could recover their dignity, at the least.
Mik-api was deeply troubled at what he heard, he fell silent for a long time. Then, finally, he said
to them Go, return to your lodge. You are young but even I, Mik-api, find what you have
confessed to me, a deeply troubling circumstance, with no easy answer. I must visit with the
High Priest of Okan and discuss what you have told me. Perhaps there is a way forward for us
but I dont know. I will try to find a way through this.
The sisters left Mik-api with the first small hope they had known in their young adult lives.
Meanwhile, Mik-api sent his mother to ask the tribes headman of Sun Dance, when would be a
good time to discuss a matter of the deepest gravity.
Nobody had known the cause of the disasters surrounding Fox-eye, only that it was plain a great
mistake had been made and had gone uncorrected. When Mik-api was called to sweat lodge to
discuss with the keeper of the laws, finally the truth would be known.
The complications in this circumstance, per the known laws of the spirit world, were great. No
one would avenge Fox-eye, or mourn him, were the truth to be known. And you cannot ask
people to avenge or mourn falsely. So Fox-eyes spirit would be lingering for a long time, he

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would be frustrated at not being alive or moved on to the Great Infinity and likely would do rash
and angry things.
Fox-eye had to be drawn away from the sisters, they would be particularly at risk. These things
and more were discussed.
After, Mik-api sent his mother to the sisters, to collect Fox-eyes war hammer, his bow, his chert
knife and his shield, these items had to be taken from Fox-eyes burial scaffold. Then he
prepared to depart on the war trail to the camp of the Snakes, he would be leaving his own
weapons behind. When it was noticed the great Mik-api was preparing for war, many warriors
wished to accompany him but he turned them all away, the famous warrior would go alone on
the most legendary war journey of his life.
So Mik-api set out but he did an interesting thing on his way, he went to the valley whose name
we do not say aloud and came within calling distance of the Cottonwood tree Fox-eyes burial
scaffold was located in. It was nearly dark when Mik-api called out Fox-eye! I have your
weapons of war and there is nothing you can do! Now, I will go to the Snakes and make a good
showing with your weapons, something you did not! And with this grave insult, Mik-api drew
the angry ghost of Fox-eye after himself, while continuing his journey. As it was in the old ways
of war, Mik-api ran all night and concealed himself well, to rest during the day.
When night had fallen again, Mik-api resumed running. After this second nights run, Mik-api
was already in the vicinity of the Snakes, the border regions between the tribes, for Mik-api was
of the Pikuni people, the southernmost Blackfeet and neighbors to the Snakes. With daybreak,
Mik-api took shelter in a shallow cave on a cliff-side, a place with a good view. When nightfall
came again, there was a storm and Mik-api delayed leaving his shelter. There was a Snake scout
nearby, he did not wish to be in the storm either and the ghost of Fox-eye guided, or put it in his
mind to go there, taking the Snake to the very cave Mik-api was sheltered in. In the pitch black
they touched and both were startled. They began a hand language conversation by touch, Mik-api
inquired Who are you? The Snake made the sign for his people in a way Mik-api would feel the
symbol and ask Mik-api the identical question. Mik-api made the sign of the River People, an
ally of the Snakes, and his enemy relaxed. Both laid down to wait out the storm. Mik-api kept
himself awake but the Snake slept, a fact for which he would die.
Lying was not an common thing in those days and Mik-api was disturbed in his spirit, and
surprised at himself, he had gained advantage unfairly. But the lie was told, the mistake was
made, he knew a lightning strike could give the lie away. He was quietly up after he knew the
Snake was asleep, while poised with Fox-eyes war hammer, waiting for the lightning. When the
illumination came, he smashed his enemys head with a swift strike. After the storm, Mik-api ran
again, for the rest of the night, to daybreak. The ghost of Fox-eye was not pleased at this
outcome and continued following Mik-api.

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By this time, Mik-api was now properly in the county of the Snakes and at daybreak he saw the
smoke from the morning cooking fires of the Snake camp. So he very carefully made his way to
a vantage point to study the camps layout, to spot the lookout sentries and make his plan. He
saw that one of the guards was negligent, preoccupied with some craft-work that he put down
from time to time, to study the landscape. He was making arrows.
Mik-api came up close behind, stealthily, while the Snake guard was paying close attention to
tying an arrowhead to a shaft with sinew, and in one swift move Mik-api covered the Snakes
mouth with his hand from behind, while his other drove Fox-eyes stone knife into the Snakes
heart. It was a silent killing. Then, quietly, he withdrew.
Working his way to the other side of the camp, Mik-api knew the killing would not go un-noticed
for much of the day. He wished to be opposite direction of the attention it would draw, when
discovered. Perhaps he could then make one more kill and make his escape. He was nearly where
he wished to be but not quite, when there was a great cry over the discovery of the sentry he had
killed. Fox-eye had put it into the mind for someone to wander the way of the dead Snake. Many
of the Snakes were running over there, and Mik-api was caught between a Snake warrior running
towards him and his desired maneuver was failed. He realized there was no way to evade
discovery. Rising up from his concealment with Fox-eyes bow, he called out I am Mik-api and
the Snake had already begun his death chant when Fox-eyes arrow pierced him, for these were
famous words, known widely. Moments later, a second arrow finished him off. But now all of the
Snakes were on the chase and Mik-api did not have the distance he needed, but he would try to
make his escape.
Mik-api ran for the river close by the Snake camp, it was his only chance. A Snake arrow pierced
his arm and he pulled it out while on the run. He had nearly made it to the edge of a high bank
above the river when a second arrow pierced his thigh and Mik-api went down. He rolled over
the rim above the river and dropped some distance, into the water. There Mik-api swam deep
with the swift current, surfaced for air and could hear the Snakes shouting in the distance, went
under again with the current and surfaced again, concealed under a log jam. Here he waited until
dark, and was not discovered but he knew the search for him would resume in the morning. He
moved a log from the bank, with great difficulty, into the water and floated downstream on the
log for much of the night, until he was far away from the Snakes. Meanwhile, the ghost of Foxeye had lost Mik-apis trail, for as a spirit, he dared not go where the under-water ones lurked.
Fox-eye was trapped in the land of the Snakes, possibly forever.
Mik-api had lived to escape the Snakes but he was in serious trouble, still. Now, he had to
remove the arrow from his leg, which he did, but he was left crippled and exhausted. Mik-api
shouted out loudly, of pure frustration, To come so close and fail! and the great one, our brother
we call the Big Badger because we dont dare pronounce his name outside of ceremony, heard
Mik-apis lamentation.

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In those days, our people and our animal relatives could still freely communicate, and our
brother came out of the forest and queried of Mik-api What is the problem? Why is your spirit
Mik-api said look here my brother, I am wounded in my arm and my leg. I am far from home, I
cannot hunt, I cannot even walk.
The very large bear replied Do not despair Mik-api, for I know who you are and our peoples are
related. I will see you home alive. He then brought mud with his hands, to dry over Mik-apis
wounds, took Mik-api to bushes ripe with berries so they both might eat and eventually, over the
days that followed, brought Mik-api home, hanging onto the hair on his back. When the camp of
Mik-api was in sight near the Sun River, below the mountains we call the Backbone, and the
camp guards had seen them in the distance, Mik-apis great brother let him off and vanished into
the foothills.
There was a great commotion in the camp of the Pikuni people when it was announced Mik-api
had returned alive and as expected, were he able to do this, the Buffalo Bulls society greeted
Mik-api with a full regalia dance. But he had yet to do his most difficult task, to complete this
journey. After he had healed and was cutting the rawhide strings that would tie his four piercing
to the center pole of Okan, he had to confess his mistakes to the pole, in front of all the people.
For the first piercing, he confessed he had insulted the dead, as a calculated strategy. For the
second piercing, he recounted he had told a lie to gain advantage for a kill. For the third piercing,
he confessed on behalf of Fox-eye, so that his spirit might find peace. For the fourth piercing, he
confessed on behalf of the sisters he would marry, so their dignity would be restored. And then
Mik-api danced the required four days, first a womans day, which is under the Moon, and then a
mans day, which is under the Sun, and then each once again. Before he was finished, and the
piercing tore away from his breast, each of the sisters had been allowed to bring him a mouthful
of water which passed from their lips to Mik-apis lips, to ease his suffering, a promise of
devotion to this in his future. And it was done. Mik-api lived long yet, for these beautiful women
ever after lived carefully and cared deeply for our hero.
And so it was in the life of the great Mik-api, our Red Old Man.

A Stellar Jay
Pat had a medicine man friend over in the Flathead tribe and their main ceremony is the Blue Jay
dance. When he was visiting at my house one day, I told Pat about a Stellar Jay coming into my
pigeon coop to steal food. Pat was immediately interested, his eyes lighted up. Is he a young
one, can you catch me a young one? Pat wanted to know. I told Pat I thought so. Over the next
several days I kept warning the Jay Im going to catch you and give you to Pat! The Jay paid
no attention. So one morning I took a fish landing net out to the coop and cornered the Jay. Next
thing he was in the net and then a cage. I called Pat and let him know. Pat waited several weeks
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to come pick the Jay up (Medicine men are careful, they dont want something dying on their
hands.) The Jay was eating well, he especially liked earthworms. Finally Pat came and collected
the bird, after I had left for Germany on business. So the Jay lived initially in a cage at Pats
house while they got to know each other. He named the Jay Strawberry for his favorite new
treat. Eventually the Jay was trusted outside the cage and would steal from the plates at
mealtimes. One day it was overlooked that a window was opened while the Jay was out of his
cage and he went out the window. But Strawberry was back in the window just at supper time!
So Strawberry was ready to be a Medicine Man that was Pats plan for the bird.
When it came time of year for Blue Jay ceremony over at Flathead country, Pat arrived and made
a great stir when he introduced Strawberry to the Flathead Medicine Men. The bird was a Chief,
the Boss Medicine Man, a High Priest, whatever you want to call it. Strawberry learned to mimic
the drumbeats to the sacred songs, and if a medicine man was praying over a bowl of berries for
the ceremony, the bird could help himself from his perch on the rim of the bowl. The Flathead
medicine men wanted to keep Strawberry, but Pat would not let the bird go. So a deal was struck:
that Pat had to bring the bird to ceremony each Blue Jay dance season.
It worked out that way for a couple of years. Strawberry was a traveling medicine man and
visited ceremonies in Flathead, Ojibwa, Cree and Blackfeet country. Strawberry became a master
of ceremonial drumbeat. But as the way of the world will have things, Pats main medicine man
friend at the Blue Jay Dance ceremony had passed away, and so Pat set Strawberry free back at
my house, and I was not home at the time.
One morning I was up and outside doing chores, when, from a fir tree in my yard, not twenty feet
away, I heard the perfect cadence of a Giveaway Dance; a ceremonial song was being tapped out.
As the hair stood on the back of my neck, I tried to look out of the corner of my eye to see what
on earth was happening. The bird finished off the song perfectly, right to the staccato ending, and
made my skin crawl. Then I saw it was a Jay, and he laughed at me and flew off. I went into the
house and had a long, quiet cup of coffee at the kitchen table, where I could see the tree through
a window.
A couple of days or so later, it was early spring, I noticed a large gathering of Jays in a
Cottonwood tree not far from the house. The tree had buds, but was not yet leafed out. I sat on a
stump and only watched. There were well over 100 Jays in that tree. Every Stellar Jay for miles
around must have been present. One Jay was apparently telling a story, anyway he was the only
person speaking for the most part. Every now and again this Jay would pause and the rest of the
these Jay people would briefly make a collective racket. Then Strawberry was speaking again
and next thing, there it was, he was tapping out a recognizable ceremonial beat for the rest of the
I would not be surprised if, twenty-five years hence, some naturalist notes the peculiar
drumming of the Stellar Jays in Glacier National Park. The old time Indians would know better.

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Happy The Indian Guide

There was a Whiteman that hired an Indian guide to take him through the Rocky Mountains. This
Whiteman was from New York City and he had taken the train as far as the Rocky Mountain
Front, but that was as far as the tracks went, in those days. He had a stereotypical idea of Indians,
he did not bring food for the journey beyond that point, the Indian guide he would hire would
also hunt for him, that was the Whitemans thinking
Most of the Indian guides the Whiteman approached did not like the fact that the Whiteman was
not prepared for the journey, and he was having a hard time finding anyone to guide his trip. But
he approached one of our special people, one of the Indians we always look out for, because
hanging out with one of these special ones, we know that anything can happen. But the
Whiteman did not know he had hired one of these special people. Sort of like the Whiteman
saying, All Chinamen look alike, he could not tell the difference between a sane Indian and this
savant idiot
So the Whiteman hired his Indian guide, Happy, and they set out together to cross the mountains
without any food.
And without weapons or blankets
The Whiteman did not mind, he had read nearly all of the dime novels about the western tribes
and he was confident that his Indian guide, Happy, could bring him through anything.
Meanwhile, what he did not realize, was what it meant to Happy to be an Indian. Happy was
used to privation. He had more often than not slept out of doors with only his light jacket to keep
warm, and was no stranger to going for a week at a time without a proper meal. This was the
early reservation days
The second day into the trek, the Whiteman was already becoming faint from hunger, Happy had
not yet fashioned a bow and arrow, and the Whiteman began to worry. But Happy jovially
reassured him about every concern expressed, Happy would make the bow and arrow, Happy
would hunt, they would eat, they would have nice tanned hides for blankets so it would not be as
cold that night, but in the meanwhile, they just kept walking, the Whiteman had to keep up,
because Happy never stopped walking, and the Whiteman did not know where he was
Towards the end of the third day, the Whiteman was both desperate and beginning to get an
inkling that Happy did not discern between wishful thinking and reality. He desperately wished
Happy would make the bow and hunt, reality was setting in however, and reality was, Happy did
not know how. Happy only knew how to go hungry and keep walking and be Happy
On the morning of the fourth day, the Whiteman began to cry when the perfectly happy Happy
got up and started walking. He had no choice but to get up and follow. But now Happy was a
little bit hungry himself. So Happy watched as he walked that day
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Towards dusk, Happy suddenly grabbed up a stone and threw it into a tree, knocking a large Blue
Grouse from its perch. Pouncing very quickly, Happy had the big wild chicken by its neck. He
was beaming. Happy then stated, I have a chicken for my dinner
The Whiteman had other plans for the chicken
First he tried reason, he suggested Happy should share, but no, Happy could reason too, this was
Happys chicken, the forest was full of chickens and the Whiteman could get his own. The
Whiteman knew he was too weak to take the chicken from Happy, so he resorted to guile. He
knew from the dime novels that these people were big on dreams. He made a proposal to Happy.
Tonight they would dream for the chicken. The most powerful dream would win. By now, the
Whiteman had finally, truly realized that Happy was a simpleton. He would have no trouble
making up the winning dream. And Happy accepted the challenge
They went to sleep
In the morning, the Whiteman sat up and announced his dream. He had gone back to New York
City. Arriving at the Gentlemens Club for dinner, there was a raffle for a Blue Grouse from the
Rocky Mountains and he had won. The Mayor himself drew the winning ticket from the hat. The
large wild chicken was served with salad and croutons. He magnanimously saved 1/2 the chicken
to bring back to his Indian friend Happy. Looking at Happy, who suddenly, for the first time, was
not looking happy, but was briefly showing genuine remorse, the Whiteman asked What did
you dream?
Happy said When I saw you leave in your dream, I followed, to see what you would do. When
you arrived at the Gentlemans Club, I tried to go in for dinner too, but they stopped me at the
door. No Indians allowed. So I returned here, to eat the chicken, but I forgot to save you
The Whiteman carved his initials on a rock near that dream place: J.S. Died Here July 14 1884.
Happy had kept walking

Essay on Native American Humor

Napi. Just who is this guy? Napi is many things. Napi is a teacher, an archetype, our Blackfoot
ancestor and much more. Napi is a god, he is like Jesus or a holy man. Napi is the devil, Napi is
the first real human being, Napi is a fool, a friend, and the trickster- Old Man Coyote. Essentially
Napi is all the possibilities embodied in any Blackfoot MALE

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Everyone learns from Napi (his stories) in Blackfoot culture, and the idea behind Napi is to
foster what is sane and healthy in men and put strict controls on what is not. Because men are
men, there are the mens Napi stories which are supposed to always be cleaned up in the
presence of women (sorry.) Culturally speaking, some of the mens Napi stories simply should
never be told in the womens presence at all
Did the women have the prurient Napi stories? Men were never admited (NEVER) to the
womens secret societies, so we (men) supposedly must accept at face value the idea the women
only knew the cleaned up versions of Napi stories. But because I am Napi (a Blackfoot male)
onetime I tricked one of the old ladies into an admission of sorts, that is I made a reference to
Napis butt
When one of my elder woman teachers was present, I had an opportunity to identify myself in
the Blackfoot language.. and instead of using my proper Blackfoot name Pee-ma-na-kwan (man
with a rope), I identified myself as Penucquem (Puh-nuck-qwee-um) or that is to say I identified
myself as Napis rectum with the proper/formal expression
That drew a belly laugh from the old lady, the spontaneous and deep sort of laugh burst out that
would make a man think she had heard the dirty stories the men tell (but only behind the
womens backs.)
In actuality I cannot know, it may be she simply believed I am an asshole, that interpretation
works just as well. And as she was my elder teacher, I had to stop there, because she
subsequently gave a look of spine shivering evil, as though daring me to die for having breeched
her dignity and caused her involuntary laugh. It is safe to say I never broached the subject with
her again. She was what would be known in the old matriarchal times as a Ni-na-wa-ki, or a
woman that was the highest form of Blackfoot chief. You do NOT cross these women
I will come back to Napi, and how he ate his own ass for lunch, but first I think I need to explain
Indian humor is more typically healthy, and give folk here in the outside world some idea of how
it works
Native humor is all about keeping things honest, in a fun and entertaining way, and consequently,
this humor is often self-deprecating in a gentle or harmless way, that is laughing at having made
a fool of oneself, or jokes can be created with a little license describing anothers encounter with
lifes many surprises. Spontaneous jokes are appreciated, a quick, creative wit is a prized
possession in the personality. The taciturn Indian is a face presented to the outside world only,
within the community life is filled with fun and liveliness in most conversation.
A Honky Snow Cone
I was at a pow-wow in the southwest where people did not readily know me as an Indian..
looking like ZZ Tops. I was watching the dancers, there was a Rastafarian dreadlocks White guy
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doing what appeared to be a stoned southern style war dance, overly exaggerated and out of time
and I was amazed at the Indians straight faces as this guy made an incredible spectacle of
himself. I could not help but laugh, it was that ridiculous
I was thirsty, it was hot, I walked to a concessions stand to see the possibilities with this fresh
memory of someone that made me feel pretty stupid about my original race. The Native ladies
ceased their conversation, normal when a White comes into earshot, I noticed that and realized
they would not know I was Indian. As I approached the stand, I did not have a joke in mind about
my Whiteman appearance but being Indian, it had to pop out
The only refreshments on sale were all sugar laced poisons, generic colas and other pop, and I
did not want any of that. I ordered what I figured was least sugar poisonous, a snowcone. The
(quite pretty, actually) young woman dutifully scooped the crushed ice into the paper cone and
then turned to face me and asked Which color? (sugar syrup, red, blue, green or yellow)
I asked Can I have it just as it is?
She seemed surprised No color?
I replied with the perfect musical reservation inflection: We can just call it a honky snow-cone.
She looked down at the cone of pure white ice she was holding for me with a dumbfounded
expression and the other girls broke out in involuntary laughter but quickly recovered their
straight faces and gave this what looked like a Whiteman with perfect Native expression a
suspicious look (wondering for a brief moment what had happened, is it safe?) but I had got them
She broke out in a gentle and wry, but friendly smile as she handed me the little cone of ice and
took my money.. as I said quietly I am diabetic and she replied while now smiling in a truly
sweet way and with genuinely friendly voice, also quietly, Thank you.
That Thank you stated more than the outsider would ever imagine. Indians dont typically say
thank you except in heartfelt circumstance. It was Thank you for being genuine and I
recognize now you are Indian, and it was Thank you for the joke and bringing a great laugh
into our day.
Who Framed Melvin Bunny?
Because men are men (yes, in Native America as well) and because the culture is breaking down
and becoming western, the humor is becoming ever more dangerous, as it must, to serve keeping
the culture honest

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So, to another real life Indian story. I hate to do this to my old friend Melvin Running Rabbit (his
Indian nickname is Melvin Bunny) but here is how it is in Indian country today. It is a story
about accountability
Melvin (if he is still alive) is a really good guy but he had a blind spot. He never looked at the
possible consequences of those times he occasionally ran with the wrong crowd when he liked to
go out of town to indulge in a really good Indian drinking binge, and those can be pretty
stupendous events. I had checked it out for myself on a couple of occasions, any damn thing can
happen, it is crazy to drink with Indians or, better said, when Indians drink, crazy things happen,
like waking up from passed out with only one braid, the other having been cut off. Melvin was
destined to a bigger joke. The Indian joke that backfired, but as the Indian world is not logical,
neither are the consequences.
Melvin had, with several other Indians, drunk himself into the oblivion that seems required at
these often extraordinary events, in a motel room in Great Falls, Montana, in the 1980s. There
was a popular animated video out at the time: Who Framed Roger Rabbit
As it happens, there was one late arrival to this drinking binge who did not pass out to the
typically near comatose condition and he was feeling a bit hard, or hard up. So he pulled the
pants off of a passed out woman, used her like an ultra-conservative Republican on viagra would
use a plastic blow-up doll for sex and then he had an idea for a joke. He pulled the passed out
Melvins pants down and dragged him on top of the passed out woman he had just squirted full
of his stuff, and left. That was a bad joke, but it gets better
If he had not done that second part of his criminal act, but rather had pulled the womans pants
back up instead, he likely would have gotten away with the rape, because every Indian woman
that attends these binges knows the risk, it has happened many a time and is often the joke story
of the modern Indian drunks. She likely would have been disgusted with herself, having
discovering what had happened to her, taken responsibility for being there and let go of it. End of
But as fate would have it, along comes a family member looking for her and stumbles on the
passed out old guy, Melvin, lying on top of the much younger woman, both with pants down. He
called the cops and Melvin went to jail and was charged with rape
Melvin professed his innocence at his arraignment, the Indian humor telegraph was working hard
on the story, supposedly in his cell Melvin was given a Viagra pill, a playboy magazine and a
paper cup, to get his DNA and the subsequent big story on the Indian humor telegraph was:
Who Framed Melvin Bunny?

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Napi Eats His Butt

I close this essay with a story of the proverbial trickster, our Napi. There were many stories of
Napi holding philosophical conversations with his rectum, and this is where typically the Napi
stories become really dangerous. If you can understand this story, then you will have a good idea
of how to see where human nature has gone wrong in the Whiteman. Because this is the Indian
story of the Evangelical Whiteman, the Whitemen we have met in Andrew Jackson and George
Bush. It is about the Whiteman that rules America today. It is about corporate America and
nacissism in the extreme. It is about narcissistic men like Barack Obama. It is about a man that
does not learn from his mistakes. It is about a man that does not put two and two together
concerning the consequences of his actions. It is about a man that does not understand his
relationship to essential functions in nature necessary to his survival. It is about a man that does
not pay attention or listen. It is about a narcissistic man so full of himself, he lies to himself
about others good intentions. It is a story about how not to live your life. And perhaps most of
all, it is a story about recycling old and failed ideas. The name of this story is Napi Eats His
Butt. The story is told by Napis asshole, Penucquem, and it goes like this:
Napi had been to a great feast with his brothers. He returned to his camp very full of food and
tired. Napi curled up to sleep by his fire, and you know where a dogs nose is when he curls up to
Spuurrpp! Napi farted and it woke him up, his eyes were watering. Napi said aloud Well, that
was really rude and curled back to sleep
Spuurrpp! Napis head popped up again, irritated, Napi shouted at his rectum: Penucquem! If
you wont let me sleep, I am going to teach you a lesson! Napi curled up again.
Spuurrpp! That really did it. Jumping up, Napi grabbed up Tail, out of harms way, and sat on his
campfire to get even with Penucquem. Yii! Yii! Napi really took off, like only a hurt dog does,
and this started him on his travels.
Napi moved for a long time, he was thinking of how Penucquem had bit him really hard when he
had tried to punish him, he didnt understand how his asshole could do that to him while pushed
down on the fire. It was Penucquem that should have cried out and ran away.
So Napi kept moving and thinking, he was traveling a long time in a big circle
Napi walked and thought about it for so long that finally the large scab fell off of his rectum and
still walking in a circle, he came across the scab and said What do you know! Dry Meat! Napi
was getting hungry again about this time and he was happy to have found the dried meat some
Indian had lost.

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The Magpies shouted out to him Napi! Dont eat that! It fell off of your rectum! Napi shouted
back to the Magpies Youre not fooling me, you just want this dry meat for yourselves!
And then very delicately because there was not much of it, and with a lot of savor because he
was hungry, and very deliberately, so the Magpies would envy him while watching, nip by nip,
Napi ate his butt.
Hun Neow Wah Nee Moo Oosss (This is what your ass has to say)
The best part of the story about Napi eating his butt is, it was just such a good story I couldnt
help myself, I stole it from the Crees. I stole it from Wee-say-kay-cha (the Cree trickster) and
gave it to our Napi. Its a Blackfoot story nowTwo Medicine Men, both teachers, visited the big city and took in a service at the cathedral.
Returning home, they took their Indian students on a journey of Discovery.
First, they killed the nicest kid in the group and told the rest it was their fault for being born.
But now, if they would eat the nice kid and drink his blood, calling it communion, they would not
be held responsible for anything, ever.
And this conferred upon them the right to tell other people how to live their lives- what they can
and cannot do Penucquems Journal

Native Americans and Race

A Native American concept of race never existed as we know the idea of race in the modern
The term for a Black man translates from Blackfoot language as Black White Man and the
thought behind this is completely alien to modern western ideation. The Blackfoot Black White
Man derives from interaction with the Black cavalry regiment stationed north of Browning
during the military occupation of the Blackfeet reservation (into the 1930s.) Black is
descriptive solely in a superficial sense and when coupled to White, points directly to
European mentality or state of mind and is not primarily concerned with skin color. This is
reinforced with the Cree translation for White Man being essentially identical concept: Not like
us in a sense of thought process. This again loops back in identical sense in the proper
Blackfoot term for a White Man per se: Napi Kwan or White Man refers to someone who is
crazy from a cultural perspective and figures in the Blackfoot proverb Everyone knows the
White Man is crazy. All of the translations taken with the proverb point to color as superficial or
descriptive only, with the emphasis on state of mind or thought process. This is clearly reinforced
by the noted action anthropologist Karl Schlesier when he states:

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In the old world of the tribes skin color never mattered; what mattered were the expressions of
ones spirit and the voice of the heart
Karl has spent most of his life in close association with the Southern Cheyenne, and is honorary
son, brother and father to three generations of Cheyenne Holy Arrow Keepers and most certainly
would be in a position to know this as well. Karl, like myself, is a White Indian and we are not
discriminated against in the culturally intact Native community on account of our skin color. If it
were a Black Man had achieved the old, culturally intact thought process, their welcome into the
Native community would be no different to our own; complete, warm and integrated.
In the present times, when we see modern academics discuss Race in relation to Native America,
particularly when those academics skins are Red, we are witnessing European mentality coopting original Native thought. Were there to be an original native thought assessment of todays
politically correct arguments over race in stereotype such as team sport mascots, terms such as
Indians, Redskins and Braves would be patently meaningless in any sense of insult. Wilma
Mankiller, past chief of the Cherokee, drove a Jeep Cherokee Chief and I am certain her choice
would have been deliberate and taken in a sense of Native American humor. In the more
traditional Native communities, you have Redskins memorabilia and fans, the politically
correct arguments simply do not apply and in fact are never given a second thought.
The modern racial stereotypes are so patently preposterous to the original Native American
mindset, the racial ideas are not worthy of consideration beyond Indian humor:
Why dont Indians marry Blacks? Because wed have children too lazy to steal!
Of course Native Americans do sometimes marry Blacks. The point of the humor is actually built
into world-view where human experience has an aspect that is a cosmic joke, in a mental
construct that does not suffer ego in a sense of the western mentality. The preceding joke is
actually funny in the original Native context and its only bearing on Race is pointing out the
idiocy of racial stereotype and the falseness of any cultural ego behind the very idea. The
American Indian deity of many tribes, Old Man, serves as an ego buster in a culture where ego
as the western personality knows it, is historically considered to be more than undesirable, it is a
mental disorder based in self-illusion:
When Old Man knelt to drink, he saw cherries over his head and forgetting he had knelt to drink,
he reached for these cherries in the reflection!
Of course Old Man, fooled by the illusion and consequently wet from head to toe, looked like an
Racial affronts are grounded in the ego of non-indigenous cultures and the essential concept in
and of itself, cannot find traction in original Native worldview and thought. The very idea of
Race is equivalent to reaching for cherries in the reflection. The alien concept of self-importance
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is the ultimate underlying cultural principle in the Blackfoot proverb Everyone knows the
Whiteman is crazy. Old Man the fool, Napi to the Blackfeet, and the Napi in the Blackfoot
expression Napi Kwan that translate as White Man, are one and the same.
Were original Native thought process applicable to African origins, Chimpanzees, Gorillas and
Baboons would be perceived in the community as magnificent creatures. The stupid primates
would be those people who were possessed of European mentalities looking down on these
sentient beings which, in Native view, possess a greater practical social intelligence than those
who would consider these creatures as lesser to humans.
That all life stands on par with humanity is not exclusive to original Native American philosophy
it would appear; this author has read of a Black African tribe, living in proximity to
Chimpanzees, know the Chimpanzees as people of the forest, indicating other nonmainstream cultures perceive their living surroundings in a similar, non-egoic light.
A different perception to the modern, for certain.
Note: Authentic Native American philosophy has, for the most part, been boarding schooled,
uncle tom-tomd (stereotyped), and native studied out of existence (in precisely that order.) In
the present time, relating to any politically correct western anthropology program with the
native studies euphemism, it is the western ideas are coming to dominate the native perception
of themselves. With the loss of language & oral tradition in the original form (Native Studies in
the western university system reflects this loss), these people dont even know who they were

The Five Rules Of Indigenous Understanding

1) I dont know anything (no one can know what to expect)
2) Never lie to yourself
3) Practice invisibility
4) No fear
5) Paradox is in everything (there can be an exception to any preceding rule)

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Cosmos & Consciousness (Notes)

Relating to the original perception-philosophy of North America as known by just a few
Blackfoot into modern times, it was Floyd HeavyRunner had stated to me on more than one
occasion his opinion the Aztecs got the Spaniards because they had strayed furthest from the
true way. Not that he thought the Blackfeet were in any respect lucky.
Another observation of Floyds was to relate a story of an anthropologist whod visited one of his
elder cousins to understand matters the old people by now realized the Europeans had no
capacity to grasp. When inquiring of phenomena along the lines of what the Niitsitapi had known
as naaks (the consciousness possessed by ones surroundings in nature), Floyds uncle had
finally stated to the anthropologist I could explain it to you until were both blue in the face and
youd never get it! Now its my turn to try:
There is a theory had been postulated by Princeton Professor Julian Jaynes on ancient
consciousness he labelled the bi-carmel mind. He came close to the ancient mentality I have
attempted to explain but he wasnt spot on. He expected there was no sense of I in the ancients.
In a way this is correct but his first mistake was the assumption of no self-awareness. His second
mistake was of audio and visual hallucinations which must be obeyed. It doesnt work like that. I
can understand the typical western mentality could struggle with the idea one could possess self
awareness without ego, but in fact this is possible. The point of explaining about the living
clock had been to illustrate one can see oneself as integrated to a larger consciousness or as a
cell in a greater organism attuned to purpose stemming from a mystery one can function within
but never issue dictum. Here is examples of how it practically functions:
Your mind can search but none of this is necessarily meaningful or possessed of element of
reality until the clock confirms what it is you need to know, from one event to the next.
Suppose you came to a fork in the trail in unfamiliar territory; your mind puts out a question ..
which path? A large bird of prey suddenly (in that precise moment of asking) drops out of a tree
and flies down one of the forks and your direction is known. This (or similar experience) will be
the consistent, accurate, observable phenomena for those who keep tuned to or live within the
And yes, you could hear voices but unlike the western schizophrenic, there is no imperative other
than a rational trust. For instance, in a potentially lethal circumstance you might have to make a
split-second decision that would determine life or death when faced with a choice; and a voice
you both know and trust states clearly what you must do and it will have been precisely the
correct decision to save ones life.
These preceding are but two examples of the ancient mentalitys capability which also included
long distance sight in real time (remote viewing) with phenomenal accuracy and more. Ive
lived in this world, in community which experienced these things and I know it works.

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Now, if the ancient model of understanding is correct; that is our cosmos is possessed of its
own unique awareness, is a sentient being in its own right, is possessed with powers of volition
altogether independent of European cultural mentality concept; and this sentient awareness cares
more for the whole of everything than any individual or individual species; then it stands to
reason every manipulation attempted by modern civilization to prolong itself against the will of
our cosmos will be frustrated; no clever trick will suffice, no computer model sustain, no remedy
be adequate: to pursue any future that does not fall into line with our cosmos determination of
the direction to be taken. In which case, well be increasingly erased until humanity decides to
back off and quit piling on the pressure the current model or sustained development demands of
our environment.
Im not going into the ancient concept of linear time for the simple reason it just seems like too
much to try and explain. Ill simply note it would be really smart to stop digging things up,
whether hydrocarbons or archaeology.
Fear and survival instinct are distinct things, fear attends only the western ego I which senses it
is not real. Got a heavy perspiration-body odor problem that isnt physical labor related? Youve
got fear. This can be shut down with reorganizing the mind on ancient model.
It was likely the common cold had depopulated the native nations first, followed by measles and
small pox. These initial depopulation events had preceded Coronado from the south and had run
their course before New England was colonized. The legacy of this is the tipi rings
anthropologists generally (mistakenly) believe are much older. Prior to adopting wooden stakes
from the early trans-Appalachia traders tents, it had been the habit of the Plains Indians to stack
the stones used to secure their tipis, when breaking camp. In cases where the stones had not been
stacked, leaving tipi rings, it indicates de facto burial sites where the occupants had died. I
chuckle at the anthropologists scratching their heads over clusters of cairns to which purpose
theyve no idea to assign, and subject to endless speculations; failing to understand it is little
more than a case of good housekeeping where the stones were neatly stacked when the tipis had
been taken down and camp moved.
Most of Big Lakes band of Small Robes had been destroyed by the Crow .. where a large
remnant of surviving women and children were the base from which a Blackfoot speaking band
of Crow Indians had sprung. After this event, Big Lakes people, the Small Robes, vanish as a
proper entity from the Blackfoot oral history. There were a few scattered Small Robes remnants
assimilated by the other bands.
It was the Aputosi Pikuni were expelled for criminal behaviors following the Jesuits making
inroads into that group. This fact earned them the sobriquet Ski-ni Pikuni which is hard for me
to translate but means something along the lines of poor in a sense of who theyd become.
I have to shut this off somewhere and because we should never altogether exclude humor, Ill
close with this anecdote. It was Mike Little Dog had related a story to me of stark contrast of
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between the ancient man and the modern. According to Mike, when hed returned from the
Korean War, there was opportunity to make money as extras in a film. This was a generation of
Blackfeet who knew hard physical work, and it was the strong young men of his generation were
cast as warriors. To add authenticity, real bows belonging to their ancestors were brought out of a
collection .. and the bows of their grandfathers were so strong .. they couldnt pull them!

This work is based primarily in the culture of the Northern Plains Indians. Attributable quotes
are in italics, even those Ive not attributed, no matter the source, on account of some quotes had
been based in information taken from the several oral histories which belong to no one person.

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