Tag Archives: Native American

Embracing Cultural Diversity

PSALM MAKER COVER      People who consider themselves so different from their named enemies should plant a crop and work a field together.  During the labor, they would talk about their children and find the common ground of parenting.  At the harvest, they would hold cooperation in their hands as they offer up with pride a melon or squash.  The fruits of labor should not be weapons that would put the blood of children in fields where water should run.  Has the society of human beings become too complex to realize such simplicity? ~  Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones

In an age where conflict resolution is a lost art, and religions vie for dominance, what alterations in human psyche are possible toward a goal of peace and understanding?

My tool for creating multicultural awareness is the novel.  I believe that the novel isSmoky table superior to non-fiction and journalism in altering behavioral consciousness.  Of course, to effect changes of heart and mind, the author must first have readers, or at least, a body of citizens who can read.  When you hear the phrase “reading is fundamental,” the deep importance of books is implied.

Literature is about the human heart.  Literature is about human spirituality as much as it is about patterns in human behavior.  I drank coffee with William Faulkner when we were both at the University of Virginia in the early 1960s; and although he was a consummate craftsman in the structuring of character and circumstance, when pushed by intellectual graduate students to define his literature, he replied that he wrote about the human heart.

What do I write about?  I write about the human heart, the heart being a metaphor for the sacred center of our beingness, or the denial of our connection to each other.  Crime germinates from this denial.  War germinates from this denial.  When we believe ourselves separate from each other, our behaviors become prejudiced, and our society fragments into conflict.

Medicine wheelYou cannot have a sustainable environment without a sustainable people to inhabit it.  We must have sustainable human cultures that are the lifeblood of evolutionary biodiversity.  We need the multicultural approaches to Reality through language, myths, and traditions to insure the rich continuation of humanity.  We need to honor and respect each other in our differences—not just for the purpose of social harmony, but also for the greater purpose of achieving enlightenment as spiritually aware creations.  We undermine the destiny of humanity when we yield to conflict and prejudice.  Humanity is a DNA-related family.   What can create this behavioral awareness?

We look at the current worldwide conflicts of culture and religion, and we see a continuation of the basic error of humanity.  And the macrocosm—the conflicts between nations—only mirrors the microcosm of the conflicts within our local communities and within our own minds as we deal with individual relationships:  the husband with the wife, the parent with the child, the employer with the employee, the neighbor with the neighbor, the seller with the buyer.

Monty at a book signing in Chicago

Monty at a book signing in Chicago

In the five novels of the Booker Series, I set out to find the answer to an important question:  Can a person conditioned in a society fermented in conflict change, and by altered awareness, become a righteous behaving human being?  Is it possible to cast off all the negative conditioning of race and class and allow behavior to arise from that metaphorical place of the heart?  Is it possible to remake ourselves as human beings?

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book cover

I started out with a spiritually desperate middle-aged man going literally naked into the night.  He had every material advantage; and yet he felt so empty of meaning and purpose in his life that he walked out of his affluent home to offer himself up, to surrender to the discovery of his true nature.

No one culture or religion has yet put Reality in a box, or in a book.  Humanity is an expression of life.  Its driving force is continuation.  Its diversity is the natural seeking of that continuation.  Through language, and songs, and dance, and craft elevated to art, we interpret Reality, the Great What Is.  We seek to understand it, to touch it with our minds.  Sometimes, we culturally dare to label these observations, these beliefs as Truths.  But what has proven to be Absolute?  Even in the highest levels of our science, history has yielded no absolutes.  What is the big picture?  Where does the Reality of the macrocosm of the wide universe meet the microcosm of the subatomic world?  And even if science gives us a Unified Field Theory, how will that theory of Truth and Absolutes help me in my relationship with my wife, my daughters, my colleagues, my neighbors?  How will an idea of Reality help me in the crucible of relationship?

Pueblo Indians share their culture in New Mexico

Pueblo Indians share their culture in New Mexico

My point is—no one grand idea, or any single collection of ideas, leads us to a truth that stimulates righteous behavior.  Nevertheless, there are elements in every expression of culture that point the way to successful relationships.  These are the elements that we want to embrace in each other.  These are the elements that honor family values and stress the strengths of cooperation and consideration.  And if you achieve cooperation and consideration, will compassion be far behind?  And in compassion, in unselfishness, there is even the possibility of love.

The great Teachers of life and Reality have told us to love one another; to start from love, the metaphorical heart, and then fulfillment and happiness will follow.  But in the process of communal living, love has become a distant, theoretical absolute, a practical impossibility.  Love thy neighbor?  You mean love that jerk!?

Monty waits for a chance encounter on the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

Monty waits for a chance encounter on the plaza in Taos, New Mexico

If we cannot start from altruistic, unselfish love in all relationships, then let’s turn the equation around.  Let’s make love-thy-neighbor the result, and not the guilt-laden cause in the social equation.  What if we start out on the left-hand side of the equals sign with the numeral for acceptance?  Suppose I accept you for who you are and make an effort to understand where you are coming from in your cultural attitudes.  Suppose I walk a half-mile in your shoes.  Then suppose I add the numeral for cooperation.  Suppose I see your needs for water rights as reasonable and environmentally correct.  Then suppose I work with you, side by side, on a project to improve our collective community.  Suppose I sweat with you, laugh with you, and even cry with you.

And now my equation needs another addition.  Now I must add consideration and multiply it by Lost in LV cover no nameconcern.  Now, I honor your sacred places and remove the epithets of marginalization from my patterns of speech.  In my attitudes and behaviors, I show you respect.  I share my ethnic foods with you, my songs, my legends, my family stories.  I tell you that the futures of our grandchildren are co-mingled.  If your children cannot find meaning and purpose and fulfillment in this community, then neither can mine.

KokopelliYou are so marvelously different from me, but I love your differences.  Please don’t change.  Preserve your culture, your language, your unique perspective of Reality, because our society needs each point-of-view to survive.  We cannot afford to lose you.  We need you as part of our continuation as a humanity.  Fry bread, corn tortilla, rye, pumpernickel, and even white bread.  Everyone is important when you add it up, when you balance the equation of relationship and experience love as the answer.

New Mexico kivaIt is not necessary to begin with some abstract concept of love to achieve a positive community relationship.  Start with simple openness to learning about your neighbors.  Allow curiosity to enter.  Be available.  Understand that nothing gets better until you do.  No one learns until you do.  No one works until you do.  No one cooperates until you do.  No one shares, or laughs, or cries until you do.  And ultimately, no one loves until you do.  Those are the universal rules of relationship—out there on alien planets and right here wherever you live.

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Visionary Fiction: The Booker Series Restoration

 

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book coverLOST IN LAS VEGAS book coverSave the Good Seed coverDead Water Rites coverPSALM MAKER COVER

This blog is quite different from my others.  It’s the kind of blog that an author hopes he or she would never write, but like most changes that at first seem unwelcome, a new way of working has emerged.

My Booker Series novels are considered pioneer books in the Visionary Fiction genre, and I have both written and lectured about that new literature.

The Booker Series began with Naked Into The Night in 1997 when the character Booker walked naked out of his affluent suburban Virginia home to remake himself, journeying cross-country to live among the Pueblo Indians of the Southwest.  The series lasted for 16 years in the book marketplace before the publisher de-listed the books and reverted the rights back to me.

It happens.  A reversion of rights essentially removes the novels from being purchased as print copies or as e-books.  If action is not taken by the author, the de-listed books are in danger of disappearing.

With the help of friends in the book trade, my wife Pat has restored the e-book availability of the four Booker Series novels, and we are excited to announce that she has just added the formerly unpublished fifth book in the series, Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones.  All of the books are currently available on Amazon, with more e-book platforms to come.

Prior to the de-listing, I purchased a limited number of the trade paperback copies.  The cover price of these four novels was $51.80.  This limited four-book series can be purchased from me at a 50% discount, plus $10 for shipping within the continental USA, for a total cost of $35.80, and each book will have a personal inscription.  For purchase details (sets only), please contact me by e-mail here.

By taking back the rights to the books, we were also able to make all of the e-books available for an affordable $2.99 each.

Please accept our gratitude for your support of the Booker Series over the years.  We hope that keeping the books available will reach a new generation of readers who demand meaningful substance from their literature.  I consider Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones to be the most important book that I have ever written.

PSALM MAKER COVER  “Without the conditioned past of the mind, the being is able to focus completely on the present, to experience everything as fresh, new, and amazing.  In relationship, the non-judgmental presents no barriers.  It is a quality that others can perceive.  It opens the door to friendship, trust, and affection.  It allows for happiness in every circumstance.”  —Booker Jones

 

NAKED INTO THE NIGHT book coverMonty Joynes is a genuine find by Hampton Roads.  His novel portrays not only a culture, an environment, a political reality, but also a psychological drama that includes gripping scenes like one in which the protagonist makes peace in a bar fight, and another where he becomes a spiritual guide to a friend dying of cancer.  Joynes has written the tale of a man who undergoes a radical inner transformation, walks away from his life as a successful real estate broker, husband, and father, and manifests in his new life as a homeless drifter, the outer life that reflects his inner transformation.  In lucid prose, Joynes narrates as compelling an example of a person choosing essence life and accepting the consequences as you are likely to find in modern fiction.”   —The Independent Press Book Review

LOST IN LAS VEGAS book cover“Lost in Las Vegas continues the story of Naked Into the Night.  After a profound, likely authentic, visionary kiva ritual, the Anglo’s adopted Pueblo tribe elders select him to rescue a young Indian man who is a prodigy of traditional dancing, and a potential successor to leadership, from the lifestyle of a performer in a Las Vegas resort hotel.  The contrast, between the consciousness that the Pueblo traditions propagate and the brilliant distractions of Vegas life, could hardly be more dramatic.  It makes for high drama, genuine spiritual struggle with illusion of various kinds, and excellent reading.”    — The Independent Press Book Review

 

Save the Good Seed cover “We walk with respect around this man, even if he’s white,” says one Pueblo man to another in SAVE THE GOOD SEED by Monty Joynes.  The white man they speak of is Booker Washington Jones, once Winn Conover a.k.a. Anglo Who Became Chief Old Woman’s Son, recently relocated to living in New Mexico among Pueblo compatriots.  In meeting August (“Ray”) Rey, a “Lost Bird” dissociated from his Pueblo people when he was “adopted” into white society 44 years before, readers are brought close to both sides of the alienation issue.  Facts of our government’s anti-Native American history flesh out their story.

 SAVE THE GOOD SEED is also about the touching parallel development of two middle-aged men finally finding themselves at home in a culture completely different from the one in which they were raised.  The warmth of this moving tale offers us the opportunity to actually share in the exquisite joy and solidarity of the Pueblo people coming together to live out their mission:  “In every moment, person or object, is an opportunity for connection.  Our role is to be aware of the potential and bring it into realization.”    —Heidi Rain, New England Spirit of Change Magazine

 

Dead Water Rites cover “What Monty Joynes has accomplished in DEAD WATER RITES, his fourth book in the remarkable Booker series, is the rare joining of a page-turning story line, lively with action and memorable characters, together with a sustained poetic meditation on the power and glory of water in the world.  The spiritual vision, the outward and inner lives of the invincible Southwestern Indians, are beautifully summoned up and celebrated.  DEAD WATER RITES is a powerful story and a pure pleasure to read.”   —George Garrett, Author and Critic

Rare depth and thoroughness…and an intelligent openness to the possibility of vision.”      —Henry Taylor, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet

 

 

 

 

 

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An Earth Day Question: Is It Possible to Walk in Beauty?

Earth Day was set as a time for human beings to reflect on their relationship to the natural world.  In my fifth Booker Series novel (as yet unpublished)  the character Booker summarizes what he has learned about the Earth Mother from Joseph, the Pueblo Indian Wisdom Keeper.  From Psalm Maker: The Journal of Booker Jones, herein is shared the lesson.

          If you take from Mother Earth, you need more than permission.  If you honor the relationship, you need to give back an offering.  There has got to be mutual consent and mutual exchange.  The act of honor must be central to awareness.  A potter takes clay and leaves something of value behind.  A painter takes pigments and leaves an offering.  A sculptor selects stone and removes it to his workplace, but he must leave behind something to fill the void.  He must balance one gift with another.  What will he put in place to honor the stone or the tree that he seeks to sculpt?  Will he sacrifice blue corn or his favorite shirt or blanket?  What will he give to be an honorable human being?

          How do we live with respect for all life so that all is safe and secure?  Who is responsible for the beauty of being?  Why must any people be made to beg for human rights?  When did respect fade from consciousness?  Power sacrifices respect to desire.  Respect is as gentle on the peoplescape as it is on the landscape.

         

          If everyone is aware, no one needs to shout.  Respect has a voice that speaks quietly.  When one culture, race, or religion dominates the Earth, respect for difference disappears, and within this loss is also the demise of humanity.

          What is indigenous should never be abrogated.  Do not remove dignity off the face of any people.  Dignity is the body language of respect.  A tree has dignity until it is chopped down.  A mountain has dignity until it is exploited.  A bear has dignity in its habitat.  A human being has dignity in the space of freedom.  Dignity is a right of natural law.  Where there is no dignity, nature itself has been violated.

         

Photo by Pat Joynes

     The man’s Indian brothers and sisters believe that the Earth is already in transition to another world, another great cycle of Earth habitation.  If the Earth is cleansed again, as the Hopi prophecies foretell, life will emerge into its fourth re-creation, the Fourth World.  For many people this bitter medicine is best taken with averted eyes and held breath.

         

          

         As Anglos, the writer’s people are perceived by the Indians as having no natural manners.  We have lost respect for our Earth Mother, and thus we cannot walk in beauty or in dignity.  All right behavior for Indians begins with honoring Creation in the metaphors of Father Sky and the Earth as Mother.

         

         There are Indian records that are sacred to Native Americans.  These documentary artifacts have been safeguarded and preserved for thousands of years, back to the dawn of consciousness.  These records say that human beings are star-born, that our origins are in a cluster of seven stars, the seven sisters. 

NASA Photo of the Pleiades

Eurocentric rational minds found this concept to be absurd, even contemptuous, so the Indians put their cosmic views back into the box.  In 21st century contemplation, the possibility does not seem so far fetched.  And yet, anthropologists and evolutionists continue to ignore the knowledge of indigenous, land-based peoples, pre-supposing their science to be superior to native superstitions.  The attitude allows them to walk in poverty among great treasures that they cannot see. 

        The Anglos ponder and speculate for their lifetimes on things that have been known to Indian medicine men for centuries. The Indians have waited patiently for the white men to ask serious questions, but Anglo pride has always prevented the humility required of wise men.  If a person comes in humility to an Indian holy man—a wisdom keeper—and demonstrates devotion to understanding, the knowledge of the ages will be shared.  This is the writer’s experience.  He, a white man, ignorant and without resources, defenseless in mind and purpose, came into the tribal circle and was given the great gifts of new sight and new hearing.

         

      

Photo by Pat Joynes

        To walk with awareness and insight in the natural world of Creation is the walk-in-beauty that Indians sing about.  Perhaps it was also the experience of Whitman and Emerson and the poets and psalm makers of history.  Certainly, no world teacher could be apart from the experience and still be able to demonstrate Truth.

          On this day, in this journal, this man wants to affirm that all people have the capacity to walk in beauty.  If a man like himself, born in pride and affluence, and trained to objectify Creation, can be re-created in one body over one lifetime, the same is possible for anyone.  The question, for this man, and for each individual, is whether or not we will surrender our sense of separate self in each and every moment of existence.

        In the kiva with Joseph, my Pueblo brother and mentor, there is no meeting of minds.  We do not connect through an association of ideas or concepts.  The practice is that we come together in the space of the quiet mind and enjoy communion on a level of awareness beyond the mind.  Vision is not dependent on magic.  Ritual and ceremony are only disciplines designed to disengage the mind so that true awareness is possible.  To meet in this holy place beyond the references of the conditioned mind is pure joy, pure satisfaction, pure love, pure release.  In this experience is sacred bonding and real relationship.  Peace is the original gift of Creation, and it is inherent within us all.

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We Are Water

After the first three novels in the Booker Series were published, I thought the series had run its course, and so I moved on to write another different kind of book.  Then, without provocation, I had a very lucid dream where I came upon Pueblo tribal friends from the Booker novels in full regalia doing ceremony on the edge of what seemed to be a dried-up lakebed.  I awoke with an intense desire to know what they were doing, and so I began to write titles to explain the scene.  I know that I wrote and rejected nearly fifty titles until the words Dead Water Rites fell into place.  My Indian family was conducting a funeral ceremony for a former living-water source!  That realization led me on research trips back to the Southwest and a year-long devotion to writing the novel.

Every Earth Day in April, my wife Pat and I are reminded of our American Indian inspired relationship to water as spoken by Joseph, Pueblo Indian Holy Man, in the novel Dead Water Rites (2000).  Let us share these words with you.

 “By spirit, we are inwardly connected and reciprocally related.  We are flowing into each other like water within a stream, our individual surfaces mere sense organs of the passage.  Knowing this, our joy in the moments of the flow should be boundless.  We are a rhythmical process in time and space; and because of the sensitivity of our boundary surfaces, we are Earth’s cosmic sense organ.

 

 We are water—formed into embryo out of water; first fed by liquids; nourished because water dissolves solids; existing because no chemical process can occur without water as the neutral, mediating and dissolving element.  Water absorbs energy and transports it.  It creates climate.  It balances.  It harmonizes.

 

 

Let us honor the virtues of our substance.  Man is baptized of water to receive its nature, to arise clean and pure as Creation intended.  Like water, man should be the great healer in striving for a living balance.  Like water, he should be a mediator between substances, a peacemaker in regard to hostility.  Like water, man should desire nothing for himself.  His function is to refresh, heal, strengthen, revive, and clarify.  Like water, man should be open to light, transparent in motivation, eyes to the visible world and ears to what is audible.  Like water, man should be in eternal circulation between Earth and the cosmos.

 

 

Now Brother and Sister, look at your fingertips, the means by which you touch the world.  Your fingerprint is the pattern of an individual vortex just as your voice has its unique patterns.  These are the vibrations of identity.  Our words are the flowing out of creative recognition.  The stream of meaning crosses the void between one realized life to another in an attempt at unity and cooperation.  Water and speech flow with equal purpose.  We must believe that, in the end, all life comes together in peace and harmony.”

 

 

 Three of the most important mentors in my life read Dead Water Rites and were kind enough to comment on it.

Dead Water Rites strikes like a lightning bolt at the heart of an issue critical to our survival.  Monty Joynes’s work is Spirit driven.” 

Red Leaf, Cherokee Choctaw Elder

 

 

 

 

 

 “As an Indian reader of Dead Water Rites, I am left with the feeling of having been well instructed not only to the potential catastrophe of a waterless West from the environmentalist point of view, but by one whose joint characters ‘Booker’ and ‘Anglo’ look with great insight into the real threat posed by thoughtless ‘progressives’ to the sacredness of water and life in general.” 

 Cherokee Elder Lloyd Kiva New

 

 

 

“What Monty Joynes has accomplished in Dead Water Rites, his fourth book in the remarkable Booker Series, is the rare joining of a page-turning story line, lively with action and memorable characters, together with a sustained poetic meditation on the power and glory of water in the world.  The spiritual vision, the outward and inner lives of the invincible Southwestern Indians, are beautifully summoned up and celebrated.   Dead Water Rites is a powerful story and a pure pleasure to read.”  George Garrett

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The Legendary Lloyd Kiva New

Lloyd Kiva New in later years. Photo credit unknown.

I came to know Lloyd Kiva New, the legendary artistic founder of the Institute of American Indian Arts, by way of an introduction to him by Edith Crutcher, his dear friend and associate on the Indian Arts and Crafts Board of the U.S. Department of the Interior.  Edie had read my Booker Series novels in the late-1990s and felt that I had the cultural sensitivity and ability to author Lloyd’s biography.

There had been promises to undertake a biography, but as Lloyd reached his mid-eighties and had serious health issues, Edie pressed for my willingness to commit to the project.  She knew my work habits and that I would complete the book if I started.  Despite Edie’s recommendation and my willingness, however, Lloyd would not agree even to speak to me on the phone until he had read my American Indian related novels, and that took the better part of a year.  Finally, we began to talk long distance from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Boone, North Carolina; and in October 1999 Lloyd invited me to visit him to discuss the project.

Lloyd’s wife Aysen advised me that our first interview could last no more than an hour because of her husband’s frailty, but our intense conversation lasted through an impromptu lunch and into the afternoon.  Our conclusion that day was that Lloyd was both unable and unwilling to go through the anticipated painful process of re-telling and documenting the cultural and political conflicts of his long career.  His endurance for work was down to less than three hours a day, and my presence as a biographer would have compromised the peace and comfort that he had attained under Aysen’s care.

That visit was made even more memorable by the introduction Lloyd gave me to master glass artist Tony Jojola that resulted in my being in Tony’s Taos hot shop for three days.  Then back in Santa Fe, I joined Lloyd and Aysen at the raising of the first structure on the new IAIA campus, a large log hogan.  There was a lunch served under a big-top tent, and then all of us who participated signed our names to a number of white plastic hardhats to commemorate the event.

When I returned to North Carolina, I wrote my impression of being with Lloyd in his Santa Fe home.  The piece became the second chapter in the novel that he inspired—Eagle Feathers In Glass.  The novel features characters based on Lloyd and other contemporary American Indian fine artists.  I sent the novel to Lloyd in manuscript, and I was told that it was the last book that he read before his death at 86 in February 2002.

I subsequently adapted Eagle Feathers In Glass into a classic opera libretto.  Sadly, no publisher has yet agreed to consider the novel, and composers who like the opera libretto need a $100,000 commission to begin to write the music!  Here, then, in tribute to Lloyd, is Chapter Two of Eagle Feathers In Glass. In the novel, the character based on Lloyd is named Vincent.

TWO

He was an old man who had outlived the riches he had generated in middle age but not the esteem of his students who had decorated his spacious adobe house in the hills above the galleries of Santa Fe with their valuable art.  The house was an artist’s abode with a high-ceiling great room with a cathedral wall of glass to beckon the transcendent light.  He now painted haunting faceless Taos women waiting for the return of Pueblo men away at the hunt for elk or fasting deep in the kiva chanting prayers for rain.  Even his large canvas of a single red tulip displaying its intimacy like a Georgia O’Keeffe seemed in its petals like shrouded sisters of the Taos women.  The white-haired elder had abandoned his fortune to save an endangered culture, had followed his Cherokee heart to become an Indian art educator, running a game trail that no warrior had run before him.   And now in the twilight of his life, knowing what he knew about the poverty and despair of continuing generations, he wondered if the path he had trod was marked well enough for other Indian artists to follow.

The venerable, controversial old man had endured the Depression and service in a world war to be the witness of Southwestern Indian artists who had gone from roadside souvenir stands to millionaire status by virtue of their talents.  He himself had defied all the odds that Oklahoma subsistence farming can claim on the last child in a string of ten.  That such a boy could discover his passion for visual arts, let alone acquire a formal university art education in an Indian-blind age, set him apart as an oddity.  That such a person could impose his vision of Indian art education on an unwilling federal bureaucracy is a historic triumph.

His mother had sensed that he was a different child from the older others.  At age five he had found pigments in the ground and mixed them with oil to make the colors adhere to crude bag paper.  At seven, his mother, so strong and beautiful that her face and form would have required an Allan Houser bronze, saved him from sacrifice on the farm and sent him to live with his married sister in a school-rich, oil-boom Tulsa.  He responded to the isolation among whites by prodding himself to academic excellence.  He graduated from high school at the top of his class.

But where was the energy in his hands to go?  What were the forms for feelings that hung between two languages like the spaces between drumbeats?  He could draw, merge colors, but how do you discover what you can do?  How do you find the truth of your spirit when no one expects you to accomplish anything?  How do you break the skin of the white world of expectations when you are dirt farm poor and an Indian?

Someone must spark the ether of creativity.  Someone must give confidence like candy given to a troubled child, honey into the mouth of self-doubt and fear.  Someone must first tell the artistic soul that it can breathe free, that it can emerge to create, and that what it produces has value.  Someone must say yes when the rest of the known world is saying no.

Before Native Americans had learned politics from the Europeans, a chief rose to his responsibility by the will of his community.  He never offered himself as worthy of any office but was rather given title by virtue of his spiritual qualities, intelligence and bravery.  English and Spanish kings might fight for the right of their sons to ascend the hereditary throne, but Indian chiefs are made, not born.

Vincent was an Indian chief not by virtue of a war bonnet or eagle-feathered buffalo robe but by the respect shown to him by many tribes.  He was a chief of many nations who walked with the aid of a cane ornamented by a long cylinder of colorful beadwork ending in a tassel.  The walking stick was as powerful a symbol as the silver-headed canes given to the Pueblo governors by a United States president as a sign of their authority.  Vincent’s authority could not be granted or confirmed because it rose from the hearts of grateful recipients of his love and trust, which was then returned to him as honor and respect.

Vincent had earned his place of honor as a warrior, but his combat had not been against the soldiers of a land-grabbing greedy government.  The land was gone, and his people were restricted to reservations and land allotments before he came of age.  He could not prevent the loss of the land that had been their home for thousands of years before the Europeans invented discovery, but he could fight to save the Indian soul of creativity that had sustained them over those millenniums.  He could fight to prevent the suffocation of young Indians by a frivolous culture that had no relevance to their ancient traditions.  He could do battle against the forces of disrespect that would erase the Indian spirit from the dominated continent.

His chosen battlefield was the Indian art school as a place of refuge and creative freedom.  On this field he had won many victories.  Out of this struggle had emerged many brave young people who had matured to become chiefs themselves, demonstrating, encouraging, mentoring yet another generation of brave hearts to express themselves as the first people, as Indians.

The reported status that he was, at 84, retired was a misstatement.  It was true that he held no academic chair, but he was far from being removed from the never-ending battle that his institutions and ideals were subjected to.  He was still a fountain to his people and a firebrand to those who displaced and disrespected them.  He could still write a letter that provoked bureaucratic reaction.  He still led where only the courageous would follow.

In his long life he had survived two wives and gone into his eighties alone in the sprawling adobe house overlooking Santa Fe.  And then he had fallen in love and became like a young man courting a maiden with a cedar flute and a newly composed song.  She was much younger—a cultured internationalist who sensed his inner beauty and strength—and willingly gave herself to him in love and devotion.  Her own strength and abilities seemed to magnify his, and he began to paint again in a revival of artistic energy.  His spiritual force, as well as his romantic heart, was a presence that the winds of time could not blow away.  He had stood against the wind and not only endured but also found happiness and loving comfort.  For all who knew him, his late marriage seemed like a just reward.

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