Great trip: 3700 miles, 9 states, 11 days [social commentary]
hunterbadbear at earthlink.net
Sat May 10 10:16:42 MDT 2003
Note by Hunterbear: This is being sent out very widely.
We returned -- myself, Eldri, and the Jeep early yesterday [Thursday
morn] -- from a junket that carried us 3700 miles through nine states over
eleven days. [I did all the driving since Eldri does not do stick shift or
4WD.] The trip and my various speeches and workshops went very well indeed
and the Jeep used not one drop of oil.
>From the Shoshone waitress in the local cafe at rather drab Kemmerer,
Wyoming [pronounced Kemmer] -- just after we had traveled through snowy
Idaho mountains and bright blue lake country -- and who presented us with
the hugest western omelets we had ever seen [and consumed], to virtually
everyone else we encountered, all folks were genuinely friendly. I had on
my worn Levi jacket an ancient -- but incendiary -- Mine, Mill and Smelter
Workers patch with blood red trimmings and the Jeep's exterior featured
various contemporary identity proclamations [ e.g.,"Organize" and "UAW."]
I don't see, however cunning and militant the proponents of "wistful
fascism," any real likelihood that that can ever be imposed on a country as
diverse and large and essentially individualistic as that which we call the
United States. But, given the broadening and deepening economic
deprivation -- saw lots of that in Anglo and reservation and ghetto/barrio
quarters -- and the oft corollary dimensions of racism and other anti-people
isms -- compelling and critical work stands higher than the Rockies for all
of us many indeed who try to serve the human community rather than serve
My various social justice speeches went very well in all settings. I do not
use notes and my thoughts and formulations flowed smoothly and effectively.
I attacked the Bushies and much else as well. And, of course, I had solid
words for socialism. Attendance was good and questions were excellent. Two
of my workshops [one at Chicago on Indian concerns] saw me on my feet
steadily for going on four hours each time -- and my major humanist speech
[also at Chicago] went swiftly and appreciatively well into its second hour.
[I wore my Lowa Trekker Extra Size 15 boots which have now, in addition to
500 rough trail miles since mid-December, traveled in all sorts of new and
interesting places [e.g., ghettoes, barrios.]
My Chicago speech was extremely personal and complex. With the workshop on
Native concerns, it was under the aegis of the very fine Ethical Humanist
Society of Greater Chicago -- a component of the Ethical Culture Society
[American Ethical Union.] The first Ethical Society was founded in 1876 by
Felix Adler -- who came out of a Reform Judaism tradition -- in New York
City. He was quickly joined in his life-long endeavour by William
Mackintire Salter [whose basic homes were at Cambridge, Mass. and Silver
Lake, N.H.] who had been a Congregationalist minister and whose father, the
first William Salter, had been the pioneer Congregationalist circuit rider
in Iowa, a founder of the University of Iowa, and biographer of Governor
J.W. Grimes. William Mackintire Salter then played a key role in founding
the Ethical Society at Philadelphia and then, directly, the one at Chicago
under whose auspices I have just spoken.
William Mackintire Salter [brother-in-law of William James -- they each
married a Gibbens sister] was, in addition to his leadership of the Ethical
Movement, a major and courageous defender of the Haymarket anarchists over
that many years struggle; an activist in the almost all-White Indian Rights
Association; founder of Henry Booth Settlement House in Chicago [a sister
program to Hull House and the Chicago Commons Association]; a signer of the
Call to Organization of the NAACP in 1909; one of the early spark-plugs of
what became ACLU-- and author of several books on philosophy and related
matters, social justice, and a critical and enduring major classic on
Nietzsche. He died in 1930 and Mary Salter passed away a couple of years
later. Funds that she left Dad via a Boston trust company encouraged my
parents to conceive me and I appeared noisily in '34.
The adoption of my father, John Randall Salter -- a full-blooded Native
originally named Frank Gray -- was stormy and sometimes bitter. It was
tempered in a most positive way by the presence of Professor William James
who took a strong interest in Dad and his obvious ability as an artist.
W.J. died in 1910 and my father left the Salters, occasionally returning
over the years. He was fortunate that he was always aware of his specific
Native people [some of whom worked for the Salter and James families] and
his tribal affiliations. Dad, who had never finished grade school,
eventually took his B.A. from the Chicago Art Institute and later his M.A.
and M.F.A. from the University of Iowa. He was the first Indian hired on
the faculty of Arizona State College, Flagstaff -- which eventually became
Northern Arizona University. Consistently active in social justice
concerns, our family has always been deeply involved with the Navajo and
Laguna Indian nations -- and to some extent with the Hopi and Apache.
When I spoke on Humanism at Chicago, it was Founder's Day for the Ethical
Humanist Society of Greater Chicago -- and W.M. Salter was indeed its
founder. Our presence was very important to the Chicago membership -- but
our appearance was extremely so to myself and our family. As I indicated
several times in my presentation, our family's historic view of William
Salter was "uneven."
But, in time, for me that changed -- however slowly -- onto the side of the
In my speech at Chicago -- a packed house with a number of non-Society
members present, I spoke of the enduring influence on our family of my
ggg/grandfather, John Gray [Ignace Hatchiorauquasha], fiery and committed
leader of the Mohawk fur hunters in the Columbia and Snake River country in
their disputes with the Anglo fur bosses. I spoke, too, of a maternal great
grandfather, Michael Senn -- Swiss immigrant to Kansas Territory in the
early 1850s, Abolitionist, Civil War veteran, founder of the Knights of
Labor in Kansas, major leader of the Populist Party and a Populist state
senator, denouncer of atrocities against the Indian people, cousin of Chris
Hoffman ["Millionaire Socialist of Kansas" who died of a heart attack while
addressing an IWW rally at Kansas City.] Michael Senn became a Socialist
But now, for the first time publicly, I also spoke of the very positive
influence of William Mackintire Salter for our family: his great commitment
to the Haymarket victims and their families, his opposition to American
imperialism, his many endeavours on behalf of Indian and Black people, his
staunch support for civil liberties which never wavered in the several
nefarious periods of spontaneous and concocted fear and hysteria through
which he lived and worked.
For my interracial parents and myself and my two younger brothers, in a
small and isolated town in Northern Arizona, the many Salter books in our
family library -- and those by William James, his father [Henry], and his
brother [Henry] which were initially given to the Salters -- were, I have
come to realize, far far more important and enduring than I had once
grasped. Salter's great courage and commitment played a key role -- along
with our other activist forebears -- in stimulating my parent's social
justice endeavours in Flagstaff [a town with considerable racial segregation
including "No Indians or Dogs Allowed" signs on many restaurant doors].
And all of it helped much to shape me and my brothers and that which we've
endeavoured to do.
I concluded the formal piece of my Humanist talk by analogizing three rivers
coming down from our high Idaho country immediately above our house: John
Gray, Michael Senn, and William M. Salter -- all of which flow together
congenially and effectively.
In the end, however oft-turbulent Dad's adoption, he got the best of both
worlds -- Native and Anglo social activist -- and my parents passed all of
that along to me.
And the Ethical Humanist Society of Greater Chicago sees us as Family
Members -- and for us it's certainly mutual.
So it was a great trip: planned speeches, ad hoc things. Food was truly
sumptuous -- and there were gifts: an unused copy of Darkness at Noon --
rescued from a Salvation Army base; a fine top-line Ruger Single [action]
Six .22 Magnum revolver with excellent holster; various socialist magazines;
and much more. For our part, we brought copies of my book -- Jackson,
Mississippi -- and some other things as gifts and Eldri took birthday and
First Communion presents to various grandchildren.
On the way back, I drove 21 hours straight -- climaxing in a midnight-era
short-cut junket through 150 miles of torturous and narrow and lonely roads
in the Montana and Idaho mountains. Eventually we reached the Upper Snake
River country where Idaho snow plows were very reasonably being activated.
Then, after successfully navigating all sorts of circuitous roads and road
maps -- to say nothing of Chicago! -- we became lost in Idaho Falls
[population 70,000 at the very most] for about twenty minutes. But I saw,
reaching to the dark and cloudy skies, the impressive Mormon temple which
guided me into the central area where my aboriginal intuition kicked in and
we were soon on our way along the 50 miles to Pocatello where snow and very
happy home creatures of various kinds greeted us.
As Ever -
Hunter Gray [Hunterbear]
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunterbear]
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