Great! Thanks.
And a great interview it was, and fun to edit too.


At 04:14 PM 9/16/05 -0600, Hunter Gray wrote:
>You've done a fine job, Bruce, and, having spent several hours going over
>and making various corrections and a few clarifications [not all that many,
>considering the considerable length of the interview], we have just sent it
>off to you via Priority Mail.  You should have it early this coming week.
>All best, H

This is a brief report on things with me -- and first, a roundup of
especially interesting things for friends and family-at-large:

Bruce Hartford, intrepid webmaster of the rich and complex Civil Rights
Movement Veterans http://www.crmvet.org/, came here in July and did a
substantial interview with me. His pleasant visit followed a fine get
together with Traveling Sam Friedman [still much missed very especially by
Cloudy Gray -- whose fur, bobcat ruff, and weight are all feathering out
nicely for the coming winter.  Most of you are aware that she is one-half
bobcat. ]

Among other of his contributions, Bruce was actively involved in the
Southern Movement, principally with SCLC; and was a founder of National
Writers Union, its webmaster, and  long-time Treasurer of the Union.  The
draft of that interview -- which focuses on the Southern Movement epoch but
carries a good deal of info on dimensions of my years before and since --
tallies up to 51 typed, single spaced pages.  In due course, it'll be
published on the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website.

I've given a number of oral histories and related interviews over the
years -- and this fine job joins other especially notable and well done
ones:  a somewhat longer one done with Jon Jones of Mississippi Department
of Archives and History in January 1981, another good-sized one done by
Betsy Nash of the John C Stennis Library of Mississippi State University at
the end of 1990, and a detailed one with a unique focus by Professor Roy
Wortman [a member of this BWB List], History, Kenyon College.  This is
called "I Consider Myself a Real Red:"  The Social Thought of American Civil
Rights Organizer John R. [Salter] Hunter Gray" which was published in the
Journal of Indigenous Thought [Saskatchewan Indian Federated College -- now
First Nations University], Regina, Winter 2001].

Summer ended abruptly in Idaho and cool -- sometimes almost cold -- weather
and some rain are much upon us.  [Snow is not far above us, elevation-wise.]
I welcome all of this.  Josie and Cameron have been doing some elk hunting
but their especially notable news involves a close-up sighting the other
late afternoon of a big male darkish mountain lion, with his female spouse
and a cub.  [In the Southwest, we call the rather rare dark lion, a "blue"
lion.]  Neither of the little families was upset by the presence of the
other; and the lions left with grace and deliberate speed.

I had hoped to possibly do a little very special bear hunting this Fall but
it doesn't seem to be in the cards.  Too many periods of acute fatigue. It
could be a problem even holding one of my heavy lever action rifles
[Browning/Winchester or Marlin]  for very long. Which brings me to the
inevitable mention of SLE Lupus:

My version of SLE is an especially negative one [but any Lupus, of course,
is plenty negative for everyone so afflicted.]  We [ourselves and the
medics] are all convinced that I was struck by a more moderate version of
SLE in the very early months of 1966.  At that point, fresh from the
Southern wars and a kind of visiting prof at Goddard College in Vermont, I
was barely into my '30s.  The obvious disease was mysterious but involved at
least five classic SLE symptoms.  In those days I avoided doctors and
carried out my teaching and related responsibilities with no letup -- but
for weeks I needed 12 hours of sleep per night.  Eventually it faded and I
then  made several lengthy trips including a week- long sojourn back in the

During the worst of this little medical experience, I was fortunate in
having [as always] a fine group of students.  Two especially were Mike Bayer
[an ardent member of the Communist Party USA] and Doug Ireland [an equally
ardent Socialist. Their competing brands of socialism greatly enlivened that
particular seminar, sometimes giving me a needed breathing spell!  In the
years that followed, there were some odd and quickly transitory episodes but
my basic immunity is [or at least has been] extremely strong.  It's probably
just as well that I held off going to docs for decades for, if SLE had been
diagnosed -- unlikely, probably, since that's a hard thing to quickly call
with precision -- I might have become bogged down in deleterious medicines
and such and would not have been able to make my rather intensive social
justice contributions [such as they are] which carried for decades
thereafter.  Anyway, at the end of that spring term, we returned to the
South and our home in a very supportive Black residential area in an
outlying section of Raleigh for more than another year of civil rights work.
And then, Far Beyond to many more things.

A quick roundup on my SLE front:  We have all but stopped the steroid
medicine, Prednisone, and the pseudo-diabetes which that produced
[necessitating insulin injections, more pills etc] has now apparently ended
and my weight [slowly but steadily] is returning to normal.  I am taking a
full dosage of Plaquenil, along with some other things.  Another thorough
eye exam showed full normalcy: no negative effects from the diabetes or
Plaquenil.  Periods of fatigue are still acute but I continue walking [with
Maria and sometimes Josie as well] -- but have to be careful. There are
occasional dizzy periods and loss of some balance. [I am trying to avoid
buying new Size 17 boots but may have to before long.]  Able to drive a
little further and more frequently.  Although a certain "dead end" feeling
is inevitable on occasion, I am tough-minded and can throw it off.  And
although my SLE attacked many internal organs, and could resume so at any
point, it spared my brain -- and my mind [I trust] is clear, lucid. [As I
have said before, write me off list if you seem to notice something unduly
amiss.] Stress can occasionally be a problem, not always.  Pain, never as
heavy as some folks encounter, waxes and wanes -- but I do have a high pain

And now and then, with increasing frequency, I can have a few moments in
which everything around me perception-wise seems extremely bright and
totally normal in my old-time sense.  These brief episodes of great and
positive clarity do give me hope for a substantive remission [usually very
rare indeed in these cases] and the continual achievement of my secret
long-term goal:  physical immortality in this present form of mine. [However
tempted, please don't write me off list on that one!]

In Solidarity, H

 Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'



I wrote this post initially a little more than a week ago, and posted it on
one list.  However, since then Idaho has been hit over several days by a
series of related earthquakes ranging from about 3.5 to 3.9.  The most
recent was yesterday.  This "cluster" is in Southern Idaho -- which we
are -- but well to the northeast of Boise and thus well to the west of us
[we are in the Pocatello region].  Meanwhile, in a section of Oregon near
Idaho, a large and alarming ground-bulge has suddenly developed.  As I
mention in my post, our own region of Eastern Idaho has high earthquake
potential.  And Yellowstone and some other openings to/from the nether world
are not far away from us at all.  H


It's raining here in Eastern Idaho -- has been off-and-on for several days
and some has been cloudburst heavy.  Up where we are, there is no flood
danger --  and not even the way the geography falls out, any flash flood
threats.  The big nearby river is the Snake whose flood potential can be
heavy, as it sometimes demonstrates, but it's west and north of Pocatello
[our base.]  Down in the valley below us passes the moderately sized
Portneuf River which goes through Pocatello.  It's been known to flood
briefly on occasion and directly threaten the homes close to its banks.  It
could cut us off from town.

 I should add that the Portneuf is named for Joseph Portneuf, sometimes
called a "French-Canadian" or a Métis -- but actually a St Francis Abenaki.
He was a very distant in-law family connection of ours -- via one of our key
families, the well known Annance family from the  St Francis reserve, P.Q.
More to my point now, Joseph Portneuf [viewed fondly by a few Anglo
historians], refused to join the historic May 24/25 1825 strike/withdrawal
of the Iroquois [with some Abenaki] fur hunters from the camp of HBC fur
entrepreneur, Peter Skene Ogden on the border of present day Southeastern
Idaho and Northeastern Utah.  That action was led by my g/g/g grandfather,
John Gray [Mohawk] and included another g/g/g grandfather of mine, Joseph
Annance [St Francis Abenaki].  Portneuf, who is not distantly enough related
to suit our family, was one of a tiny number of [again from a few Anglo
historians] "loyalists" who refused to join the strikers [seen by the Brits
as "deserters."]  This strike/withdrawal successfully boosted the payment
for beaver pelts, eliminated the viciously exploitive pricing system, and
ended the quasi-indentured servitude over the whole, entire wide region.
But Portneuf's role in what may well have been the first labor action of its
kind in the Intermountain West was that of a scab.

Initially, when discussions began recently about the Gulf Tragedy, I made
this post:

From Hunter Bear:  8/31/05

"At least a big part of the problem is the arrogance of urban/industrial
society and culture which assume across class lines that Nature can be
"conquered" and "suppressed" and forever repressed.  The concept of
adjusting to Nature is alien to the urban Euro-American perspective.  When a
massive forest fire, decades ago, threatened Flagstaff, Arizona, people
turned out en masse -- across ethnic and social class lines -- and
successfully defended the town.  They [we] were prepared, not surprised.  A
few years later, elk hunters from Phoenix and Tucson failed to heed
continual weather warnings and at least 19 died in the snow-drenched yellow
pine forests. John [Beba] and I were in New Orleans together years ago and
both of us noted the unreality of the city's below-level relationship to the
Gulf. [I had been there earlier on various occasions and it had always
troubled me.]"

Those sentiments have been voiced many times, many places in the past great
many years.  When Alexander Ross, another HBC fur entrepreneur and an
adversary of John Gray and the Native fur hunters, once passed through the
Red River country in the 1840s or so at the time of a great flood, he noted
that the watery expanse of the Red was at one point forty miles across.
This and other observations didn't prevent the eventual urban development of
Grand Forks in a swamp of substance immediately adjoining the Red.  The
Métis fur hunters in that region, aware of mosquitoes and pestilence, tried
to avoid camping there -- even temporarily.  Tornadoes come close to the
Forks.  When we were there, summers and early fall were  always marked by
deep dark clouds and warning sirens.  But the tornadoes missed us
consistently, sometimes passing right over the town -- though accompanied by
winds reaching to 80 mph with heavy rain and big hail.  We all remember
hunkering down, waiting, hoping, and surviving.

And when really heavy disaster struck Grand Forks, it was, of course, the
massive and pervasively destructive flood of 1997.

Here in Idaho, I've had earthquakes on my mind.  I hadn't ever paid much
attention to earthquakes.  There are none [to my knowledge, anyway] in my
home area of Northern Arizona though there have been some in Western New
Mexico.  A long time ago in Iowa, I was jiggling my leg while seated at a
table which shook.  When I stopped jiggling, the table continued to shake.
It was a brief tremor from a relatively far off quake.  A few years ago
right here, we had significant earthquake reverberations from nearby Western
Wyoming -- but no damage.  A generation ago, however, Pocatello had a fairly
serious quake which destroyed homes and one school -- which was subsequently
rebuilt up here not far from us.  In the Mountain West, Idaho has the
highest proportion of earthquakes.  Charts via U.S. Geological Survey and
related agencies indicate strong earthquake potential in this very part of

And this is in an atmosphere of authoritative concerns about Yellowstone
[close to us by Western regional standards.]  Just south of us is Lava Hot
Springs, a pleasant recreational area, but also in all probability a "door
way" from the nether world.  Mt St Helens isn't that far away, either.

In the summer of 2004, although there had been no earthquakes reported in
Idaho for at least two or three months and, again, despite the fact that I
hadn't thought of those, my sudden emergent concerns led us a few weeks
later [and still there had been no fresh quakes], to take out special
earthquake insurance which we faithfully maintain.  Our State Farm agent
told us that most people locally weren't worried and only a few had such
coverage.  Soon after we got our "protection," quakes began again -- fairly
small [3.0 to 3.5] usually, several not far from here.  At Salt Lake, to the
south of us about 175 miles or so, authorities began the long process of
buffering the Utah State House foundations -- since a chronologically long
earthquake cycle in that area is now coming 'round again at this present
very time.

[Yesterday, there was a 3.1 well to the northeast of Boise -- but still in
Southern Idaho.]

In the meantime, in addition to the earthquake insurance, we are stockpiling
food -- a few cans of this-and-that when we go to the store.  Since we
import our drinking water -- Teton Basin -- 25 gallons at a time, we should
almost always have plenty of that on hand.

There is usually no warning about earthquakes -- reverberations and
after-shocks are predictable -- we could probably be caught fast.  It seems
likely to us that should a significant quake come, it would be most likely
below us -- but could crack our foundations and walls and cut us off from
town.  And in that case, obviously, our survival resources would prove quite
handy.  Our immediate neighbors -- and this is a cohesive inter-ethnic group
of good folks -- know how to prepare as well.  If necessary, our family
[including our animals et al] will try to make it up into the really high
country that begins immediately almost in our back yard.

Now, if an earthquake were to occur up there above our splendid home, that
could be a whole different -- short story.


We very much appreciate the good comments from Sam Friedman, David
McReynolds, and John Salter on earthquakes.  In the last analysis, about all
we can do is hope that no quakes hit up here, or down in Pocatello itself --
or anywhere as far as that goes.  My intuition, which wisely warned me of
flood danger and "told" me to get out of Grand Forks into its hinterland,
and which told me a year or so ago to get earthquake insurance here in Idaho
[again, we are one of the very few families in these parts who has bothered
to pay $150.00 per year for it], has served me very well, frankly, in a
great many situations indeed from childhood on.  We'll depend on that
primarily -- mixed occasionally with logic.

 I am not sure there is any reliable manual that can really cover, for
individuals and families, this kind of disaster.  If something drastic
happens, our very cohesive little family will, as I say, do our best  to
take our increasingly stockpiled food and water along with our animals,
guns, blankets, etc into the wilds that commence immediately above us -- and
which offer wild game, fresh water from snow and rain, and general primeval
hospitality.  From a relatively safe base, we would certainly try to work
with neighbors, especially in this particular setting, for the common good.
Stressing that I am not, beyond a certain point, an authority on geology, my
feeling is that our primary danger up here is from quake shocks that could
crack walls and foundations.

[Strategically, I should add, I do know a great deal about effectively
fighting wildfires --  something of a potential danger up here though not an
especially heavy one.]

The other day, I found myself wishing for a few pleasant Fall weeks -- free
for awhile at least from personal anxieties such as awaiting blood test
results and other sometimes chilling and jarring things.  And that desire
[for a little piece of tranquility that I cannot personally recall having
had since my mid-Teen years], is often a veiled warning in its own good
right that some sort of Crisis is around the bend in the trail.

But I think, in Life, a fighting chance [and maybe a little more!]  is the
best for which we can hope.

Yours, Hunter [Hunter Bear]

 Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
In the mountains of Eastern Idaho
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

Check out this significant honor: my 2005 Elder Recognition Award from
Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Story Tellers


Making History, Doing History: Big Bill, George Shoaf, and Those Who Came


Normally, George Shoaf would be only a minor mosquito footnote.  He died
decades ago and his apex was the 1907 Haywood murder trial at Boise.  But in
his massive, and otherwise excellent 1997 book on The Trial, writer Tony
Lucas in Big Trouble has an epilogue in which he takes the position that
Haywood et al. were guilty of financing the December 30 1905 murder of
former Idaho gov,  Frank Steuenberg, a sheepman.  The epilogue, which in
drawing this very questionable conclusion based almost completely on the
non-public utterances and letters of Shoaf [the one time Appeal to Reason's
reporter who covered the trial], was done well after Lucas finished the
basic manuscript.  And then, Anthony Lucas hanged himself -- for reasons
which apparently had nothing directly to do with his book.

I had read and heard enough on the Haywood trial etc before I encountered
George Shoaf to know he was dead wrong on that issue.  On the Anglo side of
my family -- my mother's side -- I had an active maternal grandfather who
had grown up in Dakota Territory on a large horse ranch, graduated in
engineering from North Dakota Agricultural College [now NDSU] and was a
mining engineer for the Bunker Hill and Sullivan Mining Company --
operationally based in the Coeur d'Alenes -- from the turn of the last
century onward for a number of years when things were still very turbulent.
[In fact, as a student he had worked summers in Idaho mining at the very end
of the 19th century.] He was an admirer of the genuinely great mining
engineer and also infamous capitalist, John Hays Hammond [organizer of the
Mine Owners' Protective Association in the early 1890s], and my grandfather
was even sent to Berkeley for a post grad year by Hammond's associates.  But
even that quite conservative grandfather, whose mind remained very sharp and
clear almost to the moment of his passing at 98, was not at all convinced of
the guilt of Haywood et al.  In fact, quite the contrary.

My maternal grandmother, daughter of a leading Kansas Populist, who was also
in the Coeur d'Alenes, had no doubt whatsoever of the innocence of the WFM

HUNTER BEAR:   A LITTLE SOCIALIST HISTORY [Slightly edited/expanded]

In a post the other day, published sans the name of my correspondent [a
grad  student] on a couple of lists, I discussed the Bill Haywood
trial -- and the enigmatic self-styled "war correspondent" for the Appeal to
Reason, George Shoaf who was at Boise in 1907 for the trial. While publicly
presuming as journalist the innocence of the three WFM defendants --
Haywood, Charles Moyer, George Pettibone -- Shoaf also, for some mysterious
reason, began a shadowy and defamatory campaign claiming Haywood et al. were
actually guilty.  He offered no evidence but maintained this bizarre
position through the rest of his life.  He did other things that were
personally aberrant and strange.  In early 1957, Shoaf was writing a short
historical column for the excellent American Socialist monthly magazine of
Bert Cochran -- for which I had just written a piece on the Navajo Indians.
I was also writing for the IWW newspaper, the Industrial Worker, whose
editor was my friend and mentor, Fred Thompson -- who, it soon turned out,
didn't think much of Shoaf.  All in all, Shoaf and I exchanged a half dozen
letters before the correspondence languished on my part. If you haven't
already, you may wish to look this website page of mine
http://www.hunterbear.org/haywoodtrial.htm . This is my long book
review/essay centered on the massive 1997 Big Trouble account by Anthony
Lucas --  for the Butte-based Montana Standard daily.  Anyway, here is a
followup letter I have made to the grad student who has asked several
further questions and offered comment:

FROM HUNTER BEAR:  [9/15/05]

Thanks much for your letter and thoughts.  I wish I had the correspondence
with Shoaf but it was gone long ago -- probably by the end of '57.  At 23,
the concept of saving and filing things for historical purposes was far from
my convinced-of-my-immortality mind.  It was also a time in which I was in
Tucson for school and labor work, and moving on to a few months of trapping
predatory animals in the rugged turf south and south/west of Flagstaff
[my home town] and getting groceries and receiving and sending mail at
the small cowtown of Cottonwood, and then eventually back to school, at ASU.
Not until the great copper strike of 1959 into early 1960, and the
dimension of Mine Mill defense work, did I save some things.

And then in '61, married, I had [and have] an orderly spouse [Eldri] who
began to earnestly save my things, starting in the dramatic Mississippi and
other Deep South years.  When the State Historical Society of Wisconsin
approached me after my Jackson Movement book was published -- one of their
key people was present at a large civil rights retrospective at which I
spoke in late 1979 at Jackson -- I did have a fair amount of stuff saved.  I
should add sardonically that the FBI finks copied -- photostatic
methodology, a little primitive by the standards of today but legible --
much of my published radical writing; and my long FOIA/PA campaign [the end
of '79 to '88 or so] "retrieved" those things.  But the Shoaf letters --
private and personal correspondence, of course -- were simply lost early on
along a trail characterized by much moving about and, for me, rapid and
tumultuous growth changes of a positive sort.

The Real West has always been rugged.

I've always liked to work with dynamite and -- no connection -- my last
heavy fist fight [essentially a draw] was when I was 26.  Bill Haywood was
certainly a product of the Mountain West -- even Salt Lake City featured, in
those days, a [justifiably] armed Brigham Young and the Mormon gunman,
Porter Rockwell [who so impressed Haywood, the child.]  I have always
believed that the comment made regarding Haywood by a Brit contemporary
that Haywood was "a bundle of primitive instincts" was obviously arrogant
and cruel.

I have always felt the Haywood legend to be a little bigger than the
reality -- no negative reflection on his very substantial multi-faceted
stature.  He was, however, less than 6' [I am six feet]; not especially
profane at all [according to his good friend, Ralph Chaplin]; could be
bureaucratic [according to historian Joe Conlin, with whom I had a fair
amount of correspondence]; careless with his key correspondence which he
often kept inside the brim of his Stetson [according to C.E. "Stumpy" Payne,
a founder of IWW and a key editor and writer and much more, who I knew
pretty well when I was hardly 21 and he was almost 90.]

 I have given all of this a fair amount of thought for this past day or so
[since getting your last letter].  I think the basis for my tagging Shoaf as
a "wannabe" involves this:  Haywood was indeed a great man [more so than his
two co-defendants] and I have a strong feeling that Shoaf was simply
jealous of that greatness.  Despite his capacity as correspondent for the
Appeal to Reason, certainly a critical role in the social justice war, he
may well have envied Haywood the Vital Legend.   Shoaf would have felt
"professionally" obliged to publicly presume the innocence of Haywood and
the others -- but could easily have sought to privately cut Haywood down,
knife him in the shadows, "reduce" him.  I have met a few unsavory types who
have done just that. [I am presuming that Shoaf did not see
murder-via-paid-assassin as noble.]  Since I have paid little attention to
Shoaf and since my involvement with him was limited to several long letters,
this would all have to be based on those letters.  I realize these
impressions -- then and now -- are not properly evidential in the scholarly
sense.  But I believe his letters and their tone -- read and sensed by me at
23 -- are the basis for my judgment of him as a jealous wannabe who was
willing to stab in the shadows.

As Ever, H




When a young William D. Haywood and his bride, Nevada Jane Minor,
honeymooned, they came right here to Pocatello, Idaho -- and had a great

Long before that, in the late 1810s onward for twenty years -- with a
followup visit in 1841 -- my great/great/great grandparents, fur hunters and
activists John [Ignace Hatchiorauquasha] and Mary Ann Gray, Mohawk Indians,
maintained the family winter camp less than a mile above and beyond our very
house right here.

In the latter 1950s especially, I traveled extensively through the rugged
mountain West.  A buddy and I came through Pocatello and this general region
and we liked what we saw. Later I soloed through here on AMTRAK several

Glad our family came here in 1997 -- and got this very special house right
on the 'way far up edge.

Our neighbors have been fine from the outset.  For a good while we
encountered general police harassment and interference with our mail and
various blatant examples of surveillance, but that finally passed when we
simply didn't leave and the city got a new police chief.  A few weeks ago,
the local silk-stocking "city beautiful" effort -- Valley Pride -- spurred
city inspectors into coming up here and giving several families "tickets"
for lushy lawns and some beautiful weeds. [We are hardly inside the city
limits and BLM public lands are a stone's toss from us.]  We were one of
those so targeted -- everyone up here was royally p_____ed, and it pretty
much blew over.  When, however, not coincidentally around the same time, the
police gave a ticket to one of Cameron and Josie's parked cars -- disabled
technologically, it wasn't quite properly parked -- and C and J were gone, I
was able to negotiate with the actually reasonable police department through
the tangled situation and get the $60.00 ticket killed.

Wildlife critters of many kinds -- big and small -- are extremely close to
us.  Lions have wandered into the edges of Pocatello and moose once showed
up practically in our yard. Coyotes howl, bobcats yowl.

The town and general region are about 70% LDS [Mormon].  It's a strong labor
town [e.g.,Union Pacific, Simplot phosphate mining and refining]

Grassroots citizens' groups have often been successful in fighting off
greedy "land developers."  One of these includes a good friend of Eldri's --
a feisty older lady who, until very recently, was state president of the
Idaho Horse Association.

And it still has its wild edge human-wise.  The daily newspaper this morning
had three front page headlines:

basketball players at Idaho State fighting it out]

PRESIDENT  [faculty and staff have been badly screwed on salaries while
administration fat cats have hogged a big piece of the monies]

SHOVING  [at Irving Middle School where kids and at least one 31 year old
adult got into a fracas]

I've always said, don't be fooled by some crew cut lawns and the wistful
press releases of Valley Pride.  Scratch Poky and, even now, you might find
Big Bill and Nevada Jane.

Nice to be here, H

 Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
In the mountains of Eastern Idaho
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'

Check out this significant honor: my 2005 Elder Recognition Award from
Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Story Tellers

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. [Hunter Bear]