Hunter Gray / Hunter Bear - Organizer

[Mi'kmaq/St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk]

AT OUR FAR UP HOME IN EASTERN IDAHO

                                                             CONTEMPORARY PHOTO BY THOMAS GRAY SALTER

 

 

POLYGAMY FIRES [CONTEMPORARY AND WITH MUCH COMMENT]  HUNTER GRAY  SEPTEMBER 3  2006 -- ALSO LETTER TO SENATOR HARRY REID [NEVADA]  -- WITH COMMENTS AND MUCH 2008 UPDATE ON TEXAS

 
 

See also, http://www.hunterbear.org/IDAHO%20and%20the%20wild%20west.htm

 

"I [and perhaps others] see a very clear parallel between the Texas allegations and behavior and the allegations and behavior of the Bushies.  Both frenetically tout a "clear and present danger" and both use that to justify the abridgement of civil liberty via Constitutional bypass [es].  And, to me at least, that curtailment and destruction of American civil liberties is a truly horrific development."  [Hunter Gray, in a discussion.]
 

THIS IS A PAGE ON SOME ASPECTS OF POLYGAMY IN THE AMERICAN WEST  -- AND IT ALSO FEATURES MANY PIECES AND SOME COMMENT ON THE CONTEMPORARY SITUATION IN TEXAS.  I HAVE CONSISTENTLY HELD, THROUGHOUT MY LIFE, A STAUNCH POSITION SUPPORTING CIVIL LIBERTY AND DUE PROCESS.  I AM NOT INCLINED TO TAKE THE OPINIONS OF LAWMEN AND MAINLINE MEDIA AT FACE VALUE.  AND WITH REGARD TO THE POLYGAMIST COMMUNITIES, I DO HAVE SOME UP-CLOSE AWARENESS SINCE I AM VERY MUCH FROM RURAL NORTHERN ARIZONA. [I AM, MYSELF, A ROMAN CATHOLIC.]

THIS STRONG CIVIL LIBERTARIAN POSITION OF MINE HAS LED TO SOME SHRILL CRITICISMS, ESPECIALLY IN THE CONTEXT OF SEVERAL DISCUSSION LISTS.  SCROLL DOWN  FOR MY RESPONSE TO THOSE [APRIL 17 2008]  HUNTER GRAY /  HUNTER BEAR

 

HARRY AND THE POLYGAMIST DRAGON [HUNTER BEAR   7/25/08]

 
[Headline in Deseret News  7/24/08:  Reid calls polygamous communities a form of 'organized crime' ]
 
Harry Reid is a convert to the LDS faith.  The convert thing doesn't diminish his commitment to the faith but it does raise the question about how cognizant he is of the long sweep of Mormon history, its traditions and issues, and its socio-religious schisms.
 

But a more basic point, as I've alluded earlier, is the fact that this is a guy who [with many other Demos] has been unwilling and unable to effectively confront the Bushies at any meaningful point.  Basically, he is indeed a Wimp -- who is going after what he sees as vulnerable targets. [One can speculate on whose interests he's serving with this little witch-hunt.]

 
People can argue about the pros-and-cons of plural marriage [and we do have a First Amendment], but to claim that the polygamists are a form of "organized crime" is a crude and brazen calumny.  It's reminiscent of Arizona Governor Howard Pyle's self-serving rational for raiding Short Creek more than a half century ago [when the Red Scare was in vogue.]  He charged the polygamists were plotting "insurrection" and perpetrators of  a "foul conspiracy."
 
Harry Reid ain't no Harry Potter.
 
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

 

A SIGNAL VICTORY FOR US ALL  [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR  MAY 23 2008] THIS HAS BEEN WIDELY CIRCULATED AND PUBLISHED BY MY TOWN AND BY THE MASS CIRCULATION PORTSIDE.

And, May 29 2008, the Texas Appellate decision was upheld via a  6 - 3 vote by the Texas Supreme Court.

A SOCIAL JUSTICE ORGANIZER'S THOUGHTS ON LEGAL DEFENSE AND COMMUNITY EDUCATION [HUNTER GRAY  APRIL 21 2008]

 
The nature of the respective Movement involved has to be broadly explained in authoritative fashion -- in addition to dealing with the respective alleged offense[s].
 
In his splendid and successful defense of William D. Haywood and two other leaders of the Western Federation of Miners, Clarence Darrow and his associates did each dimension well in the Boise trials [1907] and, while there were many partisans of labor in this country and abroad even at that point, much anti-labor sentiment was being relentlessly flamed and fanned in Idaho. Bill Haywood et al. were, of course, falsely charged with arranging the dynamite murder of a former governor who was popular in many quarters. Haywood and his associates were all freed by Idaho juries.

In our successful Native American Church case in North Dakota in the mid-'80s, we had to bring in expert witnesses who, along with other testimony on behalf of the defendants from other witnesses, could explain -- broadly and lucidly -- the origins, development , and contemporary nature of the Church. That dimension was obviously directly central to the case. But few in the general public knew anything about NAC. There, we all did much community education on the matter long before the trial actually began.  [This case is discussed much further down on this page.]

For understandable reasons, the polygamist communities are withdrawn and secretive. They've usually been burned by any media contact they've had. Again, the nature and character of their Movement needs to be known -- to the Four Directions. I noted very early on the morning of April 20th that, on a re-run of an obviously very recent Larry King program, he spent 45 minutes discussing, with the church mothers, their powerful wish to regain their children. They were all sitting together in one of their community buildings -- and there was also a substantial tour of children's rooms, the kitchen, etc in more detail than I've yet seen via any media. Even Larry King was obviously empathetic, to a point.

That's a start. And the media generally are finally beginning to present the cruel realities of this Texas tragedy in something of an objective fashion.  But there has to be much more. The polygamists, obviously, are facing an oppressive wall of ignorance -- frequently bigoted in nature.

Hunter Gray / Hunter Bear  [John R. Salter, Jr.]
 

JOHN SALTER, oldest son of Hunter Gray, has written to a number of people of good will:

 
Recent posts on the Texas situation have left me wondering how committed some of you are to the struggle against oppression by the majority. More to the point, I'm discouraged by the selective nature of your outrage. Some of you continue to ignore the grave precedent being set by a runaway state government, while we've seen that when a few people get arrested for protesting the war you shake your fists and scream for justice.
 

The silence of those we'd expect to speak out is troubling. Hunter has mentioned his substantial involvement in the Warner Native American Church case in the 1980s. Hunter has never taken peyote or been a member of the NAC, but this was an important civil liberties matter for everyone, not only for us Indians. Back then you had University of North Dakota faculty whispering in the hallways about how supportive they were, yet these same people were nowhere to be seen (or heard) when the case went to trial. The federal courtroom was packed with out-of-towners, out-of-staters, yet Hunter and  his students  (and often his children) were usually the only local spectators. Hunter was the only local voice out on the steps, so to speak. That takes courage. I'm amazed that some of you, so brave when it comes to other issues, so ardent in your defense of obscure political theories, are so wary of speaking out now. See http://hunterbear.org/alcohol_and_peyote_and_native_am.htm


Now we have not only silence, but people on other lists attacking Hunter in most juvenile, ad hominem manner imaginable. These shrill, catty voices would be better suited to the Jerry Springer show than a thoughtful forum for the exchange of ideas. Let's see some substance, please, and not ridicule of a name.

What's happening in Texas--door to door searches, confiscation of children, mandatory DNA tests, internment camps, armored vehicles--is really a microcosm of what our worst fears should be in America. To shrug this off as "cult" activity or "Mormon craziness" is to display a frightening myopia.

 
J.S.

AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION STATEMENT ON TEXAS RAIDS

ACLU Statement On The Government's Actions Regarding The Yearning For Zion Ranch In Eldorado, Texas (5/2/2008)

On April 3, 2008, Texas law enforcement officials obtained a search warrant related to the suspected sexual assault of a child and then conducted a raid on the Yearning For Zion (YFZ) Ranch near Eldorado, Texas. The search warrant was reportedly based upon a telephone call placed by a female who identified herself as a 16-year old resident at YFZ who was the mother of one child, pregnant with a second child, and who claimed she was being physically abused by her husband. The YFZ Ranch, which is more than 1000 acres in size, apparently housed more than 700 people (men, women, and children) who are associated with the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (FLDS), whose practices include forming families with more than one wife. Although the original search warrant identified only one case of suspected sexual assault, law enforcement officials have now taken into custody all of the approximately 462 children formerly residing at YFZ. The available evidence now suggests that the original call that served as the basis of the warrant was probably made by someone who had never resided at YFZ and that the accused “husband” was at the time residing in Arizona (and may never have lived at YFZ). Since that time, the media, including internet blogs and listservs, have been filled with reports about YFZ and the FLDS that describe forced marriages, marriages involving underage girls, forced sex with children, and other abuses. There also have been reports of young children suffering trauma caused by the forced separation from their parents.

 

Although all of the facts are not yet known, the governing principles are well-established:

  • First, children have a right not to be abused (sexually or otherwise) nor forced into marriages by their parents or by any other person.
  • Second, parents have a constitutionally protected right to the free exercise of religion and to raise their children in their own faith.
  • Third, children and parents have the right to be together unless it is determined, applying the proper legal standards adopted by the state and consistent with the United States Constitution, that temporary or permanent removal is necessary. Children may not be separated from their parents based solely on the state’s disagreement with a group’s thoughts or beliefs, religious or otherwise.
  • Fourth, all persons, including children, have the fundamental right to due process of law. Due process rights for both potential victims and parents accused of neglect or abuse must be respected, and the law must afford each family notice of and the opportunity to contest allegations related to custody in a timely manner.

Based upon news reports and other available information, the ACLU has serious concerns that the state’s actions so far have not adequately protected the fundamental rights at stake. Specifically, the ACLU is concerned that:

  1. The initial raid at YFZ was prompted by a single allegation of abuse now reported most likely to have been made by someone who never resided at YFZ. Law enforcement officials have since removed every child who was living at the ranch, regardless of age or sex, and the state has justified that decision, in part, by explaining that all children at the ranch were at risk because they were exposed to FLDS beliefs regarding underage marriage. Religion is never an excuse for abuse. But, exposure to a religion’s beliefs, however unorthodox, is not itself abuse and may not constitutionally be labeled abuse.
  2. Parents have been separated from their children without individual, adversarial hearings and without particularized evidence that they ever engaged in abuse or were likely to engage in abuse. Children from YFZ have since been dispersed around the state, compounding the harm of forced separation of children – particularly infants – and their parents.
  3. Court-ordered DNA testing has been ordered for all children without having any specific evidence that the parentage of all children was actually in dispute. Parents have been pressured to consent to DNA testing if they wish to be reunited with their children who were forcibly separated from them.
  4. State officials have an important obligation to protect children against abuse. However, such actions should not be indiscriminately targeted against a group as a whole – particularly when the group is perceived as being different or unusual. Actions should be based on concrete evidence of harm and not based upon prejudice against religious or other communities.

Under these circumstances, it is essential for Texas officials to provide fair judicial proceedings that respect the constitutional rights of all involved – children, parents, and religious communities – while ensuring at the same time that children are protected against abuse where there is credible evidence of such abuse.

The ACLU will continue to monitor the unfolding events and will work to ensure that Texas officials act in a manner that is consistent with the important principles set forth above, including making our views known to the Texas courts at appropriate points in the judicial proceedings.
 

 

PERSONAL REFLECTIONS ON BAD DAYS -- AND GOOD  [HUNTER GRAY]  APRIL 17 2008

There was something about yesterday that carried the ring of the title of the old Western social justice film [with the admirable Spencer Tracy as crusader], Bad Day at Black Rock. There have been a number of these Bad Days lately.

For me, yesterday began with an e-mailed message from our youngest son, Peter [Mack] -- a top editor with the Lincoln Journal Star and with its parent Lee Enterprises as well -- indicating that a mutual friend and journalist, Dorreen Yellow Bird [Mandan/Hidatsa/Arikara] of North Dakota was very seriously ill and facing a long and difficult recovery. We know her and she knows us, members of her family have been students of mine. I immediately sent her an encouraging and supportive communication which, among other things, reminded her that, "You are extremely well attuned to the great world of grasslands, buttes, rivers, flowers, wild-life -- and the sky and the wind. And you are a fine writer. And you are flint tough in all positive ways".

She wrote back appreciatively and immediately -- and with empathy: "I have heard of it [Systemic Lupus] and I hope you too can out run it."

I like that. Dorreen and I have, on a very few occasions, disagreed. But we've always remained good friends. A very old friend of ours -- of many decades -- Susan Kelly Power of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation, and daughter of one of one of its most notable tribal chairpersons, Josephine Kelly of legend and yore, occasionally remarked as she noted various human events, that "The white people, when they fight, always seem to try to destroy. I don't think we Indians are cut-throat." And she's quite right.

Anyway, yesterday progressed -- if one can aptly use that term. The Supreme Court carried us back another step toward barbarism [a word I don't use lightly] with its basic reaffirmation of the death penalty. The "Iraq War" and its kin continued their obvious resurgence while what passes for our president genuflected, figuratively and hypocritically, in front of the Pope, with whom my disagreements as a Catholic are several, but who has staunchly opposed the death penalty and war. Texas, now caught in a huge legal and procedural briar patch, moves closer to its Inheritance of the Wind in the context of profoundly disrupted families and its precipitous en masse seizure of children.

If there was a bright spot yesterday, it was that Barack Obama handled himself, not surprisingly, very well in his latest with Hillary Clinton. We are quite sure he'll make it to the top of the mountain.

I "own" [the official term, but a presumptuous one] four e-mail discussion lists. Three of those I and friends initiated. Essentially these are congenial. The fourth, an avowedly Left group, is not un-congenial [usually] but can be challenging. I inherited that one from a younger friend. One of the many members of that group became very briefly enmeshed in the ugly "discussion" on the SNCC list of last weekend and, last night, passed on a communication he'd received from a woman who, obviously a critic of mine, and apparently not all that committed to civil liberty, told him in part:

"I read nothing by Hunter Gray Bear Red Rover or whatever his other "names" are. He has become such a fanatical right wing sick soul that who would bother. The only reason I read his stupid analysis of what happened in texas when hundreds of women, girls and children were finally rescued from daily rapings, sexual abuse, mind washing, and being forced to have children at ages as early as 12, is that I wanted to get a response from the SNCC list serv folks as to his positions. After all, many young people and others doing research on the civil rights movement should know that people in SNCC would never support such the imprisonment of women, girls, children, and probably some men in a terrorist situation where females of any age are subjected to rape and sexual torture, and god knows what other kinds of physical and psychological abuse.

Clearly, you do not know John Salter or who he has, most unfortunately, become. But he is one sick puppy who should be barred from this list serv."

Our list member, Brother _____ was not at all impressed with her missive. Nor, of course, am I.

And, as per the apt observations of Susan Kelly Power, I have never tried to destroy people with whom I disagreed. In the heat of the now long gone Sovereignty Commission case, I could certainly be critical of a few protagonistic individuals -- but in consistently very measured terms. Since the ending of that bitter odyssey, I have said virtually nothing about it. Our huge Hunterbear website, now into its ninth year, is not designed nor set up for personal diatribe. Its long page on the Sovereignty Commission [the only page we have on that amidst our hundreds of social justice pages] mentions only a few individuals by name, and those matter-of-factly -- certainly not in pejorative fashion. [Click and See, if you haven't already: http://www.hunterbear.org/tangledsovcomcase.htm

Of course I am, and have been since childhood, a strong advocate of gun rights -- and the Second Amendment. And I never make any secret of the fact that I've been a member of the National Rifle Association since my mid-teen years and a Life Member of NRA for most of my adult life. [So is Howard Dean, to drop the name of one of the four million who belong to NRA.] Perhaps that bothers some ostensibly liberal folk.

And I also belong to several organizations of the democratic Left which, like myself, are perennially optimistic -- despite the vicissitudes of the Bad Days. As the also attacked by one or two in the recent SNCC list discussion. Leslie Dunbar -- late of the Southern Regional Council and the Field Foundation and other good causes -- once said, "You'll always have a Wobbly heart, John" -- a reference to my mentoring by old time members of the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World] when I was a barely 21 year old embarking on the Save the World Business. http://hunterbear.org/wobbly_mentor.htm

And, like the good Dorreen Yellow Bird, who draws great sustenance from her native Badlands and rivers, buttes and wildlife, so do I draw much from the mountains of the Intermountain West, its rivers, its great array of wild-life. -- and from the turquoise sky, the glowing sun and moon, the winds.

Looking right now out my window to the snow-covered mountains just to the east, I note that the sun is bringing us close to Dawn.

I think this will be a good day to Live.

In Solidarity,

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------

NOTES BY HUNTER GRAY: [APRIL 19 2008]
 
Slowly and at whatever glacial pace, mainline American news media are now beginning to more objectively investigate and report the background, development, and some of the profound ramifications of the Texas assault against the FLDS church and its men and women and children. [Depending on the breadth and accuracy of the media, I will most likely be posting with less frequency.]
 
Colorado Springs police and Texas Rangers have been interviewing a young woman arrested in the Colorado town for making local false  telephone calls.  She has a history of making such false calls.  Her bond has apparently been set at $20,000 -- very high for a misdemeanor, which indicates the Texas matter is their prime concern.  It now seems very clear that the telephone calls that instigated the Texas assault were a cruel and fraudulent hoax.
 
The Texas district judge who signed the warrant authorizing the raids and seizures signed a document based on anonymous and fraudulent information which she obviously took at face value. She authorized precipitious and sweeping action.  Now, after two days of legal proceedings at San Angelo, in which as many as 300 lawyers have been involved,  the judge is retaining state custody of over 400 children and planning DNA testing.
 
Texas has a strict and relatively narrow requirement for warrants. The Lone Star State now has some very serious legal problems.  It's one of the states that requires a warrant to be tightly constructed with little or no room for subsequent flexibility. 
 
That, plus the longer range religious freedom issue, will very likely help the church people very much indeed. 

And, for the church and the families and children, there is always, of course, the right of appeal.                 

It is clear that, unless Texas retreats from its tangled Briar Patch -- hell, morass --, the legal fight, on several fronts, will go on for a long time.
 

CNN, extremely slanted against the polygamists, reported its so far Quick Poll results early on the morning of April 18.  55% of respondents felt the state should keep custody of the children -- but 45% felt that the kids should be returned to their families.  That, given the very obvious media bias, is a high percentage -- and that's even before some of these latest revelations [i.e., the young woman in Colorado.] 
 
And, as I mentioned the other day, Jonathan Turley, a top Constitutional lawyer. George Washington University [and something of an authority on the general polygamist situation], commented a few days ago that "Parental rights are deeply embedded in the Constitution."  This was said on ABC [which is now reporting the young woman at Colorado Springs.] Professor Turley frequently appears as a legal resource person on Keith Olberman's MSNBC program.  I assume that one of  the Constitutional dimensions to which he refers is the due process component of the 14th Amendment.
 
Well, as I say, Texas "inherits the wind."
 
Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear

__________________________________________________________________

IT'S A BIG CREATION [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR]  APRIL 19  2008

A few quick thoughts to your quite good question, Edward.

The "easiest" response would be to simply say that we don't know the facts. All we are hearing are flamboyant "charges" from the Texas version of Child Protective Services. These are the same folks who gave the media and the country the lurid hype from their "affidavit" based on fraudulent and malicious and anonymous telephone calls. One could also say that, if something of concern were felt by Texas authorities, they could have gone in a quiet and conventional fashion to the church community. Instead, they went as an army assault force.

So, at this point, the immediate focus for many of us so concerned, lies in the realm of civil liberty and due process.

But I feel obligated to go further. I argue that the polygamist communities with their churches and land -- there are a number in the Southwest and the Intermountain West -- have to be seen [and I've used this term before] -- as quasi-tribal. They've been in existence in various community group contexts since the 1890s and their traditions also, of course, go even further back into the old Mormon epoch. They're insular and communalistic and, while they interact selectively with the "outside world," they are cautious about taking things, tangible and non-tangible, from the so-termed mainstream. While some polygamists are in relatively large urban areas [Big Love isn't too far off the mark], their roots and loyalties lie in their back-home base communities in rural settings.

But to come to the point, they have something much more than simply a sub-cultural variant of mainstream American culture -- they have by now their own culture, their own quite distinctive way of life.

And, again as I've remarked before, as Old Entities [and culturally distinctive ones at that], they also have by now their own accrued sovereignty and self-determination rights. They have their own social controls. Mainline American "missionary" ethnocentrism [cultural prejudice and discrimination] appears to see "rape" in what, by the cultural yardsticks of the polygamist groups, is normal and expected behavior. The term "incest" is being tossed about by their critics; that's a universal taboo and I much doubt there's any of that anywhere in the world of polygamy -- globally. I doubt as well that there are many, if any of the alleged "child marriages" -- if you use the low minimum marital age of say, Arizona and Utah -- and even Texas until very recently.

And it's also becoming quite clear that the Texas bigots are simply out to smash the Polygamist Faith. And, very likely, to try to seize their very substantial land holding with full water rights.

After all, polygamy is widely practiced around the planet as perfectly conventional practice. [There is quite a bit of functional -- not cultural -- unbridled polygamy in "respectable" mainstream America.]

I think we should leave the polygamists alone, not just as a matter of "tolerance" but bona fide respect as well -- respect for a hardy people who have struggled in hard-scrabble country to survive with their faith; and who are doing so against some of the most vicious forms of contemporary prejudice and discrimination ever exhibited by "Free America."

And the polygamists will survive. They always have. And they always will.

We have two pages on this in our massive Lair of Hunterbear website. One is the newer Polygamy Fires, presently much being visited. http://hunterbear.org/POLYGAMY%20FIRES.htm

The other is Idaho and the Wild West, a compendium of things which include Mormonism and the polygamist breakaways.
http://www.hunterbear.org/IDAHO%20and%20the%20wild%20west.htm

And from the latter, I have this from just one of my own up-close encounters with The Polygamists:

Once, at Camp Townsend, ca.1951], an early day type trailer park and grocery store not
far out of Flagstaff on northbound Highway 89 [to Utah], I was visiting with
an old family friend, venerable Andrew Jackson Townsend, the proprietor, in
his adjoining gun shop. [An old cowboy, he had learned to drink literally
boiling coffee during brief round-up breaks and, in his very advanced years,
still did.] Suddenly, a caravan of vehicles -- many of them old-time
vehicles -- appeared from the north and swung into the Camp. Jack stepped
out and walked over. I followed. The leaders, dressed in old dark suits
rather than Levis, and wearing Stetsons, walked to us. We all -- including me -- shook hands formally. Jack Townsend asked no questions, simply explained
the organization of his Camp, welcomed them. But, by now, he and I both
noted a revealing dimension. In the people of the caravan, men and women
and kids, now out and walking about, there were many more women than men.
Jack and I returned to his gun shop but, later when I left, I saw a Caravan
kid my age, and walked over and visited with him. He was quiet, shy. But,
saying nothing about polygamy, he volunteered that they were going to
Mexico, "to set up and live down there for good." His face glowed as he
said this. I wished him well -- and I still do. . . .

For my part, live and let live. It's a Big Creation and it's got all sorts
of wondrous things in it. I'm like Andrew Jackson Townsend -- and the old
Indians. I don't ask questions. As long as the arrangements follow the
basic organization and teachings of the old utopian Mormons, I'm on their
side. As I told the kid my age at Camp Townsend so long ago -- he who was
off and far beyond to Mexico and who had a vision in his eyes -- "I wish you
luck."

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'

 

 

PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR MUCH ON WESTERN POLYGAMY -- INCLUDING LOTS ON THE TEXAS SITUATION

 

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: [2006]

 
Sandy Lane, the very short street 'way up on the far western edge of Pocatello,  does sound, I suppose, a little idyllic to our friends in far away places, but it isn't that in any conventionally precious sense.  Only a stone's toss from the increasingly wild lands -- managed by Bureau of Land Management and the Caribou National Forest,-- and populated by a very nice and relatively inter-ethnic gathering of friendly neighbors [mostly Mormon, some Catholics, a Unitarian family, and an avowed Free Thinker] and visited with frequency by coyotes and an occasional mountain lion, it does suit us just fine.  The weather is now obliging and several nights of below freezing temps have substantially lessened the very real danger down in the Snake and Portneuf river valleys of mosquito-borne West Nile virus.  [Idaho presently has the highest rate of That of any of the states in the nation.  It's taken several lives, is an especial danger to folks with compromised immune systems.  We haven't seen a single mosquito in the going on ten years that we've lived up here but we join others in hoping for a nice, heavy early frost.]  Cameron [with our youngest, Josie] are both in the high mountains spending the week hunting elk for the big freezer purchased by Cameron at a garage sale and duly installed and waiting in our large garage.  For my part, I long ago decided I was downright tired of Systemic Lupus and my interior determination has, at least somewhat, forced that mysterious monster down a notch or two.  Life is pretty good at this point.
 
Amidst the bloody national and global horrors, it's been impossible, given television, to escape sanguinary reality for long.  Sometimes it's close.  Not far below us here, a shoot-out two days ago left one man dead and three lawmen injured.
 
And it's been impossible to not view the frequent and periodic discussions by awe-struck national media people of various luminaries including Warren Jeffs and his "situation."  Reasonably familiar on a life-time basis with the polygamy world, I've been struck by the outright distortion of the general news media reportage.  [I can hardly blame the besieged citizens of Colorado City -- way up in the far Northern Arizona country -- and a few other singled-out places from exhibiting disdain and generally polite hostile reticence to hungry media hawks -- and I even welcomed the appearance of a black-Stetsoned local lawman who shooed away the trespassing ABC types. Larry King's "polygamy interview" two evenings or so back was probably about the shoddiest one I have yet witnessed -- and Anderson Cooper's breathless reports on the topic lead me to switch channels to Baghdad and even the "easy listening" classical and contemporary music offerings available from our TV dish.  As with unpopular political and social groups generally, there is the endless parade of the same few disaffected and the hot-eyed commentaries by such "authorities" as the politically axe grinding state AG of Utah and a venomous documentary-maker based in Phoenix [no Northern Arizonian has ever given a damn for Phoenix or any of its media people],  Missing, almost completely from the national media coverage, are the voices of the people who find Polygamy -- theologically and personally and socially -- a desirable way of life.  Totally missing are knowledgeable academic authorities from this Intermountain region who could discuss, reasonably and objectively, the reasons for the polygamist breakaway from the mainline LDS church almost 120 years ago when that body gave up plural marriage.  There are probably at least 80,000 practicing polygamists in the Intermountain West -- the majority in Utah but many in Arizona and Idaho -- and their "intentional" community roots,  which like conventional Mormonism, draw heavily from the American utopian traditions, are very old indeed.  Most of the polygamists live in isolated rural settings but a growing number in large urban areas such as Salt Lake.
 
Warren Jeffs, who has been building his biggest base down in Texas but who has flocks in Northern Arizona and Southern Utah, obviously doesn't come through as a nice person.  Why the Feds listed him on the "10 Most Wanted" entourage remains a mystery  -- Jeffs has no history of violence and was apprehended sans any firearms or bodyguards -- but that maneuver was probably a bone thrown to the Utah AG who, himself, was recently castigated on MSNBC in an interview with the often commendably libertarian [and Episcopalian] Tucker Carlson.  At the most, Jeffs has no more than 10,000 followers -- out of the total of at least 80,000 polygamists.  And, apparently even many of those who are in his particular group, compare him unfavorably to the last leader, Jeff's late father, who comes through as a steadily, family-supportive elder.  Indeed, at Colorado City [formerly Short Creek], a large faction recently removed itself to a nearby locale and set up its own community with its own leadership.  Warren Jeffs, in the context of the long enduring and basically communalistic polygamy world, is simply an unpleasant and very transitory ripple.  Those communities have been, as I say, around for a very long time -- and always will be.  They can settle whatever problems they have without the "benevolent" intervention of CNN and the Federal government.
 
Some decades back, a good writer on the American West, Stewart Holbrook [based at the Portland Oregonian] wrote a fascinating book, Dreamers of the American Dream. [It includes a good chapter on the Wobblies of which a number of really old-timers were his friends.] Holbrook covered many of the utopian efforts from the early United States well into, at the point he wrote, contemporary times.  They had their little fights, splits, were attacked as "free lovers" and even anarchists -- and, in some cases like the Wobblies, cruelly and viciously repressed for obviously self-serving economic reasons.  But the Utopian impulse and basic vision survived and always will.  The consistently gentle Amish were much maligned for decades, as were the Hutterites and similar groups.  I recall a venomously anti-Catholic and spectacularly defamatory book that appeared about 50 or 60 years ago and was, for a time, the darling of the anti-Catholic crowd:  I Leaped Over the Wall [or something close to that]  -- written by a woman who had ostensibly "fled" a convent.  And it is worth noting that, throughout the United States, there is lots of what is called "bigamy."  It exists without a churchly foundation or context, frequently wrecks families, and often winds up in bitter struggles in the divorce courts,
 
My [unchanged] historical writing and general thoughts on the Polygamy Question are -- in case you missed them -- in our now very heavily visited Lair of Hunterbear website:  http://www.hunterbear.org/IDAHO%20and%20the%20wild%20west.htm

 

 There is something called the First Amendment in this country.  Even far deeper than that, as an Indian and a Westerner, I think these now targeted communities should be left alone. 
 
Yours, Hunter [happily married to only Eldri for going-on 46 years]
 
HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
and Ohkwari'
 

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Joyce Ladner comments:
 
 
Dear John,
 
 Glad to know you are fighting the good fight even when illness wants to grab you and not let go.  I feel the same way at times.  I spent a month at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center recently and now I feel empowered to take charge of my body and mind.  I was just in Hattiesburg for my 93 year old aunt's funeral (she looked 100% Cherokee) and saw a lot of the other Indians in my family (smile). 
 
Joyce
 
Hunter responds:
 
Thanks very much, Joyce, for your good words.  We have always known, from the time we first met you and Dorie, that there is a lot of Indian ancestry and Indian blood in your family!  We are. of course, very sorry to hear of your own medical struggles -- but you are on a Good Healing Trail for sure.  I, too, have been eating carefully and sensibly.  Eldri's father died a few years ago at 95, the same age my late mother reached. Take good care, always keep in touch, and rest assured that all of our prayers and good wishes go to Dorie and yourself -- always.
 
Best, H or J
 
Added note by Joyce:
 
Tell your son that his novel arrived today and I will read it asap.  He is such a nice son to dedicate his book to his parents!
 
_______________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Lois Chaffee responds:
 
Hunter, the polygamy issue is, or should be, about forced marriage of girls to middle-aged men who already have 2,3 or more wives and whose standing in the community is based on how many children they have - which should indicate to us, if we're listening, the value of women in this system. 
 
The testimony against Jeffs, from the one woman who ran away, was that he told her, at age 13, that she must marry a man who was known to be brutal because it was God's law. If she refused, or tried to run away, he told her she would go to hell for all eternity.  At the very least, she knew that if she disobeyed, she would have to leave the only home and people she had ever known - no neighbors, no schools, no social services had ever impinged on her life - and venture out into a world that she had been taught was evil and dangerous.  I don't know if his claims to have 70 wives and more than 200 children are true, but does this sound like the happy family life of indigenous people, or a factory farm for baby-breeding?
 
I do not regard Mr. Jeffs as a public enemy on the same level as, say, Bush-Cheney-Rumsfield, but the FBI may have put him on the most-wanted list as a bone to people who care about forcing young women into "marriage."  It's a mistake to compare this kind of polygamy (and I have not heard of any other kind) to bigamy, which is usually a matter between consenting (if uninformed) adults. 
 
Happy to see that your health is treating you better and that you and mosquitos are far apart.  I checked the map and saw that Pocatello is in Cong. ID-2, but if you hear any good news about the House campaign in ID-1, or bad news about the villainous Sali, I would be glad to hear it.  Best regards, as always, to you and Eldri - may you have another 46.  Lois

Hunter responds:
 
Dear Lois:
 
Certainly good to get your letter.  [If you hadn't responded to mine, well -- I would have been a bit concerned!]
 
Aside from the fact that I think some of the more spectacular grievances from the polygamist settings should be viewed cautiously, my basic point is simply that they are people who have found a way to live -- relatively comfortably by their values -- on our increasingly turbulent and bloody planet.  They seek simply to be left alone and I think they should be.  There are, near any polygamist community, highways and mainline towns and cities. In the Short Creek [Colorado City] and environs region, many of those folks visit Flagstaff or Kingman in Arizona, St George and Kanab in Utah, and sometimes jaunt up to Salt Lake.  Most of them consistently stick staunchly with their people and their societies.  This is a time of sanctimonious witch-hunting on many fronts in the broader land and both you and I -- and many others on these lists -- know the bitter sting of that. 
 
Many of these communities were very old when I was just a little kid.  In his excellent book, Mormon Country [which initially came out about 1943], the fine author, Wallace Stegner [not a Mormon but grew up largely in Utah] paints a honest and friendly picture of the origin and rise and development of the LDS faith.  [He even has a chapter on Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch, almost all Mormon boys.]  One fascinating chapter deals with Short Creek, "Fossil Remains of an Idea."  It's a respectful, friendly treatment of the polygamist way and he concludes it with, "As long as Mormonism remains a religious force, and as long as the Confederacy is a green memory, there will always be the unreconstructed.  Faith is a weed with a long taproot."
 
Many years have come and gone and Mormonism is thriving -- not only nationally but globally.  And the polygamists are growing with whatever deliberate speed.
 
Anyway, I'll keep you posted on the more interesting developments in Idaho politics -- which will be heating up hereabouts, as elsewhere, after Labor Day.
 
In the meantime, take care, Lois, and by all means keep in touch.  And who would have ever thought we would recall fondly Rose Street, that very hot day, and the hordes of Mississippi police and dogs and clubs.  It was the courage of the demonstrators that is, of course, truly engraved in my mind and yours.
 
Eldri et al join me in sending our best.
 
As Ever, H or J
 
________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Dale Jacobson comments:
 
Hunter, I continue to believe that the government should not presume to
legislate acceptable forms of what Engel's calls romantic love, though
with our Puritanical obsessions (whatever one thinks of Clinton,
impeachment over an affair?), I don't doubt it will continue to do so.
Anything that is without harm to any involved party and is mutually
agreed to should be left to the choice of free adults.

Meredel LeSueur, the great novelist (her novel The Girl is something
of a feminist version of The Grapes of Wrath), thought the churches
were the center of communal consciousness for the working classes. On
the other hand, McGrath, our revolutionary poet, had little time for
the institution of religion, largely because of its reactionary
politics (though in South America we have observed the opposite). It
might be useful to separate the hierarchy of the church (whichever
denomination you want to consider) from the congregation itself, which
has always seemed more communal (therefore spiritual) to me than those
in charge, some of whom Dante assigned to his Infernal.

By the way, a thought: have you considered collecting and editing some
of your writings on various subjects into a book? It could be
arranged by topic or time period or any other "section" heading that
works. Your thoughts are erudite and informed and with the right
selection and arrangement should make for an interesting book. God
knows there are plenty of books that don't fit any of these criteria.
Just a thought on the breeze from Grand Forks (I know the wind travels
the other direction, so I am being atmospherically incorrect). Dale
 
_________________

Bill Mandel comments:
 
Glad to see you reminding us of McGrath. Some readers may
not know of his poetry. I remember LeSueur mostly for
shorter things in New Masses, nor is she a feminist in my
memory, but that's probably my fault.
 
__________________
 
Sam Friedman writes:

McGrath is indeed terrific.
Yesterday, I received in the mail a novelist by an up and coming novelist, one John Salter. I look forward to reading it.
sam
 
__________________
 
John Salter adds:
 
Ah yes, Salter. Well, one piece of advice. Read between the lines.

JS
 
__________________
 
Hunter responds:
 
Dale:
 
I appreciate your good words and your firm encouragement of my writing -- and your feeling that it should find a home with a publisher.
 
Bill Mandel, I should add, is among those who have consistently pushed me -- and I have, indeed, been compiling and writing material:  I have all of the older stuff gathered and classified, much of my newer material is on our huge website but some is not, and of course I will always continue to write.  [I should add, too, that I am delighted to see Bill Mandel's post of today.  This confirms that our good little part of the World is indeed coming back together!]
 
Part of my challenge is finding a publisher.  I am really not so very well known at all.  But, who knows, I shall keep on keeping on -- and Life has not infrequently brought me pleasant surprises.
 
In the meantime, amigo, take care and our very best to you all.
 
As Ever, H or J
 
______________________
 
Dale comments:
 
Yes, Sam, I look forward to reading John's new novel, which sounds
intriguing and has a wonderful title and which, I note, is endorsed by
Jim Harrison.

It is only on the strength of the one novel, The Girl, that I call
Meridel LeSueur a novelist, though I believe it to be a masterpiece.
Her social political history, Crusaders, reads with the same quality
as a novel, but you are right, Bill (I presume to call you as Hunter
does), she was primarily a short story writer. No question about her
feminism, however, (her book Ripening was published by The Feminist
Press and she saw the oppression of women as a consequence of
patriarchy, though she saw patriarchy as an expression of class, not a
singular disease). She was hardly a politically correct feminist,
though. In an interview, (past 80 then) when she was asked what she
thought of the magazine Playboy, she said she thought it was great
because it broke down our puritanism and allowed us to recognize our
bodies as our own space and admit our sexuality. Knowing her, I was
impressed with her faith in the essential humanism of working class
people, her fundamental belief in the inherent communal qualities of
the working class. She admired the Wobblies very much. All best to
you. Dale Jacobson
 
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
Jyri Kokkonen [Finland] comments:
 
Dear Hunter Gray,
Good to hear that things are a notch or two better with the lupus, as you said.
Interesting points in your letter about Warren Jeffs and polygamy in the West in relation to utopian traditions.  Looking at it from the outside, it seems that the original Mormon Church has a utopian, or millennarian, side to it. Or fits into that kind of tradition in terms of its origins in the 1830s. And the same was carried over into sects separating from it.
But why anyone would want to practice polygamy is beyond me. Most guys, myself included, have enough on their hands with just one wife, God bless her. I suppose there are certain economic conditions for different types of marriage anthropologically speaking, and I suppose in desert,wilderness locations or other extreme conditions it might be a good idea to keep the community viable and growing in that manner. Probably the basis for the original Muslim polygamy as well.  Of course, the idea of women that it reflects ain't exactly contemporary feminist discourse.
Anyway, why the song and dance about it in the American media?   I mean, the 80,000 polygamists or people involved in it that you mention are pretty much marginal, and most of them don't seem to be hurting anyone apart from themselves, let alone eroding the fabric of society. Obviously titillation, good tabloid headlines, brings in the readers and viewers. I had to look it up on the net, too.
We're off to see my old father-in-law Helge (aged 80) at a nursing home in a place about 110 kilometres from here. Nice day for a drive, a bit overcast, rained last night. Fresh air. Good opportunity to gather thoughts, process them. I may have mentioned that my father-in-law has Alzheimer's and has been in care for some years  years now. He used to be a telephone linesman and twice national middleweight champion in boxing in the late 1940s, plus Finnish Workers' Sporting Federation champion (mostly social-democrat and commie sports clubs; he was social-democrat) around the same time. His political affiliation in sports got him disqualified, on points,  from the Finnish team for the London Olympics in 1948. For obvious reasons, he was bitter about it. I used to remind him, after a few drinks, that he would have lost anyway so why complain about it. The guy they sent instead of him went down in the first round.
Old Helge was put in care about five years ago, after he was first sent for a two-week treatment period to a nursing home to make things easier for his wife. It seems he walked in the wrong room at the home, a male nurse tried to get him out of there and made the fatal mistake of doing it forcibly. Boxer's reactions: Helge knocked him down, Next scene was four young policemen getting him into a paddy wagon and taking him to a hospital for a shot and to cool down. It's both sad and funny at the same time.
But the aggressive stage wore off and, all things considered, he's happy in his own way. It's sad nonetheless.
Have to get started
Keep fighting!
 
All the best
Jyri
 
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________
 
LETTER FROM HUNTER BEAR TO SENATOR HARRY REID [NEVADA] AND COMMENTS  -- 9/28/06

To Senator Harry Reid [Nevada] from Hunter Gray [9/28/06]

I was much saddened to hear your comments on CNN last night regarding the
polygamists of Arizona and Utah and environs. Your call for a "Federal Task
Force" seemed, somehow, reminiscent of HUAC and Pat McCarran's so-called
Senate Internal Security Subcommittee.

I am a Native American -- and a native Northern [I emphasize Northern]
Arizonian, now living in Eastern Idaho. I am 72 and, for all of my adult
life, have been a community organizer and professor active on behalf of
social justice. My history is laid our pretty well in our large and well
established seven year old website, www.hunterbear.org. Most of the folks
in those polygamist communities appreciate and like their culture. I am
personally very skeptical of the more spectacular grievances given to the
Eastern [and Phoenix] media. Warren Jeffs not only does not speak for the
great majority of polygamists -- but is simply a transitory crackpot in a
long context which has traditionally featured responsible leaders. I was a
kid in the US Army when the profoundly infamous raid on Short Creek was
initiated by Republican Governor Howard Pyle -- and that dark shadow
continues to hover over that corner much as the far better known Bisbee
Deportation of 1917 still colors labor relations in Arizona [and some other
parts of the Mountain West.]I wish you well in your effort to maintain some
national sanity -- and to expand that beach-head. Speaking as an American
Indian and a Real Westerner [and you are certainly among the latter], I hope
those people can simply be left alone to enjoy what peace they can find in
this tortured world. Cordially yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

From John Salter to Hunter:

UPDATE ON HARRY REID [HUNTER GRAY] MAY 3 2008

Harry Reid who, a couple of years ago did not respond to a courteous letter from me [it's on our website in Polygamy Fires] objecting to his proposal for a Federal task force to investigate the polygamists, has once again indicated he wants that.  He received some support from the [Repuiblican] AG of Utah -- but none from the U.S. Attorney who, based at Salt Lake, said there was no evidence to justify a Federal investigation -- basing this on some previous and fairly recent Federal probes. Arizona was cool to the idea of the Feds' involvement.  The task force idea seems stalled and probably dead.  In a RBB post the other day, I commented on that:
.
 "In fact, we even have Harry Reid calling for a Federal task force to investigate polygamy, This, in addition to being in the spirit of one of his predecessors [Pat McCarran of Nevada who gave us the infamous Internal Security Act], is coming from a guy who can't fight Bush even with a Democratic Congressional majority and who has consistently waffled on the Iraq War and much, much more. But he's going to go after the polygamists! And a Texas increasingly concerned about the rising price tag of this adventure is now seeking funds from its legislature -- as Bush seeks war monies from Congress." [H.]
 

_________________________________________________________________________

From John Salter to Hunter:

Well, get ready to have your phone tapped again and your mail rifled.

JS


From Hunter to John Salter:

Well, as you know full well, Beba, those and many more things of such ilk
have been happening to us with some consistency since the middle '50s. For
the benefit of our readers, I recall [as you do so well and personally]
that, immediately [within 15 minutes] after your visitation appearance with
your fine family in August '99, various police were driving back and forth
in front of our house in this normally isolated neighborhood, one stopped
and tried to talk with a neighbor across our street [who tried to close her
door], and our own [ostensibly unlisted] telephone began ringing off the
hook -- with no one on the other end. You and I went outside and the parked
cop drove off pronto. Those were the days it took a week to ten days for
Priority mail to reach us and, when it finally did [e.g., the copies of
Mainstream from 1960 -- with my short story and Mine Mill article -- which
you had found via Net at a bookseller and sent as a gift], envelopes were
consistently mangled and torn open. That was the Billy Clinton era and
things, obviously, are even worse. That's why my brand of socialism
contains a strong libertarian dimension -- which I think everyone should
enjoy. In Solidarity, H

______________________________________________________________

 

THE TEXAS RAIDS

 

AN UPDATE NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:  APRIL 6 2008

 
 Just a little on yesterday's Texas raid against the polygamists.  This was based on statements given by just one unidentified sixteen year old girl.  Using that as their lever, Texas lawmen raided the compound and, using buses conspicuously labeled "Southern Baptist," seized dozens of young people -- taking them off for questioning.  This is, in many respects, reminiscent of the infamous raid on Short Creek [now Colorado City] by Arizona authorities in the early '50s -- a very widely protested assault and seizure which led to the children being returned to their families.  The Constitutional issues in this Texas episode should be obvious to anyone.  It'll be interesting to see if the sanctity of religious freedom, for example, can still be a matter of concern to even those who may disapprove of plural marriage.  I occasionally think that the last Real Civil Libertarian in the Lone Star State was the late Frank Dobie -- the great Southwestern writer, and a crusader for many good causes.  But I do know there are others there -- some are among "my best friends".  And, of course, there is always the wider United States -- and the world.
 
 
LOIS CHAFFEE:
 
Oh, dear, Hunter, I can't even begin to touch on all of it - and there's no reason to, since you ignored prior reminders that these cases are not about religious freedom or even "plural marriage;"  they are about CHILD RAPE.  I saw only limited coverage of the raid from here, but as I read it, the raid was based on two things:  a public record of a 15-year-old girl who gave birth last year (Texas does not recognize marriage of anyone younger than 16) and a complaint of abuse from a 16-year-old girl who is not only unidentified but MISSING.  Perhaps even with your prior mindset about Mormons, you could consider both of those factors as justifying action.  As to the "dozens" of young people seized, my news sources specified that about 50 were taken off the premises to be interviewed - did you think they could be interviewed with the elders present? - and that 13 (so far) were taken into State custody based on evidence of abuse.  They may "ultimately" be returned to their parents, but I hope I never hear of a teenage boy or girl who alleges abuse of any kind - and the authorities fail to investigate it. There has been enough of that in this "Christian" country.

Regards, Lois

 
RESPONSE TO MY GOOD FRIEND, LOIS:
 
We agree on much indeed, Lois, but not, apparently, on some interpretations of religious freedom.  But let's wait and see what all of the details really are.  When, a year or so ago, the Warren Jeffs issue was raging  [remember how FBI tagged him internationally as "armed and dangerous?"}, many of those townspeople in El Dorado, Texas, had only good things to say about their polygamist neighbors.  Pardon my cynicism -- but my views of Texas laws and Texas lawmen generally are very, very far from cordial.  The fact that Southern Baptist buses were used to carry the many kids away [some reports now say 200] should, by itself, raise some interesting questions and and suspicions.  And remember the horrific Waco tragedy engendered so righteously by the Clintons and Janet Reno?
 
I've seen too many non-conformists trashed and hurt.
 
All the best, as always --
 
H.

AND HUNTER BEAR YET AGAIN [APRIL 6 2008]

This is getting just a bit complicated, list/people addresses-wise.  So I'm sending this to the lists which seem to be most involved.  I appreciate Alice's thoughtful letter and Sheila's. Lois has just written a good letter to me off-list.  Thanks very much to all for your contributions.
 
[I like Oprah.  But, kind as Oprah is, I don't think she know much about polygamists, their history as a movement, the basic region, or the issues.  Of course, I heartily approve of her political endorsement of Obama!]
 
I've tended to be wary of "ex-type witnesses" -- e.g., ex-Catholics, ex-polygamists, ex-Reds, self-styled ex-gays, ex-LDS Mormons.  All of these often tortured souls have obvious axes to grind -- and some media folks absorb this as gospel.  In its initial rushes to judgment, CNN, for example, gave virtually no background social/historical context on the polygamy situation.  Even now, the horrific, and internationally protested raid on Short Creek in the early 'fifties, which left deep scars, is hardly mentioned.  Both Arizona and Utah have low minimum ages for marriage-with-parental-consent: essentially 16.  In those states, those marriages are legal;  and in both of the regions that together make up  the well known publicly  traditional base of the polygamists -- extreme Northern Arizona and extreme Southern Utah -- local justices of the peace have frequently given their imprimatur,
 
But the real issues here are that these polygamist communities are intentional in nature -- and comparatively old, their specific roots reaching back more than a century.  In many respects, they are unique societies with distinctive cultures.  And the foundational context is their perception of Christian theology, specifically  grounded on the teachings of Joseph Smith of yore. A marriage in that context -- approved by their church elders -- is considered totally valid in the eyes of God and the community.
 
And, I might add, considered totally valid by a great many non-polygamous folk in and around those Southwestern regions.  Even those who called [and still call] the polygamists by the scurrilous term, "Cohabs," have always respected the marriages.
 
[Polygamy, in the sense of plural wives, is not rare among the Navajo of today.  We know a number of these families.  But the Dine', fortunately, are protected by such happy and long overdue developments as the religious freedom decrees given soon after his assumption of the position of Indian Commissioner in 1933 by John Collier [FDR administration], and by the National Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978.]
 
Under these polygamous church-auspices and sanctified by its marriage ceremony, can sexual intercourse, even with a very young woman, be considered rape or abuse? The mainline -- now respectable -- civil liberties advocacy groups are often reluctant to get into these matters.  But this Texas situation now raises a host of Constitutional issues.
 
It should also be noted that it's extremely easy for anyone who wants to leave those polygamist communities to do so:  conventional Arizona and Utah towns are not at all far away -- within very easy reach.  I doubt that it's that much different in the Texas situation.
 
As I've mentioned before, I went to high school with some of the polygamy kids down for the school year from The Strip [the Northern Arizona region between the north rim of the Grand Canyon and the Utah border.]  Nice kids, much  better mannered than us. 
 
Thanks again, good friends, for your genuinely thoughtful expressions.  We'll be hearing much more on this, I'm sure.
 
Best, H

________________________________________________________________

MORE, LIKE THERE ALWAYS IS [HUNTER BEAR]  APRIL 7 2008

THOUGHTS BY HUNTER BEAR:    April 7 2008

This is not an effort to resurrect, at least at this point, the interesting discussion [ generally congenial] of yesterday which focused on the Texas raid against the polygamist community.  [People will comment, of course, just as they wish.]  National media reports this morning remain confused while knowledgeable people in this Intermountain region are increasingly drawing comparisons between this current situation and the badly scarring Short Creek raids.  [Several of us in this family, at least, see some similarities with the sanctimonious "politically correct" rush to judgment in the Duke Lacrosse matter.]  Be that as it may, the fact is that the "complainant" in the Texas situation has still not been, as far as we know, located.  No Amber Alert has been issued.  More than two hundred women and children are presently incarcerated for all practical purposes, sans any bona fide due process. Marriages sanctified by this particular polygamist church denomination are variously referred to as "rape" and "abuse."

And it is tough, in this sad little maelstrom, to sort things out.  One thing can most likely be counted upon and that is the imminent arrival of lawyers [and Texas does have some good ones] with respect to "actionable" actions.
 
I've personally held no brief for Warren Jeffs -- whose court battles including appeals will probably be numerous.  His predecessor, his father, is said to have managed things in the church bailiwick quite well -- and, I gather, discouraged marriages of young women under the age of 18.  The FLDS denomination now has new  leadership.  I don't keep up with polygamist doings but I do remain quite concerned about civil liberties -- and I'm sure I will hear things on the grapevine.  There may be as many as a few hundred thousand polygamists in this broad Intermountain region -- including Arizona, some around this section of Idaho.  Most lead inconspicuous lives, most aren't bothered by Western "authorities" who learned the lessons long ago regarding the Short Creek backlash which reached around the world.  Texas, as I've noted, is "something else" and, why Warren Jeffs et al. decided to locate a bastion there -- surrounded by local fundamentalists folk -- does remain to me a mystery.
 
I do feel obliged to add, apropos of a discussional comment yesterday, that I am not being "glib" when I say that people can leave the polygamist communities when they wish.  I know the geography of Northern Arizona and Southern Utah very well indeed -- and there are plenty of non-polygamist towns within reach.  Some folks do leave, usually quietly, often affiliating with the LDS church -- and, believe me, there are plenty of LDS folk who have relatives in the polygamist communities, and vice-versa. [Some "new people" arrive and join.]  The official LDS church frowns on the polygamist groups -- but grassroots people, with things in common, frequently get along very nicely.  And that even includes the occasional social relationships of polygamists with Gentiles [non-Mormons] in the region.  This is something I do know something about.  After all, I grew up at Flagstaff.  I would not be so presumptuous as to tell people from New York City, or Miami, or Los Angeles or Atlanta much intricate sociology about those areas.  [I do know Chicago reasonably well.]
 
The polygamy towns are not something out of a Stephen King novel -- secret cults in the [attractive to me] wilderness of Maine.  They're living, viable communities and, if they exhibit in these times, some "earned paranoia", well -- who can blame them?  Like many small rural communities, they are very cohesive and, in any of these community entities, wherever and whatever their circumstances and beliefs, it isn't easy to break ties. But there are cars and plenty of pickups in these polygamous communities, some television and radio, newspapers are not uncommon by any means.  These are vital, living people -- quite communalistic in many respects -- and almost quasi-tribal.  Their social roots lie in American utopian traditions.
 
There is a question in the air:  Why this, now?  Maybe because there was/is a complainant and on that we'll see.  In any case, why the overkill?  Well, I can think of a couple of possible -- and I say possible -- reasons:  Elections are looming ahead for almost all of us in what's called the United States -- including the components of Texas. 
 
But there is also this:
 
The local Texas land-holdings of the polygamist church involve close to 2,000 acres -- with water rights.  Think about that one.
 
Media accounts continue to be confused and confusing.  The Deseret News, the major LDS daily, covers this general region.  It's a well done paper and, at this point, its story on this Texas situation from two days ago [and thus a bit dated] is interesting in its survey of Intermountain perspectives:
 

Hildale and Colorado City worry over Texas raid

By Ben Winslow
Deseret Morning News
Published: April 5, 2008
Through whispers and phone calls, the news of the raid on the YFZ Ranch is spreading through the Fundamentalist LDS strongholds of Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz.

"Everybody's talking about it," said ex-FLDS member Isaac Wyler, who lives in the border towns.

As he drove through the towns formerly known as "Short Creek" on Friday, Wyler told the Deseret Morning News he was watching a flurry of activity. Outside an FLDS-run private school, he said dozens of cars were parked there.

"I'm sure everybody's having little meetings," he said.

Reminiscent of the infamous 1953 raid on Short Creek, where polygamists were rounded up and put in jail and their children put in foster care, people on both sides of the polygamy debate were worried about the impact of this latest action in Texas.

"It seems like a huge, massive step for law enforcement to come in like that and raid this community," said Mary Batchelor of the pro-polygamy group Principle Voices. "It's terrifying."

Ross Chatwin, another ex-FLDS member, feared the Texas raid would serve to further entrench and isolate the FLDS from the outside world.

"Warren (Jeffs) and the leaders, they're wanting something like this to happen so they can fullfil a prophecy that it will turn into another Nauvoo or '53 raid," he said. "My biggest fear is we're playing right into their hands."

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff also worried about how FLDS faithful would perceive the Texas raid. In an interview with the Deseret Morning News on Friday, Shurtleff said, "Heavens no!" he would not raid Hildale and Colorado City.

"We have no evidence that there are more child victims (in Utah) since Warren Jeffs disappeared," Shurtleff said. "The difference between the two places is Colorado City and Hildale have been opened up. They know they've been under scrutiny. In Eldorado, they were in a compound and feeling pretty secure."

Ironically, Shurtleff was in Texas last month at a speaking engagement on polygamy. He spoke alongside Carolyn Jessop, who chronicled her flight from the FLDS Church in a best-selling book.

"Texas is not going to be a state that's as tolerant of these crimes as Arizona and Utah have been," Jessop said. "In Eldorado, the crimes went to a whole new level. They thought they could get away with more."

Jessop's ex-husband is Merrill Jessop, a leader in the FLDS Church who is now in charge of the Texas compound. At age 18, she said she was forced to become Jessop's fourth wife and had eight children with him.

"My ex-husband would be the person who would be performing the marriages. He's managing everything and controlling everything," she said.

On Friday, polygamists, activists and bureaucrats met in southern Utah for a meeting of the Safety Net Committee, a group created by the Utah Attorney General's Office to foster relationships between polygamous sects and government while reaching out to those suffering from abuse and neglect. Some who attended said others expressed fear and a little paranoia.

"Law enforcement officers aren't interested in going after people because they're polygamists; they're going after people who are hurting children," said Paul Murphy, the Safety Net coordinator. "If you want to protect your community, then when cases of child abuse are coming up, report it so it can be handled directly and like any other community."

Marlyne Hammon with the pro-polygamy Centennial Park Action Committee said if abuse was happening, it was good for some action to be taken to stop it.

"If the girl was experiencing a problem, it's a good thing for her to call someone," she said Friday. "It's not right to harbor something like that."

 

______________________________________________________
 

SHORT COLLOQUY:  APRIL 7 2008

 
HUNTER BEAR:
 
The television shots of this sorry Texas situation with its slew of armed "lawmen", remind me of that fine film [workers' rights, minority rights, womens' rights], Salt of the Earth -- based on New Mexico's Empire Zinc strike, near Silver City, 1950-52. [Remember how the union women were rounded up and jailed?]  And it also brings to mind scenes that I personally recall from the great 1959-into-'60 copper workers' struggle.  And, too, come to think of it, it certainly draws forth some old Deep South memories from Southern Movement days.
 
And some other things.
 
H.
 
-------------------------------------
 
SHEILA MICHAELS:
 
You keep trying to frame this politically, in terms of the suffering workers.  But we don't see freedom of religion in the Pakistani Sharia courts that sentence a woman to rape because her brother has crossed supposedly non-existent caste lines.  We don't see freedom of religion in the Israeli settlements in Gaza.  We don't see freedom of religion in Hindus slaughtering trains full of Moslems.  We want some authority to be operative in these cases, even if they are corrupt scum, we want some action & protection of those who pled for help.
 
S h e i l a
 
_________________________________________
 
HUNTER BEAR:
 
I'm not talking about those -- those -- countries, Sheila. I'm talking about the United States of America -- so-called "Land of the Free."  We've just seen an MSNBC feature, a relatively full one, in which we have now learned that 401 children, plus the "adult women," have now been seized by that "primitive complex known as Texas."  I am not sure what you all are talking about.  I'm talking about basic family rights and values and fundamental human rights.  The news conference just held by that Texas' county's self-styled "Child Protective Services" was a shabby and evasive affair. [No tangible sign, BTW, that the young woman who presumably made the phone call has been located. The man who was arrested earlier today was charged with "interfering with a law officer" -- a charge [and there were many charges] against me at least twice in the Southern Movement.  Fortunately, some responsible media people are now converging on that miserable little county with its seat called Eldorado [El Dorado] which, ironically, translates into "The Golden One."  The "authorities" have initiated and perpetuated a nightmare which is now coming around to envelop them.  If there's any gold in their coffee can, it'll be spent many times over before this fire has run its course.  But those many for whom I [and I think many others indeed] feel much compassion and empathy  are certainly not the Finks of Eldorado. 
 
And once again, I point out that that church owns almost 2000 acres of land with water rights -- a mighty nice plum.
 
Yours, H.

_______________________________

COMMENT BY BOB GATELY:

With tears in me eyes, I read these posts and wonder why, why are we humans so damned to decide the fate of others who would wish us no harm ? Hunter, we are indeed and action the salt of this earth, be it biological or psychological, are we not all products of a evolutionary force beyond our comprehension ? God damned, god blessed with dogma's totally at odds with our imagination of how we, individually see ourselves in the grand scheme of things, as they are ,and we wish them to be ? Why in the name of God (The Brand) do we demand from others what we can not accept in ourselves ?
 
 Puzzling  over the point of balance that lies between truth and illusion, we can only wonder on the future of our species...Thank a god or human nature to keep us confused, keep us thinking, keeps us alive in contemplation of a great leap in human consciences that transcends the news of the hour and leads us to a brilliant comprehension of our shared values and aspirations. Your mind and experiences do inform our days and we are grateful for your sharing.
 
Best regards, always,
 
Bob
 

RESPONSE BY HUNTER BEAR:

Bob:
 
I'm about finished, at least for now, in responding to those who support the Texas raids and Texas "justice."  That seems pointless.
 
Your good words, of course, are very welcome.
 
Thanks very much indeed for them.  One of the especially saddening things about this truly hideous Texas raid/Texas "justice" situation are the people who would normally pride themselves on firm commitment to civil rights and liberties and due process, maneuvering to justify what will very likely be recorded  as one of the more massive and destructive blunders and sweeping human rights violations on the domestic front in these times.  But relativism on civil rights/civil liberties fronts is always a knife-in-the-side of our [and some other] societies.  And you, of course, know that very well, as do I, from such travails as the Red Scare and, more specifically, the long and genuinely heroic struggles of Mine-Mill and other solid radical crusading outfits when the knives were at the throats of ourselves and our friends and our families.
 
But we've kept going, as have many others indeed, and -- to use the time-honored slogan of our Jackson Movement -- WWW [We Will Win.]
 
Your Irish is mighty good to see on this colder Idaho morning.
 
Take care, amigo, and give my best to The Grand Canyon State.
 
In Solidarity, Hunter

____________________________________________________________

JOHN SALTER:

Well, nice to see all the men are being held at the compound without being charged with crimes.  Even murder suspects are afforded the ability to exercise their rights.  Some here have pointed out that family values are not just men's values.  That's absolutely true.  But these particular men aren't being allowed to fight for their own families against a steamrolling system which is getting a hell of a head start.

 
 __________________________________________________________________________
 
 
DAVID MCREYNOLDS:
 
". . .On the other discussion [Texas raids], which I've read but not commented, it would seem to me the government
has gone way overboard in their approach. The news cast last night spoke of the women as
"being from another world", that they didn't drink coffee, tea, or carbonated drinks, ate fruits
and vegetables. Sounds pretty sensible for me, even though I wouldn't want to forgo the coffee.
 
All of us, I know, are concerned about the rights of girls to be free of exploitation - though God
knows there is an awful lot of that in our "normal" society where they are force young girls toward
adulthood.
 
We are divided over this issue and I think to some extent it got unfairly turned into an issue of
who is more concerned over the women. If we mean the girls, yes, that is a valid concern. If it
is the women, I think we have to back off and recognize that women have the right not to assert
their rights. And the folks in law enforcement in Texas can't make them change their minds.
 
No, we should not be quiet at a time when all these kids have been yanked out of their homes
and their lives. And they should all be entitled to their full legal rights.
 
David McReynolds
 
_______________________________________________
 
HUNTER BEAR ON SOME MOVEMENT LAWYERS  [APRIL 8 2007]
 
Good points, Steve [McNichols].  Bill Kunstler and Arthur Kinoy represented me personally defense-wise on several occasions as well as in some signal cases arising out of our grassroots activist projects.  I was also able to get Bill retained as the on-going SCEF lawyer during much of the high-water Movement period.  Morty Stavis, along with Bill, helped us a great deal -- and most successfully -- in a major voting rights case stemming from our work in the Northeastern North Carolina Blackbelt.  Another fine attorney was and is Phil Hirschkop of Alexandria, Virginia -- who started working with us as a third year law student and continued his quite effective work with me, personally and project-wise, as long as I was in the South [into 1967.]
 

I always saw Bill as very much the public courtroom man -- and a guy of great personal courage. [He did like the lime-light.]  Arthur was fine in court and excelled in very careful and intricate scholarly-type research.  We always said Arthur, someway and somehow, could always find a peg on which to hang a legal hat on behalf a good cause.  When he and Bill worked together, they were a splendid team for sure.

 
A fine local attorney in our Jackson situation was R. Jess Brown -- as much American Indian as he was African-American.  He had great courage and the largest .38 Special Smith and Wesson revolver I had ever seen.  He often teamed with Bill in our Jackson struggle.  John [Beba] and I saw him a couple of times in Jackson in his later years.  John has always remembered him as a tough and sparky guy.
 
We got to Tougaloo in late summer, '61.  A year later, Bill's daughter, Karin [now an attorney in NYC] came to Tougaloo as a student.  She was taking my Political Theory course [yes, I know more about that than I concede] and, one day, she told us her father was coming to visit.  We had heard of Bill since he was one of the northern lawyers who had represented the Freedom Riders at Jackson.  So she brought him over to our on-campus home that afternoon and, with him, came Pete Seeger. They'd been on the same plane. They jiggled Baby Maria -- then eight months old or so -- and we all talked for a long time. Pete gave a fine pro bono concert at the college.  The meeting with Bill laid the basis for his representation of  a number of us [including Eldri] in the heavy storms that began very soon thereafter when we launched the Jackson Boycott, and then expanded it into the Jackson Movement.
 
Well, there were -- and are -- many fine lawyers and some damn helpful law students.  I am sure, Steve, that we've known many of the same good people.  Perhaps we'll meet at some juncture.
 
Yours, H

CORDIAL EXCHANGE BETWEEN STEVE MCNICHOLS AND HUNTER BEAR:  APRIL 9 2008

 
Steve McNichols writes -- and I respond:
 
I  find it strange that the sect (if that's the right term) hasn't retained
legal counsel to launch a counter offensive challenging the state's actions.
Surely they have enough resources to do this.

Steven F. McNichols
268 Bush Street, #3602
San Francisco, CA 94104-3503
lawcenter@
 
 
Agreed, Steve, and I do think the FLDS church does have fairly substantive financial means.  They presently are putting lawyers into the Texas raid situation.  [I don't see this church, BTW, as a "sect".  I always remember how a critical Protestant once referred to my church [R.C.] as a "sect."  I grinned at him and replied "No Protestante".  He backed off and we remained friends.]
 
I am not, by any means, an "authority" on the group's internals -- and certainly not its specific finances. But I do know something of it, obviously, and also have a grasp of the many different polygamist groups in our Intermountain region.  And I know a great deal about the long history of persecution and bigotry visited upon both the mainline LDS church -- and the polygamist break-aways.  My three best friends in school, while growing up, were Lee Benally [a traditional Navajo, killed early, while home on leave from the Navy, in a tragic auto wreck not of his making on the infamous "death highway" in Western New Mexico, then known as 666;  Chester Woods, from a Texas Dustbowl refugee family [he later became an Arizona highway patrolman]; and Norman Johnson, whose father was a key US Forest Service staffer.  Norman later became a senior vice-president [research] for the Weyerhaeuser lumber corporation.  And that was our enduring group -- and we got along very well.
 
Lee was a Navajo traditional and I think Chester was a Baptist.  Norman was a conventional LDS member.  His great/great grandfather, John Doyle Lee, had been a prominent Mormon leader who was shot [we feel quite unjustly] by a U.S. Army firing squad in the latter 19th century.  Anyway, growing up in Mormon Country, I learned a lot about the LDS travails and those of the polygamist "splits" very early on.  Josie's Cameron is LDS [his large family is a major force, as I've occasionally noted,  in the Democratic and union labor settings in Southeastern Idaho.]
 
Wallace Stegner [who died a few years ago], was one of this country's finest writers [headed the writing program at Stanford] and who, although not LDS, grew up partly in the Salt Lake Valley and always got on well with the Mormons.  Although noted primarily for his excellent fiction, much drawn from the Real West, he wrote a great nonfictional book in the early 1940s, Mormon Country [many subsequent editions].  I read it as a kid early on.  It's a nicely done and very readable -- and quite sympathetic -- discussion of Mormon history [and some related union labor history] and it contains a very friendly chapter on the Short Creek polygamists.  [Stegner was not "thrown" by the practice of plural marriage.]  The chapter, "Fossil Remains of an Idea", concludes with this:
 
"As long as Mormonism remains a religious force, and as long as the Confederacy is a green memory, there will always be the unreconstructed.  Faith is a weed with a long taproot."
 
The mainline LDS church has, of course, grown fast and tremendously.  And the ranks of the polygamists have grown as well -- probably a few hundred thousand in this general region.  Warren Jeffs has simply been a ripple in the much greater polygamist waters -- where people simply want to live their lives and be left alone.  The news coverage by, say, CNN, reflects nothing knowledgeable about any of this. Warren Jeffs' predecessor, his father, was a stable and sensible leader; the new leadership promises a return to that old-time style.
 
If anyone is interested in this, I continue to suggest Deseret News [the LDS daily] and the Salt Lake Tribune -- easily found via Google.  Fine papers journalistically, they know the score.
 
In Solidarity, Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 
FROM HUNTER BEAR:  DISCUSSION NOTES ON THE TEXAS RAIDS SITUATION   APRIL 9-10  2008
 
 
HUNTER BEAR:
 
. . .Jim  Bevel, whose civil rights career was splendid [as was that of his partner, Diane Nash], apparently did become involved in very politically conservative fundamentalist Christianity at some later point.  But I haven't seen him since the fall of 1963 when I attended the SCLC convention.  He and Andy Young were sitting with Martin King on a tier a little higher than the main floor.  Andy Young spotted me and whispered to Dr King -- who then smiled at me in very cordial fashion. And, of course, I smiled back very cordially. We had seen one another not too long before at Jackson.  That's my last recollection of Jim Bevel.
 
Best, H

----------------------

 
 
HUNTER BEAR:
 
I really don't feel particularly disposed to argue with you, Norla.  But I do feel obliged to say that I grew up in the Navajo country -- in a family with extremely close ties to The People as well as with those of Laguna Pueblo [near Grants, NM.]  Our ties exist to this very moment  and, to cite Navajoland as an example, we can always feel very, very much at home in that setting.  During the various times I was in Tucson -- 1950s, lived there for two years or  so -- there were virtually no Navajo there that I saw [and I got around], or even very many in Phoenix for that matter -- during that period.  There were a few who worked as hardrock miners at Superior, Globe and Miami -- but those settings had more people [and not many at that] from the San Carlos and White Mountain Apache reservations.
 
And I don't think most Navajo are at all concerned about polygamy -- it's by no means as common as it was, say, a generation or two ago --  but it's still around. Many Navajo indeed are purely traditional.  Most Christian Navajo -- Catholic, Episcopalian, LDS, even some Lutherans --save for those who are involved with the more fundamentalist versions of Christianity -- are also, in many ways, very traditional. [Even some of the "fundamentalists" are.] The Navajo version of the Native American Church [peyote carefully used as the sacrament] is, despite an occasional crucifix on the wall of the ceremonial hogan, very traditional.  And tradition in Navajo society and culture, [and this is true of Native tribal societies generally], is respectful in nature [save for Witches and Skinwalkers.]
 
Polygamy is obviously a major issue in the Texas tragedy.  And another may well be the almost 2,000 acres [with water rights] owned by the church.
 
Anyway, Norla, that's our view -- and I much respect yours.
 
Best, H.

------------------------

 
HUNTER BEAR:
 
Gerry Goldstein of San Antonio and a top civil liberties attorney, is now lead counsel  in the FLDS church case in Texas.  And Texas now has some rough bronc-riding rodeo experiences ahead for it.
 
[And Reber Boult, of New Mexico, himself a top-flight lawyer, writes:

Hunter observes, "I believe Gerry Goldstein from San Antonio, who is quite good on civil liberties/civil rights issues has joined the fray on behalf of the church.  I know only a little about him; he does seem very capable." 

Were I in trouble with the law, Gerry Goldstein would be the lawyer I'd want.

- Reber Boult

____________________

HUNTER BEAR:

Well, thanks yet again, Bob [Gately], for a most provocative and very lively letter.  After watching some of the news media coverage of this Texas thing, I think one would have to go back to the more lurid days of the Red Scares to find anything comparable.  MSNBC has been a little better than CNN on some of this but not much.  The same traveling team of ex-polygamy members that graced the Jeffs situation is back yet again with essentially the same tales. In the old "criminal syndicalism" trials of IWW members in California in the '20s -- and there were several dozen of those perversions of justice -- there was a traveling witness team for the state that appeared at about every one of those drum-head affairs: an ex-Wobbly, an elderly rancher with Horror fabrications, and a detective type. That team was well paid by the state.  This is somewhat reminiscent for sure in the contemporary media context.]  We may disagree [and apparently do] on the mainline LDS church  Bob, but we have the same grasp of the Constitutional and human rights principles involved in this latest fundamentalist Mormon episode.
 
I know a lot, of course, about the "regular" LDS church -- but not nearly as much about the internals of the polygamist groups.  But I do know enough about them to post that which I've put forth [and I know some more as well]. 
 
Short Creek and much more have left deep scars. For understandable reasons, the polygamists are wary of the "outside" and have little penchant for talking to media.  This obviously leaves the media space free for their opponents.  Their lead attorney is Gerry Goldstein from San Antonio, who is quite good on civil liberties/civil rights issues.  He is top rank.
 
Our Eastern Idaho tv stations have been reasonably objective about all of this.  The Salt Lake-based papers are still the best when it comes to covering matters like this.  And they are quite good generally.  They know the land and the people.
 
While I certainly don't think everything in the universe can be placed in the context of economic materialism, a good deal certainly can.  In this instance, my mind will not let go of the fact that the Texas branch of FLDS has almost 2,000 acres of land, plus water rights.  I know enough about self-serving conniving in the West to figure that That looms large in the shadows.
 
Anyway, amigo, thanks yet once again for your good thoughts.
 
Off for more strong coffee,

H

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

 

A WIDELY POSTED APPEAL [HUNTER BEAR/HUNTER GRAY]  APRIL 11 2008

The recent events in West Texas should be of considerable concern to anyone troubled by the serious slippage of traditional American commitments to civil liberty on a very wide range of domestic [and related international] fronts. The Texas raids, involving the massive assault by Texas lawmen on a local settlement of the polygamist FLDS church, one of a number of such historical fundamentalist breakaways from mainline Mormonism with old roots, have led to the massive disruption of a community of peaceful people,wild [and as yet at least] unsubstantiated charges thrown to the four directions, the seizure of hundreds of children by state authorities, the functional incarceration of several hundred men and women, and the disruption of the denomination's sacred places.

Basic American foundational tenets of religious freedom and due process of law and other Constitutional rights as well have been thrown to the winds. The assault was [at least ostensibly] sparked by complaints of abuse at the FLDS settlement by a professedly 16 year old young woman to the county Child Protective Services many days ago -- and vigorously and openly supported by, among others, the local Southern Baptist contingents et al. from the region.

The young woman involved, whose name may or may not be actually known to authorities, has apparently not yet been located. But on the basis of her complaint, again at least ostensibly, there has been this signal assault on people and thus on the Constitutional rights of all of us.

There have been as yet no formal arrests/charges of substance.

And there has been considerable and troubling silence so far on the part of established organizations in the United States which have been historically committed to civil rights and civil liberties. In fact the silence so far by Americans of good will generally speaks sad volumes.

Mainline American news media, which can dissect with precision every nuance in the current national political campaign, have, for the most part, simply disseminated the official version of justification without any depthy and critical scrutiny,

The FBI has moved to the edges of the situation but its concerns and role remain murky.

The FLDS church has fortunately assembled a promising legal defense team -- headed by one of Texas' leading civil liberties attorneys.

In addition to the obvious forces of just plain religious bigotry, there is another very possible motivational factor in this tragic odyssey:

The FLDS church settlement in this West Texas setting owns almost 2,000 acres of land, with water and associated rights.

And that, of course, is a very attractive plum indeed. Think about that in the long Western [and American] context of self-serving and conniving attempts to secure the prized land and water and resources of others -- including those of American Indian people.

[ I grew up in Northern Arizona, not far geographically from the religious polygamist communities of our state and the adjoining dimensions of Southern Utah. The FLDS settlement in West Texas grows directly from that setting. I'm familiar with the history and the issues.]

For more on this, see our expanding webpage. We've had to observe our own spatial limitations -- it could most likely go on forever -- but it is reasonably substantial and quite current.

http://hunterbear.org/POLYGAMY%20FIRES.htm

In Solidarity, Hunter [Hunter Bear]

______________________________________________________

EXCERPT FROM A LETTER TO A FRIEND  [SUGGESTED BACKGROUND READING]   HUNTER GRAY  APRIL 11 2008

There are two older books that you would find useful.  One, that came out originally in the early '40s and has been much reprinted, is Wallace Stegner's Mormon Country.  Stegner was a top American writer, headed the writing program at Stanford for years, and -- not a Mormon -- had very friendly relations with LDS people from the point he largely grew up in the Salt Lake Valley. He has a chapter on the Short Creek [now called Colorado City] polygamists.  It shouldn't be hard to find, very readable.  Another, which came out in 1957 and has been reprinted somewhat, is Stewart H. Holbrook's Dreamers of the American Dream.  This has a good bit, as I recall, on various American utopian movements and communities, a chapter on Mormons, the Wobblies, and more.  It is popular history, but detailed, very readable and interesting. Holbrook was a top newspaperman with the Portland Oregonian and a good writer.  Both of those books together would answer many of your questions.  H.
 

____________________________________________________________________

 

COMMENTS:

 
 

JOHN SOLBACH:

 
Hunter/John,

It is easy to not remember that those summarily and easily vilified in the press do have constitutional rights which, if we do not
respect and uphold, will most assuredly erode right along with those we take for granted always being there to protect us.
And that an apparently one sided story does not always just have one side. Thanks for the perspective.

John M.Solbach
 
[John M. Solbach, a cousin of mine on my mother's side, is a Lawrence Kansas attorney, a leader in the state Democratic party, and a USMC combat veteran from the Vietnam War.  He has frequently served in the state legislature.   H.
 

___________________________
 
SAM FRIEDMAN:
 
And when it involves violations of human rights, perhaps some creative nonviolence--if this is safe?

___________________________
 
STEVEN MCNICHOLS:
 
I agree with Hunter. Due process and equal protection under law are most critical in those cases invoking the strongest public outrage.
That's when we are really tested as a people.
 
Steven F. McNichols
268 Bush Street, #3602
San Francisco, CA 94104-3503
lawcenter@
 
_______________________________
 
MATTHEW MCDANIEl:
 
Hunter, yes, this is exactly the case with a virgin bed thrown in to
fan the flames of rage.

Matthew
 
__________________________________________
 
BARBARA SVEDBERG:
 
Dear Hunter,  The following writing really woke me up.  I had been avoiding reading the stuff in the news about this group.  It is hard to know where society should stand on this issue.  At my current age, 65, I can imagine the benefits of being in a marriage with more than one person but when I was fertile the idea was terrifying.  I read that some of the children had chicken pox perhaps the children were not taken for vaccinations.  Having been part of a psychiatric commune, I know how one person can define reality for many others.  The children in the situation had no choice about whether they would be part of the commune's belief system.
 
Still, when one thinks about Native Americans and what the so called Christian whites did to them, one can see your point.  Today with the sub -mortgage crisis, should we interfere with people learning an economic lesson through losing their home?  It all comes down to greed doesn't it?  Any way thank you for causing me to think differently.  I am so glad that I live in Sweden even though there is a lot of interference in private life.  Warmly, Barbara Svedberg
 
___________________________________________________
 
BRIAN RICE:
 
Hi Hunter,

Members of the group have settled in B.C. as well in their community
called Bountiful and have been left alone. You can expect similar raids
soon as the Stephen Harper right wing government in Canada follows the
lead of the Bush government.

Brian
 
[Brian Rice, Mohawk, is a university professor at Winnipeg.]
________________________________________________________
 
STEVE PROCTOR:
 
It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out.  I must admit, I get suspicious when I encounter "off the beaten path " groups of people headed by old white guys.  I have yet to see anything that resembles due process in this case, however.  I hadn't considered an alternative agenda for the "raid."
 
Yours truly,
Steve

 
_________________________________________________________
 
 
RESPONSE TO A RESPONSE  [HUNTER BEAR]  APRIL 12 2008
 
Apparently in response to my basic position on the "polygamist/Texas raids" controversy, Carol Horwitz has written, on the SNCC list:

"Isn't it interesting that those who rise so quickly to defend these "men" are men? Just observing. "

Aside from the fact that this places the writer in far clearer perspective than anything I could ever say or write, I do add this:

I've been somewhat surprised, but probably not overly surprised, about the willingness of some -- whose sensitivity to civil rights and civil liberties positions have been evident in the past -- to accept at face value the contentions of, say, the very Texas lawmen and collateral authorities in this matter whose words they would write off forthwith [and rightly] if those lurid words and presumptuous characterizations were directed as they so often are, against anti-war crusaders, "long haired" university students "hippies", alleged pot users, gays, and certainly racial and ethnic minorities.

I think most of the shrill critics of the things I've written on the topic at hand -- which are, of course, focused mainly on the civil liberties/civil rights dimensions of a mounting human tragedy engendered by a massive Texas assault -- know virtually nothing first-hand about Mormonism, the polygamist break-aways, or even, in some instances, the Mountain West. I do happen to know a great deal about those things and so -- assuming there are at least some interested people who look beyond clichés and sloganeering and who support social justice beyond their own bailiwicks, I do my best to explain them.

I have no apologies whatsoever for taking that trail.

Recognizing that some people are, more than likely, getting more than a little tired of this, I do add the response that evoked the response:

From me: I'm not writing out of a void. I grew up in essentially rural Northern Arizona and am personally well aware of the history and the sociology of these -- actually many -- polygamist groups. [I've been fascinated by them since I was a kid. And I have always found those community members I met to be very friendly folk.] These groups are certainly not cults, And I personally never use the word "sect" which these days usually carries a generally negative connotation.

I'd say these groups are quasi-tribal. Their own unique roots reach back more than a century -- when they left the mainline LDS church [which itself grew out of old American utopian communalistic traditions], soon after its departure from polygamy in 1890. As the decades and generations have passed, these groups have become, in many ways, quasi-tribal with their own still-communalistic and distinctive culture.

I don't buy at all the lurid hype attributed to them by hostile media and others -- sadly reminiscent of, say, the Jackson Mississippi papers when the old Hedermans were running them in the segregation days. These people live steadily, sedately, and faithfully by their own religious tenets. Referring to them as "Mormon fundamentalists" is accurate.

I tend to be wary of embittered and vocal "ex" people: ex-Catholics, ex-Mormons,ex-Reds, ex-polygamists et al.. Their axes-to-grind are obvious.

I was away in the Army in 1953 when Arizona authorities [over 100 state police and a large contingent of National Guardsmen] raided the Short Creek polygamist group, seized virtually the whole community of several hundred, including about 250 children. Many of the adults were jailed for long periods. Most of the children were held in Arizona "foster homes" for two years before they were able to return to their parents. The shabby and ungrounded lurid rationales that were used in that situation are kin to those canards being floated in the Texas raids. The resultant protests following the Short Creek tragedy, nationally and then internationally, subsequently wrecked the career of the Arizona governor, a Republican. Short Creek, now known as Colorado City [after the Colorado River] endures -- and most likely always will. These communities couldn't survive, especially given the often hostile police and media attention they receive, if they didn't have [and they do have] the committed support of their own people.

Anyway, if anyone is further interested, they should find this webpage of ours helpful. And I'd be happy to try to answer any off-list queries that might arise. I'm not a certified specialist in polygamy matters -- have been monogamously married for 47 years -- but I probably know much more about all of this than anyone else on these discussion lists. http://hunterbear.org/POLYGAMY%20FIRES.htm [H.]
 
_____________________________________________________________
 
NEW SHIFTS AND EMERGENCES [TEXAS]  APRIL 14  2008  HUNTER BEAR
 
[I won't be posting daily on this, but there have been, in this situation, some new emergences and some shifts.]
 
The following is a good article from today's Deseret News -- wide-ranging Western daily, centered in our Intermountain West.  Its site also contains photos and video footage of the inside of the FLDS "compound" taken by the Salt  Lake-based newspaper. It may be significant that CNN showed some of these photos on its prime-time morning news at several points over the weekend.  http://www.deseretnews.com/home  The lurid media accounts that have heretofore characterized the FLDS church and its members appear to be shifting somewhat.
 
There are still many facts -- real facts -- that we don't know about all of this.  But the cruel realities and effects of the Texas raids are now emerging and the church itself, seen by many outsiders and critics as "mysterious",  is slowly, coming much more to life in a genuinely human fashion.
 
One of the problems in discussing this situation seems to be that many of us who do  know something about this see the church as a church, and an organic entity.  Others perceive it variously as a "cult" but not as a church.  I am convinced it certainly doesn't qualify as a cult and that internally it is quite unified. [ Others appear to feel that there's an internal dichotomy between men and women. ] It's obvious that the substantive battery of attorneys retained by the church -- including the notable Constitutional lawyer, Gerry Goldstein of San Antonio, are representing the entire body: women, men, and children -- all of whom have been victimized by the horrendous assault by Texas lawmen and their collateral allies.
 
And. of course, the church mothers are -- well, very much women.  And the children are children.  And the men are husbands and fathers.
 
[My interest in this, as I have indicated several times, centers on the civil libertarian/civil rights dimensions of this situation. Obviously, I've been happily married -- monogamously -- for 47 years.  And of course, I am a Catholic [albeit a "cafeteria" one at the present -- though we are always prepared to call a priest should the occasion warrant one.]
 
Now, two weeks after the alleged phone call by the ostensibly terrified 16 year old girl, she still remains to be found.
 
She had named a man named Barlow, presently at Colorado City, Ariz. as her abusive husband.  Barlow denied this, said he hadn't been in Texas for many years, and did not know the young woman. He was backed up by authoritative persons.  The Texas Rangers interviewed Barlow and did not arrest him.
 
In the meantime, another unnamed and apparently unlocated young woman has made a call to Arizona authorities -- alleging that she was mistreated.  Arizona, which went through a national and international fire-storm of criticism following the massive raid on Short Creek in 1953, appears to be moving very, very cautiously regarding all of this.  And so is Utah.
 
So what's really the deal?
 
The fact that the "case" is getting shaky is now receiving some media notice.  And I was interested and frankly pleased to see Jonathan Turley, a top Constitutional expert from George Washington University appearing on ABC yesterday.  Professor Turley, who frequently appears on MSNBC [including Keith Olberman's program], commented essentially that Texas has a rough legal row to hoe because, as he put it, "parental rights are deeply embedded in the Constitution."
 
The fact that the county Child Protective Services is now enlisting "mental health experts" vis-a-vis the children, and probably others, carries a frankly sinister echo of certain regimes not especially noted for their concern with peoples' rights.
 
This church -- and it is a church whether its critics like it or not -- is not analogous to a Native tribal nation.  But it's an old church -- more than a century -- and does have its own distinctive way of life.  Like Indian tribes, historically and even now beset by "do gooder" missionaries and U.S. government people, -- outsiders -- it's obviously being subjected to fast and essentially ethnocentric judgments from those who know little or nothing about it.  It wasn't so very long ago that Native children were being taken in large numbers from their families and tribes by the U.S. and Canadian government authorities -- ostensibly to "save" the children.  The effects of those nefarious policies were downright hideous.  But the Indians have always remained Indians -- committed to family, clan, tribal nation, and their respective cultures.
 
There's something to be said for the case that an Old Entity whose roots go back as far as those of this church, does possess a certain amount of accrued sovereignty and self-determination rights.
 
And, as I say, I can't let go of my thoughts about that very nice piece of church land in Texas: almost 2,000 acres with water.  I know very well the long history of land and water theft, often "under color of law," especially in the more arid parts of our American West.
 
For anyone really interested in knowing more about the historical roots of Mormonism, and its polygamist breakaways, I continue to recommend:
 
Wallace Stegner's excellent Mormon Country and its chapter on Short Creek [Colorado City] -- Fossil Remains of an Idea.  The book has had many editions.
 
Stewart H. Holbrook's Dreamers of the American Dream.  This is a well-written account of  various American utopian movements which also involves sections on the Mormons and the Wobblies.
 
Best, H

_______________________________________________________________________

AND THE STATE OF TEXAS INHERITS THE WIND  [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR]  APRIL 15 2008]

 
The attached news story says a great deal that warrants careful reflection.  It's from the Salt Lake City-based Deseret News, a well known, high quality daily newspaper with wide circulation in the extensive Intermountain region of the West which is read by a great many Mormons and a great many non-Mormons.  Broadly respected, it enjoys a solid reputation in national journalistic circles. It's owned by the mainline LDS church [which has not sanctioned polygamy since 1890] and it's a paper that cuts its own trail.  I mentioned earlier that, many years ago, it did a fine interview with me when I was in Salt Lake and spoke to an overflow audience on the Southern Movement at the University of Utah. [It probably helped that I am from rural Northern Arizona, not far down the road from Salt Lake by Western standards.]  It was the first newspaper to give a "human face" to the horrific situation in Texas.  And now, at whatever glacial pace, other national news media are finally beginning to look deeper into the situation that they, initially, took at face value from Texas lawmen and associated forces and that many in the general American public, even people normally skeptical of most news media and lawmen accounts and committed to civil liberties and due process, rushed to embrace.
 
As I hit the sack last night, media reports were beginning to probe the question:  who was and where is the so-called sixteen year old girl who claimed she was calling from the nearby polygamist community and who reported substantial personal abuse from her alleged husband The name of the husband was given by the complainant -- a man who lives in Northern Arizona and who has since proven to the satisfaction of Texas authorities that he has not been in the Lone Star State for decades.  The presumed young woman apparently gave no name for herself. Now, more than a fortnight later, Texas authorities -- who had based their precipitous en masse raid solely on the foundation of an anonymous phone call, have produced no complainant.  Some days later, another presumed young woman made a similar call to Arizona authorities claiming abuse at Colorado City, but apparently also gave no name. She has not turned up. The Arizona officials are, to put it mildly, extremely cautious.  Some informed speculation now involves the possibility that both calls were made by the same alleged young woman and that she was operating, not from or around any polygamist community but, instead, from another location entirely.  Some are wondering if "she" even exists at all. The possibility of "hoax"is being whispered.  And the question of "Why" looms close.
 
[On that one, I continue to think about the attractive church landholding in Texas -- a plum.]
 
While many facts remain to surface in this, one of the facts that stands out is that Texas has, in a number of ways become enmeshed in a rapidly growing nightmare which has moved far beyond the nightmare its authorities have visited upon the polygamist community.  ["Inherit the wind" for Texas seems timely.]
 
Texas' case for the raids, built on an incredibly flawed warrant, is now in very serious legal [and moral] jeopardy.
 
Whatever happens, I am certain that the polygamists will survive and regain their perception of normalcy. They've been around for a very long time.  It should be noted that their creative non-violence warrants study by anyone committed to that philosophy and practice.
 
For my part, I've endeavored to raise the Constitutional and human issues involved in this purely awful affair and, as probably the only person on any of these lists who knows something from close-up, beginning with my very early years, about the history and sociology of the polygamist folk and their communalistic communities, have tried to provide some of this for list readers.  Now, with mainline media finally -- finally -- beginning to cover this situation, I'll most likely be posting much less frequently on this.
 
But stay tuned.
 
Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

___________________________________________________________

Hunter,

Am passing this on to a couple of other lists.

Peace,
David
 
___________________________________
 
ATTORNEY REBER BOULT:
 
Hunter's paragraph (copied below) on the reliability or existence of the person who first reported (or not) the bad action prompts me to note some legalistic thoughts I've been mulling about the application of the fourth amendment.

Mostly, and emphatically for the reasons Hunter states, an uncorroborated anonymous tip doesn't furnish the "probable cause" needed to search or seize homes, people, and things.  I say "mostly" because there's at least one federal case, following one of the principles initiated by the Supreme Court in the '80's as a part of that court's program to gut the fourth amendment, that says if the cops tried unsuccessfully to corroborate the information they can search anyway because they were acting in "good faith" (that's a principle that a number of states have rejected in applying their own constitutions' analog to the fourth amendment--yes, some "states' rights" are beneficent).

Another reason for "mostly" is the principle that some emergencies ("exigent circumstances" in legalese) dispense with some fourth amendment things that are otherwise required.  I'd need to look this up to be sure, but I don't believe that calling it an emergency dispenses with the requirement that the information that prompted that label meet the traditional standards of reliability.  If I'm wrong about this, substantial questions would remain as to whether the information and the emergency applied to each one of those 400+ children and the innumerable other things and people seized and places searched.

- Reber Boult

-----------------------------------------------------------------

DAWN L. [A FORMER STUDENT AND LONG-TIME FRIEND:

Hunter Bear:  It was so refreshing to read your comments regarding the raids in Texas and the 'land grab issue'.  You are much more informed about the southwest than I, but I sincerely appreciate your rational logic.  There is indeed extreme religious bigotry.  One news commentator made a very inappropriate reference about a "sexual bed" found within the worshipping Temple!  I was taken aback by this very irresponsible comment.  I sincerely was surprised by the legal analysis by the Utah State Attorney General.  He said this was a "cult" which treated women like the Mideast Taliban.  That the female members of the church were so timid that they did not realize they were abused!  Such mass hysteria was needlessly created. 
Take care my professor friend and please keep on writing.  I sincerely appreciate your logic & reasoning.
(P.S., I always wished that I had the ability to write as you).
 

As ever, Dawn L.  [Dawn is a Meskwaki Indian, of Iowa]
 

 

A WORD ON CRITICS AND THEIR REACTIONS TO MY CIVIL LIBERTARIAN POSITION  [HUNTER BEAR]  APRIL 15 2008

 
As any reader who has come this far is well aware, I have recently posted frequently and regularly on the horrific Texas raids.  Early on, I encountered sharp and often personally snide remarks from a few women, and and an occasional man, who objected and resented my measured but candid position. Some of this reached a peak on the SNCC discussion list  which includes people from the Southern Movement days, plus many scholars and others with no Old Movement connections.  There were sharp attacks and criticisms of my position -- from these few people who obviously were taking the assessments of the Texas authorities and the lurid media accounts at face value.  Here is a typical one, from Carol -- sent to individuals and to the SNCC list:
 
"Just sent both of you an email saying that I understand Mario's passion, and that he should keep on posting.  If we are willing to put up with the tens of thousands of nonsensical rightwing lunatic postings from John Salter a/k/a hunter red rover gray "nut" bear and all of his other self rightous, completely self centered terms for himself, we can take Mario's one liners.  In fact, they are refreshing."  Carol
 
[I should add that I post only sparingly on the SNCC list.  And this has to be the first time in my life that I've ever been called a "right winger."  Perhaps that label stems from my commitment to the Second Amendment and the sensible use of firearms.   H.]
 
Sam Friedman, who wrote an encouraging letter to me in the midst of this maelstrom, also wrote a reasoned letter to Carol.
 
Attorney Steve McNichols wrote this succinct missive when he was sharply criticized for supporting me:

"Hunter's my friend because I say he's my friend and--I believe--he feels the same way. Try your litmus test on someone else."  And he wrote some other personally supportive ones as well.
 
Steven F. McNichols
268 Bush Street, #3602
San Francisco, CA 94104-3503
lawcenter@
 
Then a person named Mario, who I don't know and of whom I know little and who obviously didn't know me or my long sojourn in the Southern Movement, wrote a number of posts -- one of which attacked me directly:
 
And I immediately wrote an interesting letter to Mario, and then sent this post to a number of discussion lists where I am well known:
 
 
NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR: [APRIL 13 2008]

Yesterday, on the SNCC list, there were a number of exchanges -- most of them initially stemming from a very, very few women, who don't like my civil libertarian/civil rights stance on the FLDS church situation in Texas. But, early on, a guy named Ken Lawrence entered the situation with his usual series of ungrounded and very personal attacks on me, some of them outright untruths, all laced with innuendo. This has happened before on several occcasions and my consistent response to him is to simply post our web-page Link to our full and reasonably detailed account/analysis of the long and tangled Federal court case involving the files of the old Mississippi State Sovereignty Commission [the official "spy" agency in the Magnolia State.] I was one of the plaintiffs in that Federal civil action which was designed to determine how the files should be released. Lawrence, who was not in the Southern Movement during the '60s -- mostly in Chicago -- was an adversary in the matter. In a few moments, you'll have my Link to our webpage on that litigation and its collateral dimensions. While this was going on, Joyce Ladner, who we have known since the Tougaloo days, asked, reasonably enough, about the files and that back-and-forth with me moved along reasonably. Lawrence kept going -- even drawing in several mentions of our UFO interests and involvement. Again, he's done all of this before. In the midst of this, a good friend on this list sent me a kind off-list encouraging note. The "discussion" tapered off.
 
Later in the evening, someone named "Mario" who I don't know but who I think is from Texas, began a series of somewhat disjointed posts . . . He made some negative general aspersions about the present SNCC list and also attacked me.  I am not sure at all that Mario was part of the core group of civil rights activists in the Deep South dimension of things. [I have since learned that he was not.]  This battery of post-shots, stemming from Lawrence's posts . . . came to number 15 or so in rapid-fire succession.  And one of those [was] obviously influenced by Ken Lawrence's distaste for me . . .

Steve McNichols immediately sent a strong post to the SNCC list in defense of me,  [He also wrote several more in that genre.]

Mario then continued his posts which came to number, as I've indicated, to about 15 -- within less than an hour. When a woman on the list finally took exception to the number of posts, Mario took a swipe at her.

At that point, although I'd headed off to bed, I compiled this short response to Mario et al. and sent it twice [to be sure] to the SNCC list. Our website abounds with material regarding me and this is just a sampling of some high spots. It's a full answer, to which I have had as yet no response.

I encourage you to read it, if you have any interest in this, and check out the Links:

BRIEF LETTER TO "MARIO":

I don't think, Mario, that we have ever met. If you really do -- do -- have any concerns about me, I suggest you do several things:

1] Check out our long and quite accurate website page on the Sovereignty Commission situation. I've given its Link too many times today, probably, but here, once again: http://www.hunterbear.org/tangledsovcomcase.htm When you get to the bottom of the page, you will see many references to my Sov. Comm. documents. My name [and that of my wife] is accurately stated in many listings, a little garbled on others, etc -- but there are a fair number of listings. Obviously, those forces which listed me [and Eldri] were quite hostile to us and to our civil rights endeavors.

2] Then, you could go to the Mississippi Archives and History link to the Sov Comm pages -- and look at mine [and those few that relate to Eldri.]

3] And then, you could go to this website Link on which you can find a sequence of several of my Sov Comm documents. One page is a long investigative summary by several adversaries, including Tom Watkins, a key figure in and around the Commission's operations:
The several pages start here: http://hunterbear.org/more_mississippi_state_sovereign.htm

4] I secured, in the end, over 3,000 of my FBI documents via FOIA/PA -- and there were at least a hundred or more that have been refused me on the grounds of "national security." With this Link you can go to "Secret No More" to S http://www.newstrench.com/01secret/01secret.htm

And you will find this:

Salter, John R. Jr. HQ-1390002304
Salter, John R. Jr. HQ-0440022358
Salter, John R. Jr. HQ-1000433798
Salter, John R. Jr. HQ-1390005933
Salter, John R. Jr. HQ-1900026178

My files stretch from about 1957 to 1979 And I suspect there are many more by now. I was listed in Section A of the Reserve Index/Security Index and also on the Rabble Rouser Index. I like that. FBI pages, like some of my Sov Comm pages, are sprinkled throughout our very large Hunterbear website.

And, for who I am, take a look at my narrative:
http://hunterbear.org/narrative.htm

And for a synopis of my work in the Magnolia State, this doesn't take long to read: http://hunterbear.org/A%20MISSISSIPPI%20KEYNOTE%20STORY.htm

Well, I trust that will end your concerns in the vein in which you expressed them. If you -- or anyone else -- wishes to correspond with me, you can easily reach me at hunterbadbear@hunterbear.org I will be glad to hear from any friends. 

Yours, Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear] Once known as John R Salter Jr.
 
None wrote to me.  And, of course, I continue to post as always on those lists to which I belong.  I have always "spoken my own piece" and always will. 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR]

ANOTHER RELIGIOUS FREEDOM STRUGGLE  [NATIVE AMERICAN CHURCH]  HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR
 

EXCERPT FROM -- ALCOHOL AND PEYOTE AND NATIVE AMERICANS [HUNTER GRAY]
http://hunterbear.org/alcohol_and_peyote_and_native_am.htm

 
And now to Peyote [Peyohtay or Peyoht]:

This is the mildly mescaline root from the mescal plant of the northern
Mexican highlands. Bitter tasting, it produces a dream-like, hallucinogenic
state -- actually very mild in nature. Until the latter 1800s, its usage in
what is now called the United States was restricted to the extreme southern
portions of the Southern Plains and Southwest and it was utilized nowhere
else.

But, to make my most basic point of all, peyote was always traditionally
used solely -- I repeat solely -- for carefully controlled religious
ceremonials. And that is universally the case among Native American people
today. It is never used for recreational purposes by the Indians. It is
sacramental.

The period from 1890 [and the Wounded Knee Massacre] into the 1930s was the
nadir -- the lowest point of all historically -- for Native people in the
United States. It was during this period, with the Native tribal religions
under relentless Federal attack, that the use of peyote -- as this very
special sacrament -- in essentially secret ceremonies, began to spread
northward through the Plains and across much of the Southwest, then into the
Great Lakes country and the Intermountain West. [It did not reach the East.]
Attacked with venom by the Federal government and most Christian missionaries
-- and sometimes by Native traditional leaders -- the peyote groups persevered
and eventually joined together in several loose associations which all carry the
name, Native American Church.

Two basic versions of the Peyote Faith emerged: The theology of the
Plains/Midwest/Lakes/parts of the Rockies -- in which many Christian
elements are mixed with the local tribal cultures [the Winnebago of Nebraska
and Wisconsin being a prime case in point]; and the Southwestern version
which almost completely reflects the particular tribal culture involved
[e.g., Navajo] and in which Christianity is quite minimal. In a great many
Native settings, of course, the traditional religions are doing very nicely
in their own right -- and one always finds, too, various Christian
denominations in Indian Country.

Although not an NAC member, I am familiar with the intricate NAC ritual
which begins at dusk on a Saturday night and concludes at dawn on Sunday
morning.

And again, peyote -- "a way to see and feel God" -- is always used with
great respect and under strict controls -- by all Native people.

The onset of FDR's New Deal era in 1933 included the Indian New Deal of John
Collier [backed up always by that most admirable human being, Eleanor
Roosevelt]. A major piece of the Indian New Deal was the reversal of the
generations-old Federal et al. policy -- happily unsuccessful owning to the
stalwart resistance and recalcitrance and tenacity of Indian people -- of
attempted assimilation [designed to break Federal treaty obligations and
secure remaining Indian land and resources.] Instead, the Indian New Deal
took the position -- quite rightly indeed! -- that Native tribal societies
and cultures are viable and vigorous entities which should be safeguarded
and enhanced. As part of this, Collier ended the Federal attacks on Native
religions -- including the Native American Church groups. [Many years later,
the 1978 Indian Religious Freedom Act strengthened all of this.]

But the Peyote Faith continued to face all sorts of trials and
tribulations -- and still does. In the late 1950s, Coconino County [my home
county] authorities out of Flagstaff arrested, on state anti-peyote
charges, a number of Navajo people who were performing a peyote ceremony on
state jurisdiction not far from the Reservation border. But, in 1960, a
local judge ruled in the case -- the Attakai decision -- that peyote use
was permissible because these were Indians using peyote for religious
purposes.

A major peyote case developed in North Dakota in 1984 -- in which I was
very deeply involved. State authorities seized John Warner [an Anglo] and
his wife, Frances [ a Mexican-American] on the Devils Lake Sioux Reservation
[Ft Totten], [now called the Spirit Lake Sioux] and confiscated a large
quantity of peyote from their home.

But these were the realities:

Both John [Jack] Warner -- who had been raised on the Reservation -- and his
wife were formal members of a local Native American Church congregation.
They had been received into the Church many years before by a prominent
peyote religious leader, Emerson Spider. The large quantity of peyote in
the Warner home was there because the Warners had been formally designated
by the Sioux congregation as the Keepers of the Sacrament.

Caught up in the Reagan drug/witch-hunt, Federal authorities immediately
took the case away from the state attorney general [a man less reactionary
than he was just plain ignorant], and charged the Warners with various
Federal felony crimes. They were released, against Federal wishes, on their
own recognizance. Mrs Warner was immediately fired from her state job as an
alcohol and drug counselor.

I -- the only Native professor at University of North Dakota [Grand
Forks] -- heard about this bizarre situation right away. I immediately
called the US Attorney, Rodney Webb, who was responsible. I had our very
capable Indian Studies secretary of that era, Carol Gourneau [Turtle
Mountain Chippewa] on another phone -- and Webb had one of his assistants on a
second phone on his end. We fought for an hour -- Carol often saying
through the years that she had never known before that how angry I could
get. I pointed out to Webb, again and again, that this was a gross
violation of the First Amendment, an obvious violation of the 1970 Federal
Drug Control Act which specifically exempts the religious use of peyote
[and says nothing about race], a clear violation of the Indian Religious
Freedom Act of 1978.

His position was that the Warners were non-Indian and had no right to use
peyote at any time or in any setting. [Mrs Warner, of course, as a person of
Mexican descent had obvious Indian ancestry.]

I told this US Attorney that he was putting the Federal government in a
position where it was trying to tell a church congregation [the local NAC
group at Ft Totten] just who it could have and not have as members: i.e.,
the US government was seeking to dictate Church membership policy.

He told me, "There are less than 20 people in that church."

And I told him, "Jesus started with fewer."

That ended that. I immediately organized a large defense committee --
Indian and non-Indian -- and served as its coordinator. With the help of an
ever-faithful colleague, Professor Doug Wills [Humanities], we sought and
secured major assistance from the national ACLU. Two courageous local
lawyers entered the fray -- Kevin Spaeth and David Thompson -- and ACLU sent
a top defense lawyer, Jud Golden, from Boulder. We spent weeks preparing the
defense: sought and secured top witnesses nationally -- including the
well-known anthropologist, Omer Stewart, from University of Colorado who,
although an Anglo, was himself an NAC member. A number of prominent Native
religious leaders readily agreed to come.

FBI agents were thick as fleas everywhere.

The Warner trial took place in US District Court at Grand Forks in late
October and early November, 1984. Judge Paul Benson -- who had presided at
Fargo over the Leonard Peltier frameup -- was in charge of this affair. The
prosecution was obviously confident.

The atmosphere -- many, many people [ Warner supporters, media, observers,
curious, witnesses] from all parts of the country -- was probably a little
like the Scopes Trial. Grand Forks was full of Indians. When the jury was
picked, we had twelve Anglos -- half of them Catholic and the other half
Lutheran.

[A faithful observer at the trial was Lisa Carney, then a UND student of
mine, and presently a member of this List.]

The testimony was fascinating -- a major education in Native theologies,
peyote, the Native American Church, conflicting Federal policies. The
testimony given by the Warners was so obviously sincere that even hostile
Judge Benson was visibly taken aback.
And defense constantly reminded the jurors that Catholics and Lutherans take
communion wine as a sacrament.


When the Jury received the case, they stayed out only long enough to get
supper-on-the-Feds. They then came back with a Not Guilty.

It was one of Rodney Webb's very few defeats. The Federal government, it
turned out, had spent a quarter of a million trying to convict the
Warners -- and the defense spent about half that [and was duly compensated
by the government.] Later, when prosecutor Webb was nominated for a Federal
judgeship, we strongly opposed this -- but got little support from a pliant US
Senate.

I wrote extensively about the Warner case in an article -- "Their Long
Travail" -- which was published by Liberty: A Magazine of Religious Freedom
[May/June 1986.]

We also helped Mrs Warner bring suit to regain her state job as an alcohol and
drug counselor. A conservative Federal judge, Pat Conmy [a Reagan appointee],
ruled in her favor -- but we lost at the Circuit level and lacked the resources
to carry the case to the US Supreme Court.

The Warners survived. It was tough for them -- but the basic victory was
sweet.

Since then, although it remains on pretty safe ground, there have been new
legal conflicts around peyote -- but this great sacrament, always used
carefully under very controlled circumstances in the Native religious
settings -- continues to bring as many as 300,000 Native people in the United
States "very close to God."

Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
 

HUNTER GRAY  [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]   Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
 and Ohkwari'
 
Check out our Hunterbear website Directory http://hunterbear.org/directory.htm
[The site is dedicated to our one-half Bobcat, Cloudy Gray:
http://hunterbear.org/cloudy_gray.htm

 
See Forces and Faces Along the Activist Trail:  http://hunterbear.org/forces_and_faces_along_the_trail.htm
And, with "fire season" looming, http://hunterbear.org/forest_fires_in_the_west.htm