ABSOLUTELY -- WELL, SOMEWHAT -- HERETICAL THOUGHTS  [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR] -- A NUMBER OF POSTS --  [HUNTER BEAR]

 

The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of Nebraska Press.
 
 
The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me: "On The River Of No Return."  This is, in many ways,  a large, additional chapter [about 9500 words] which up-dates Mississippi, discusses our family's always interesting experiences since the first edition of JM appeared in 1979, and contains supplemental autobiographical material.  And, of course, it also contains something of my reflections as a life-long social justice organizer.
http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Jackson-Mississippi,674910.aspx
 

This page contains a mix of a sampling of our best and more recent posts -- all with a social justice focus.

 

FIGHTING SYSTEMIC LUPUS FOR EIGHT YEARS AND WINNING  (WITH A FEW BASIC REFLECTIONS ON EXTRATERRESTRIALS AND OUR ENCOUNTER EXPERIENCES THEREWITH (HUNTER GRAY  JULY 21 2011)
 
This is going to a few people significantly interested in a sensible approach to UFO/ET matters and also to a few friends whose minds are commendably open on that score.  At this point, I am not inclined personally to waste time on the Gloom and Doomers -- or on Mindless Skeptics. 
 
This is a rather brief summary of our thoughts and stance on Extraterrestrial close encounters and involvement.  Our position on this has not changed since our [my oldest son and I] first conscious -- conscious -- involvement with ETs in 1988.  In a fairly extensive and reflective paper of mine, written two years ago and not yet published by me, I give our position in trenchant and direct fashion:
 
"We see the ETs  as People -- not angels, devils, psychic phenomena, or time
travelers.  And whatever their developmental processes, we see them as
people very much like ourselves.  It seems very probable that they long ago,
with respect to their social / political system or systems, worked out a
sensible balance between collective and individual well-being, drawing from
the best of the group and from the best of individual creativity.  A
significant indication that their ethos is not authoritarian lies in
occasional reports by "encountered humans" of disagreements between crew
members and leaders.  More to the point, they could never have accomplished
that which they've attained and are attaining if theirs was a totalitarian
or "hive" super-collective mentality -- or individualistic in a cut-throat
sense.  They are distinctive, individual personalities, working together.  I
cannot resist injecting the time-honored principle of "tribal
responsibility" -- i.e., the group has an obligation to the individual and
the individual to the group; and where, in the event of a conflict, the
group's well-being comes first -- but where there are also clearly defined
areas of individual and family autonomy into which the group cannot intrude.
Faithful adherance to those specific principles has enabled Native American
tribal societies, cultures, and people to survive the past several very,
very difficult centuries.

We see the ETs as non-threatening  -- indeed, friendly -- but, given the
turbulent nature of our planet, understandably cautious.  It's obvious that,
in a number of respects including technology, they are "ahead" of us.  If
they wished, they could easily subjugate and exploit our earth and our
people -- probably could have long, long ago.  [But why indeed would any
rational entitity -- and the ETs are obviously quite rational -- want to
assume the management of this notoriously problematic planet?]

We see these encounters as comparatively selective, unusual, but not
especially rare.  In the years since 1988, I have dialogued extensively with
probably 200 or so individuals who have had experiences comparable to our
own and whose friendly perceptions are similar.  These make up a good cross
section with respect to race, ethnicity, culture, social class.

Assimilating all that we've experienced and learned, it seems highly
probable that the ETs are involved in a long-term sensitization project,
designed to acquaint us of earth with the nearby presence of friendly ET
life.  By World War II and its immediate aftermath and the beginning of our
experience with nuclear matters, much of the human race was well along the
trail of "readiness" for at least something of an awareness of the ETs.  We
could and certainly can now, in many cases, conceive of travel and life in
outer space. This perception of ours is increasing rapidly. . . .

And, however awkwardly and painfully [to put it mildly], our human values
and our social consciousness and sensitivity are steadily improving in such
areas as race and ethnicity and inter-cultural relations  -- and in a
recognition of the importance of peaceful and harmonious relationships at
every level of human society.

The ETs have every good and rational reason to develop on our part, with
whatever deliberate pace, a friendly awareness of their friendly existence
as we move slowly toward substantive entry into outer space.

And, ultimately, as the Streams of Life inevitably do, we will have open and
friendly contact with the ETs, productive communication, and mutually
beneficial exchange of experiences and knowledge.

We all, the ETs and ourselves, have much indeed -- rich and valuable -- to
offer each other.

And speaking as someone who has spent his life so far on the organizing and
educational social justice fronts -- frequently from the perspective of race
and ethnic relations and often under extraordinarily difficult conditions -- 
I am very well aware of how fast inter-personal and social barriers can fall
when participants are willing to see each other as fellow offspring in a
vast  and friendly Creation; and to recognize the great and wonderful
Promise thereof and therein.

I still see and savor the great and shining vistas of the high mountains and
deep canyons.

But now, I also see far, far Beyond.

And I know that no intelligent life, however far and away, is alien to me -- 
or to any of us."
 
As most know, I have now, 2011, completely defeated an extremely serious version of Systemic Lupus, genetic and hereditary, which struck me full scale in 2003. It's formally considered to be a "deadly" disease for which there is no cure.  In fact, its genetic basis, still not delineated with any precision, may very well involve parts of at least 12 interrelated genes in an extraordinarily complex arrangement. [While one is tempted to say, "Find'em and gouge them out," I suspect that could wreck a person's entire system.]  Initially, I was not expected by most to survive and then it was felt that the best cut of the cards I could get would simply be some "control" of the disease in the context of a drab existence.  But I am a natural fighter and my allies -- "seen" and "unseen" -- have played an enduring and significant role on my behalf.
 
By 2009 and 2010, however, it was clear that "something" very positive was occurring within me.  We delayed a final victory statement until very extensive blood tests this past spring -- reflected by nine pages of detailed lab reports -- indicated there was no active Lupus within me -- and that my much ravaged organs were in excellent shape.  This is discussed in our website page, "Shooting Lupus" which gives full credit to, among other factors, our friendly ET encounters which, as most of you are aware, involved beneficial medical work with our endrocrine glands:  pituitary, thyroid, thymus.  Some recipients of this have seen most of the material on that page -- but I have feathered it out somewhat.  Included in the page are the links to Ms. Virginia Aaronson's Celestial Healing studies  and my two related web pages on our UFO/ET encounters.  Our website link for "Shooting Lupus" is  http://hunterbear.org/shooting_lupus.htm
 
I expect to have more to say in due course on ET matters and much more.  I always do! 
 
With best personal wishes,
 
Hunter Bear

COMMENTS:

JYRI KOKKONEN (FINLAND):
 
Dear Hunter,
Considering the recently emerging discoveries of more and more stars in our Milky Way galaxy that are orbited by planets capable of supporting conditions for life as known on our planet, we should, at the least, keep an open mind in these matters. Add to that the possibility of life in other forms in environments that are toxic in Earth terms* and expand the whole idea to the innumerable galaxies beyond ours, the case for human uniqueness kind of withers. Not to mention the possibility that our technologies just might not be the cutting edge in a far bigger setting.
A look at the sky on a clear night easily brings many of these things to mind, as it has for countless generations of people.
 
The Drake Equation on the probability (roughly put) of the existence of intelligent communicating civilizations within our galaxy has been criticized as simplistic, and the attached link to a Drake-inspired "ETI calculator" might be a bit naive, but I find it nonetheless fascinating to play with the numbers:
 
http://www.activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/SETI/drake_equation.html
 
Eagerly expecting more on the ET subject.
 
Jyri
 
*As suggested by discoveries of life existing in volcanic ocean-bottom environments here on earth.
 
 
JOHN SIME:
 
"And I know that no intelligent life, however far and away, is alien to me -- 
or to any of us."
 
I've always loved that thought from you, and I think of it often.  jhs
 
 
KATHY MARDEN:
 
 Dear Hunter,
 
It was so nice to hear from you that you are doing well.
 
I received some very good news today. Several years ago, I petitioned the State of NH to erect a historical marker for Betty and Barney Hill. I was informed 2-3 months ago that the funding had been approved. Today I received a photo of the marker that has been erected on Route 3 in North Lincoln, NH, only one mile north of the close encounter field. It is in front of the Indian Head Resort.
 
Best wishes,
 
Kathy Marden
 
 
SCOTT COLBORN:
 
Hello Hunter,
 
Thank you as always for sharing your thoughts and ideas - given your own personal experiences in labor and civil rights and your personal experiences with regard to ET's.  We humans try to limit the creation of God; and we occasionally can hear the gentle loving laughter from that Creator source.  Patient in our growth and forgiving of our faults and wrong choices.
 
If you haven't published this yet via facebook, I'd like to do so.  If you have, I'll find it on your page and share with my friends and colleagues.
 
Always a distinct pleasure to open my e-mail and hear from you.  Your presence is always welcome on my radio program as well, Hunter.  I'm booking November and December (Saturdays 10 am - 12 noon Central Time) as I write this.  I know you keep busy; I'd always look forward to having you again as a guest on the Exploring Unexplained Phenomena program.
 
Kathleen Marden is my guest this Saturday; she recalled in an e-mail coming to Lincoln, NE, years ago for a conference and hearing you speak.  She enjoyed the lecture and the conference as well.
 
My son Asher is upstairs napping - he's detassling in this severe heat and humidity in the Lincoln, NE, area.  A tough guy.  I'm out the door to mow now - it's today or next week so I'll soak my floppy brim hat in water and go out and endure and get the job done.
 
Peace always !  Scott
 
 
DAVID NELSON:
 
 "Excellent note! Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed it."
 

DANNY SHONERD: 

 
"Great!"

 
ALTA BRUCE:
 
I Love the article! You have as my professor inspired me and still do. I'm so thankful the Creator put you and your family in my pathway of this life.
 

DONNA SEEBO  (VIA SCOTT COLBORN):

 
Hi Scott,

What a powerful statement by Hunter…does he do interviews, have a book?  His wisdom is deeply perceptive.

Have a fabulous weekend.

Thank you for keeping in touch.

 

JEFF DANELEK  (VIA SCOTT COLBORN):

Hi Scott
 
Thanks for sending this along. I find myself in agreement with much of it and consider it to be, indeed, a good, rational position. (Curious how the people who happen to agree with me are always the most rational, isn’t it?) Do you think Hunter Gray would appreciate it if I contacted him directly with a few comments?
 
Jeff
 
(P.S. This might be good fodder for our interview on the 6th.)
 
(P.P.S. I’ll be appearing on the Discovery Channel season 3 opener Ancient Aliens on July 28th in an episode entitled Aliens and the Old West. Might be your chance to see what I look like when I’m not resting in my coffin.)
 
 
ROXANNA WOODS  (VIA SCOTT COLBORN):
 
Wow.  Thanks for sharing, Scott!  This really shows truth!
Peace,
Roxanna

FROM HUNTER BEAR DURING A SEPTEMBER 8 2011 DISCUSSION ON REDBADBEAR LIST:

In a way, Sam's obviously quick comment early this morning about "alien visitation" came out as a sidebar chide -- even though I certainly doubt it was meant in that fashion.  I responded briefly to that but I'll respond just a little more.
 
Sam takes that which his friend saw at 9-11 as accurate. Fine.  He knows his friend well and has for some time.  Friends who know John and myself well over time have had no problem at all accepting our account of our ET experiences.
 
Vehement skeptics on this issue strike me as just plain mindless, if not afraid -- and, increasingly, I spend little or no time with them.  Their focus is Against something. That's the antithesis of "frontier" exploration.  No amount of evidence, however well grounded, is ever enough for them.
 
I have a great deal of faith in Science -- but not in the exclusionary sense exhibited by some [not all] secular materialists and "scientific fundamentalists".  These folk strike me as using the equivalent of an old 36" yardstick to "measure" and "assess" a vast totality of complexity beyond our comprehension -- which, as per our efforts and those of other forces, is a very, very slowly unfolding one.  But that process is never completed.
 
Sam opines that ET matters have no political consequences.  That's likely officially true in the public sense at this point.  But that could and will change. An extremely significant frontier ahead of us all will not only be in space -- in the "empty" sense -- but in overcoming our human ethnocentrism [and fear] in our relationships with intelligent life Out There.
 
Here's a very apt comment sent to me a few weeks ago by Jyri Kokkonen, our good Finnish correspondent.  [Hunter]
 
 

BRIEF THOUGHTS ON HUMAN CHALLENGES: OLD TIME, NOW, FUTURE   (HUNTER GRAY   AUGUST 2 2011)
 

Like a great many, I've spent some time observing the dismal events in DC. (I am spending much of my time now in planning a long future -- in some detail.)  My personal and jaundiced position on the current political situation is pretty well known and I see little purpose in going over it at this point.  Posting in general appears fairly minimal on most discussion lists.
 
My post the other day involving Loki Mulholland's two blog posts on his mother, Joan; myself and Eldri; and the Woolworth Sit-In did draw a few good comments from our lists.  More good comments came from off-list sources. One, from a committed advocate for people: "Hunter, this is great stuff.  I don't know if I have ever told you, but when I'm trying to advocate for something or somebody, I try to envision how you would handle the situation.  You've been very inspirational for me, and I am very proud to know you.  Thank you."
 
Well, I've learned some good things from him.  And there were comments from former Tougaloo College students, one of whom -- a hard working young lady in our Jackson Boycott [which led quickly and directly to the massive Jackson Movement] -- wrote:
 
"Thanks for sharing. I agree with Loki's assessment of you and all the others who sat in @ Woolworth's in Jackson 50 yrs. ago. You all were brave & courageous individuals.
You're certainly one of greatest story tellers that I have ever had the privilege of knowing. I can still picture and hear you telling stories in Social Science & History classes in the basement of Galloway Hall @ Tougaloo. AND I remember how you chain - smoked those non-filtered cigarettes as you held our attn. when you spoke about Native- Americans, Arizona, bears, etc. (lol).
Stay well."
 
Four packs of Pall Malls a day -- and, as the Jackson Movement rose and roiled, five cheeseburgers and a pitcher of ice water whenever time allowed.
 
At Tougaloo, as in many other small college situations, you often found yourself teaching outside your academic field.  My M.A. was in Sociology -- but my B.S. was in Social Studies and that included 70 semester hours in several fields and encompassed what amounted to a history major.
 
All of that came in right handy at Tougaloo, a few miles north of Jackson Mississippi, where I found myself in a number of "specialties", including "World Civilization."  And it was in "American Government", only a few days after Eldri and I arrived at Tougaloo in the late summer of 1961, that a student [and quickly a fine friend and colleague to this moment], Colia Liddell, and now Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark, asked me to become Advisor to the North Jackson Youth Council of NAACP.  Deeply honored, I quickly agreed -- politely brushing aside well meant warnings from some fellow faculty members that I was courting a great deal of personal trouble.
 
Well, there was that for sure -- Big Trouble in many directions -- and we all wouldn't have missed any of it for all the world.
 
It was a challenge teaching World Civilization in Galloway Hall -- especially in the afternoon when the sun came through the windows and, sans any air conditioning, some students, despite their best efforts, grew sleepy.  For my part, I tied as much subject matter as I could to the contemporary challenges in Mississippi and the South in general.  We tagged The Pharaoh as Governor Ross Barnett, Moses and Jesus as civil rights organizers, and much and many more in that vein. (And, if all else failed, I could always stir up a great discussion around Evolution.)
 
And it wasn't long before we were building a Movement that shook Jackson and environs to their roots -- and contributed mightily to the rapidly growing Civil Rights River that was flooding and nourishing Dixie and much of the Nation.  And many of us indeed have traveled "far and away" on that Great Water.
 
That took, from all of us, sensibly altruistic Vision, hard grassroots Work, a great deal of Courage.
 
Those dimensions seem presently in short supply in many quarters of this country. 
 
But the Cosmic trails are always firm -- and Spring will come again.
 
Keep Fighting,
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
 
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'
 

SOME COMMENT:

 
Mary Ann Hall Williams:
 
AMEN !!!! Right on.  WWW,
Mary Ann
 
("WWW" means We Will Win -- motto of the Jackson Movement)
 
 
Cleveland Donald:
 
Hunter:
 
Great and quite moving reflections.  Keep going.   I hope that Colia is well.
 
Cleveland
 
 

"Blue Sapphire":

 
Thank you as always for your wonderful screeds. They are as almost as awesome as your actions.
 
 

Further comment by Hunter -- in response to some discussion:

 
From the perspective within Dixie, civil rights workers were pretty much on their own -- even after the passage of the '64 Civil Rights Act and the '65 Voting Rights Act.  The Eisenhower approach was hands off at best. We were in the hardcore South from 1961 into 1967 and what I saw during the JFK and LBJ administrations became "better" only under tremendous grassroots pressure and then at a slow pace until well after the mid-60s.  The Justice Department was  usually very slow to act [if it acted at all] and the FBI, then as now, was an adversary.  Media coverage did become better, though selectively, as the '60s progressed but rarely got into the "shadowy, out of the way places" that characterize much of Dixie -- until tragedy had occurred and not always then.  In the early '60s, the mainline American "establishment" was usually pretty remote.  Part of that changed as the Movement burgeoned -- but many of the liberals were very fickle allies.  In the end, and it seems to be an eternal fact, the grassroots and bona fide organizers powered the "engine" of substantive social change. 
 
True, there are people -- young and old -- who right now are doing their best. And much of it is good work.  But, as witness the anemic peace movement as simply one of many examples, there are not enough.   We certainly agree on that!  Hopefully, that will change as the times, increasingly, demand urgent and significant social justice.
 
Best,
 
Hunter
 

STILL HERE: SANGUINARY SKIES AND ALL [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR - MAY 21, 2011]

Decades ago, a buddy and I, traveling in my old Chev station wagon, left Casper, Wyoming in the evening traveling east on a main highway [two lane, of course, as they almost all were in those days.] Although winter, there was little snow.  Acting on youthful inspiration [some of which I still retain], we decided to take in the Black Hills and, in addition, follow my shortcut instincts and turn off on a reasonably well traveled ranch dirt road pointing vaguely northeastward.  We were on that lonely trek for close to three hours -- and at least four barb wire cattle gates -- and it was very, very dark.  But our faith in ourselves continued unabated  and finally -- finally -- we saw a couple of lonely cars rushing along a highway a few miles to the east.  We entered that and then, almost immediately, saw the lights of a small town well ahead to the north.  Turned out to be tiny Newcastle, Wyoming, with a Best Western Motel, right on the edge of the Hills.  Neither of us ever admitted it but I think we were both relieved.
 
But I wasn't especially surprised when I awoke this morning at 3:30 a.m., looked out the window, and saw the lights of Pocatello on the other side of the Valley.  Things were intact world-wise -- so far, so good.  Of course, the End is supposed to commence at 4 p.m. "our time" -- Mountain Time.  But, really, I'm not worried.  Before I turned in last night, I quipped that the End isn't in our Catholic Missal and I don't think it's in the Book of Mormon, either.  More to my serious, personal point, I can't recall any appropriate Native prophecies with a precise chronological fix. [The sometimes touted Mayan one might be the closest -- but I'm inclined to take that symbolically.]
 
But this early morning did put me in mind of very early January 1, 2000.  Back in that  comparatively halcyon time, Bill Clinton's FBI Director, Louis Freeh, had been publicly warning for months that the time turn-over into the New Century might well produce massive computer breakdowns and, simultaneously, a huge militia upsurge -- especially in the West.  Well, there were militias in those days [as there are a few nowadays], almost all of them rather pathetic wannabee "soldiers",  and almost all of them quite harmless except to the earth and grass and trees.  A very few were genuinely dangerous -- the Oklahoma City bombing was tragically real.  But then and now, I and many others suspect that the Freeh obsession with militias had a lot to do with Clinton's high priority attack on firearms and firearm owners generally, despite the fact that most of the latter, then and now, scorn militia play-games.
 
So, when I looked out my window in the very early hours of the New Century, and saw -- unsurprisingly -- the lights of Poky, heard NO gunfire off yonder anywhere, noted my computer was essentially fine -- I just went back to sleep. Louis Freeh carried on into Bush 2 but dropped the militia thing at that point and began talking about radical anarchists and such.
 
And then came The One Big Menace, much inflated but with some clearly threatening facets, that's still with us -- and that's now led to the new "Peace President's" three wars in Muslim countries, continued domestic repression, and the extension of the Patriot Act -- lineal descendant of Bill Clinton's militia-focused Anti-Terrorism Act.
 
This morning, I didn't go back to sleep.  Poured a cup of strong black coffee and a glass of cold pure mountain water and lit my tobacco pipe.  First thing I saw was a fill-in "short" on Turner Classic Movies.  It was a 1950s state police training film, obviously set in California, with a focus on tear gas usage.  Although one segment involved conventional holed-up outlaws, the most interesting piece was the usage of the Gas on simulated strikers in front of a U.S. Steel property.  The strike leader was played by a very dark Chicano-type with a waving fist and a truly "hateful" face.  Tear gas took care of all of that with dispatch. [Sort of like driving insects off with DDT.]
 
Well, the class struggle hasn't changed an iota since then save perhaps to recently get much "sharper" -- nor have its basic components for Good [strikes and demonstrations] and for Evil [police and corporate repression.]  It was encouraging to read the Nation piece [via Portside] which indicates AFL-CIO now plans to shift much of its heretofore political action dinero into direct organizing at the points of production.  Well,  a great many of us -- including myself -- have advocated that for a very, very long time indeed.  Let's hope it actually happens. [I did, of course, renew my UAW/National Writers Union dues the other day for yet another year.]
 
I don't think the Creator -- and Its many entities such as Jerusalem Slim [Jesus] -- are going to let this human-messed old World off with any smooth and fast and easy exit. The lights of Newcastle and Pocatello still glow.  We're going to be around for a long, long time and the urgency and the Call of the Save the World Business remains high in the global skies -- often skies of sanguinary red -- and the New World calls from Beyond the Mountains Yonder.
 
In Solidarity,
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]

Thank you for this beautiful, and insightful, piece of writing!  Yes, yes, and yes!  Mom was cute the other day.  She said, "Well, I'm going to Galina for the weekend, so if it's the end of the world...I'll be in Galina."  I hope she has a great weekend.  Today seems to have brought me a sore throat, so I'm going to look to my remedies then go for a walk. 

Have a lovely Saturday!

Susan  (Susan Mary Power, Standing Rock Sioux, noted writer, very old family friend.)

 

BERTIE COUNTY,  NORTH CAROLINA [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR]   SPRING 2011

Like a vast number of people in this country and, I'm sure, many globally, I've been watching with chilled fascination the effects of the Great Tornado Horror that's hit Kansas and Oklahoma down into Dixie and up the eastern seaboard into the Carolinas and Virginia.  Jackson, Mississippi, of course, we know well -- and I could recognize a locale or two -- and the same with some areas just to the north of there: fringes of the Tougaloo community and the newer suburbs reaching toward Canton.  The same with North Carolina, especially at Raleigh where we had once been based for several years, and -- very, very much Bertie County in the Northeastern Black-Belt into which, as with other counties in that region, we had carried our civil rights organizing campaign in the mid-1960s widely and successfully.
 
Bertie [it's pronounced Burr-Tee] has suffered horrible devastation.  The very small town of Colerain ["Coh-Rain"] has been virtually wiped out.  At least a dozen people have died in Bertie, with many  others injured.
 
I'm not a person who cries tears but I've come closer to it when I see the television shots of Bertie County.  Here are just a few of many vivid recollections of around 45 years ago.
 
Bertie is a large county, mostly rural and 70% Black -- with some small Native communities, mostly in the White Oak Swamp area.  It's still dominated economically by planters and very small town businesspeople and, in the mid-60s, it was one of the ten most economically poor counties in the United States.  There was virtually no industry back then and there's little now. It was old Tuscarora Indian country and a major base for that Iroquoian nation but, around 1715,  most of the Tuscarora removed to upstate New York and became the sixth nation of the Iroquois Confederacy.  But some remained in their traditional places in North Carolina and still remain. 
 
Back in the '60s, in my day, a state official in Raleigh had been publicly quoted as saying that, "Going to Bertie County is going into the 1700s."
 
When we began our North Carolina Black Belt campaign [I was Field Organizer for SCEF -- the Southern Conference Educational Fund], we started in Halifax County -- well to the west of Bertie.  It was trench warfare, pure and simple.  That intractably segregated and poverty-ridden county was tightly organized against any modicum of social change -- Klan, Birch Society, North Carolina Defenders of States Rights [the N.C. affiliate of the white Citizens Councils.]  With a whirlwind of grassroots meetings in Black and Indian communities, boycotts and demonstrations, we produced a massive voter registration drive which -- following violence at the polls and economic reprisals -- resulted in our winning a sweeping voter rights victory in Federal Court in Raleigh.  The result of that was the registration of thousands of Blacks, and many Indians as well, for the first time since Reconstruction. [This was a year before the passage of the Voting Rights Act in1965.]  Other Halifax victories followed --the county was essentially broken in a year, though we had mop-up-- and the news of all of this spread into other Black Belt counties which well fit well into our longer-term multi-county organization goal.
 
And I found myself speaking, as I had in the Halifax campaign, sometimes three times a night but now in churches in different counties.  While we sowed the seeds of activist organization in those, I concentrated the primary thrust of our efforts on a county by county basis.  Things moved fast and productively. 
 
In an effort to spread "the word" even further, we organized a very large scale Civil Rights and Anti-Poverty Conference to be held at the Indian Woods Baptist Church, in early March, 1965, out in a rural setting, in Bertie -- into which we had not yet entered officially.  The conference was extremely well publicized over much of northeast/east  North Carolina -- and I'd lined up a fine array of speakers and workshop leaders. One of those, for the always important freedom music dimension, was my old Arizona friend, Clyde Appleton, then in North Carolina as a music prof -- and currently on our Sycamore and Bear Without Borders discussion lists.  Ms. Ella Baker, a fine friend always and a SCEF staff colleague, was the keynoter.
 
When we arrived at the Indian Woods church about forty-five minutes before the affair was to begin, only the church's committed clergyman's car was in the parking lot.  A large pig was wallowing happily in a nearby mud puddle.  But, as per "Southern Time," a vast number of people, some in rented buses, arrived en masse just a little late.  The conference drew 1,043 people from  14 counties and went from about 10:30 am deep into the night. It was hailed in the region and the state itself as a major success. 
 
At the conclusion of the conference, a key local Bertie leader approached me.  Rev. W.M. Steele was a man of direct statement.  "We want you", he said emphatically, "here in Bertie.  And as fast as you can come." [He had, I learned later, once been a rural school teacher but had been fired for teaching the students the intricacies of math -- and showing them how their sharecropper families were being cheated by the plantation owners at settling-up time.]
 
I was certainly game.  The next day, I met with a Steele and a number of others.  This was the essentially secular dimension.  There was another, mandatory meeting required -- a very important meeting with the religious Elder of the county, a man around 90 years of age. He headed the county-wide Ministerial Alliance.  "We have to meet with him," said Steele, "and he definitely wants to meet you."
 
I had no problem with that. In my black suit and with Steele by my side, I met a few a few days later with the Patriarch.  He sat in a chair, the more senior Bertie clergy adjacent to him, younger clergy a bit further back.  The arrangement and the ethos struck me as tribal.  Steele introduced me -- many of the clergy had been at the Conference -- and I sat in a chair directly in front of the awsome elder who I now saw as the Primary Chieftain.  He looked me over carefully and then, in a not unfriendly fashion, asked me a number of pertinent personal questions, followed by several very apt ones on my organizing approach.  I responded fully.  Then, suddenly, with a huge and warm smile to me, he stood.  We all stood and he extended his hand which I shook.  There was a prayer.
 
Things moved with powerful whirlwind speed in Bertie.  I spoke all over the county and, as formal organization took shape, we effectdively addressed a variety of issues.  The Bertie Klan, not nearly the force it had been in Halifax, tried desperately to mount an offensive, but had to settle for a number of cross-burnings. We clearly had the initiative.
 
A major issue was the refusal by the County Board of Commissioners to approve the entrance of Federal food commodities and the new Federal Food Stamp Program into the county.  The planters wanted neither for obvious reasons -- primarily to keep the sharecroppers down and totally dependent -- and the urban merchants, such as they were, while not wanting commodities, did want -- for commercial reasons -- the food stamps.
 
We organized close to six hundred sharecroppers, Black -- and some Tuscaroras from the swamp country -- and marched through the small county seat of Windsor to the courthouse on the day the commissioners met.  This had been preceded by our written demand notification to them: we wanted both commodities and stamps. And we also told them that we were coming in numbers.  [The U.S. Department of Agriculture was amenable to both programs concurrently in especially needy counties.]
 
The high sheriff and a few deputies on the courthouse steps watched  us as we marched up and down -- truly a mass -- in front of the courthouse.  Behind the building were many other lawmen -- some regulars, some specially deputized for the occasion.  Finally, the door opened.  A very ancient old white man, a commissioner, came out.  Looking at the hundreds of very dark faces and mine, he asked  -- knowing, of course, very visually precisely who I was -- "Is Mistah John Salter here?"
 
I raised my hand.  "We would like you to come in," he said politely, "and meet with us."
 
"I'll be glad to," I replied, "but we have local leaders who must also come."  He nodded, again politely.
 
Inside, we negotiated for about an hour and a half.  Upshot: the Bertie County Board of Commissioners approved the entrance of both Federal food commodities and the new Federal Food Stamp Program.
 
That was for sure a good day.  And there were many other productive Bertie adventures -- and then we were in Northampton County and some others.
 
All of it worked out very well indeed.
 
So now, as I watch the television shots of death and destruction, I remember.  And, sad into the very marrow of my bones, I know one thing for sure:  those very, very tough Bertie people will never -- ever -- be put down.
 
Here are some interesting photos from the historic Black Belt Conference in Bertie County.  They were taken by our very good friend and colleague, the late J.V. Henry.  http://www.hunterbear.org/a_sampling_of_photos_from.htm
 
And here is our Link to our classic Black-Belt Klan story:  Handling the Klan on Easter Sunday, 1965.  http://hunterbear.org/handling_the_klan_on_easter_sund.htm
 

In Solidarity,

 
Hunter Bear

 

BRIEF THOUGHTS ON ADVERSE PRESSURES ON HIGHER EDUCATION IN THESE TIMES [HUNTER GRAY, MAY 2011]

 

I remember well at least the latter period of the Cold War red scare which was, of course, deeper and broader than any single person such as McCarthy.  And in academia, as elsewhere, it could very ugly and thought-stifling and, with respect to careers, lethal.  There were, as there always are, courageous students and faculty -- but it could be tough going.
 
The present situation nationally, and in academia, falls short of the overtly repressive reach and impact of that openly witch-hunting epoch -- in the general sense.  But there is a slowly, yet increasingly repressive atmosphere with the subtleties and various foci -- local matters and some national ones -- gradually coming into sharper focus.  Coupled with this are widespread cuts in academic budgets and a consequent rise in degree and intensity of internal faculty knifemanship [knifepersonship.]  Tenure is under increasing attack.   Again, there are always courageous students [more of them by far than in the '50s] but, with some commendable exceptions everywhere, faculty tend to play it safe.  Schools considered top-flight are having their internal situations.  In many state colleges and universities, where administrations are often highly political, academic freedom can frequently be precarious even in "normal times". In many of those settings, there may not be dramatic situations only because national media coverage rarely reaches into those quarters and, more basically, because faculty timidity has long ago become part of the institutional culture.
 
Hunter Gray / Hunter Bear
 
 
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'
 

 

BROKEN ARROW BROKE NEW TRAIL -- GOOD TRAIL [HUNTER BEAR/HUNTER GRAY]  DECEMBER 26 2009

 
There's an old Hollywood film which, when it's occasionally run on television, I always see -- sometimes in part, sometimes all the way through. It appeared this morning  It's Broken Arrow [1950], the story of Tom Jeffords, a U.S. Army Scout who, in the Arizona territory of 1870, saw the Apaches as human beings, developed a friendship with a major Apache leader, Cochise, married a young Apache woman, and forged a kind of peace between Cochise and his people -- and most of the Americans. The film follows the actual historical record with, all things considered, reasonable accuracy -- but with the still common fictional modifications that characterize Hollywood's treatment of many subjects. 
 
But, to come quickly to the main point, Broken Arrow could be considered the first pro-Native film of widespread reach ever filmed by Hollywood.
 
Seen by today's yardsticks, Broken Arrow could, I suppose, be viewed as simplistic, maybe even a little hokey. The lead Native figures are played by non-Indians:  Jeff Chandler as Cochise and Debra Paget as Sonseeahray -- with whom Jeffords falls in love and marries via the Apache Way. [She is later killed by Anglo die-hards.]  Jimmy Stewart depicts Jeffords and Jay Silverheels [Mohawk] plays the dissident Geronimo.
 
Broken Arrow was filmed for the greatest part in the Oak Creek Canyon country, close by to Flagstaff, but in a much lower elevation.  It was one of the first films to be made in that beautiful area -- and has been followed by countless others.  The other setting, purely secondary to Oak Creek, is the film town of Old Tucson near that then rather small [but not now] major city of the state.
 
The filming occurred mostly in 1949, while the Big Snow that had hit the high country [Flagstaff got 17 feet in two or three weeks and more followed] was beginning to melt.  A fair number of Navajo people were used in the film -- something that almost immediately began to disturb the considerable racist Anglo component in Flagstaff.  When they learned, soon enough, that the film was really quite pro-Indian, they became increasingly vocal in their hostility. There was no violence, such as occurred in the making of Salt of the Earth in not-far-away southwestern New Mexico in 1953-54 -- but the level of hostility at Flag was high.  This was much less true at well-integrated Flagstaff High where I was a keenly observant sophomore and, as the controversy went on, a junior.
 
[Will Geer, the Salt sheriff plays an Anglo rancher in Broken Arrow.  The main screen writer was Albert Maltz, black-listed in Hollywood by the House Un-American Activities Committee and thus never credited for his fine work for Broken Arrow.  Geer was soon to become a black-list victim -- and so was Salt of the Earth.]
 
In those days, Phoenix was a 12 hour drive from Flagstaff [now, sadly, it's less than three], and the Hollywood film folk bought many supplies at Flagstaff.  That economic fact softened some -- but only some  -- of the pervasive hostility which reached the point of an effort to prevent the film, when it was completed, from playing in town.  When Broken Arrow was close to heading out to the world in 1950, it became known that it was scheduled to play forthwith at our primary theatre, The Orpheum. [The other movie house in town, Lyric, was a dive.]  Opponents of Broken Arrow, at Flag and environs, called on "white people" to boycott the movie.  At that point, Platt Cline, owner and editor of the daily paper, Arizona Daily Sun -- and more than just a "moderate" on racial matters -- ran an editorial suggesting that people simply see the film and draw their own conclusions.  He pointed out that Broken Arrow could be considered, in a very real sense, "our film" -- since it involved Oak Creek country and Navajos.  That netted Platt, a good friend of my parents, quite a number of hostile letters,  He didn't give a damn, printed some of them.
 
Flagstaff was pretty pervasively racist -- one of the reasons our family lived in outlying parts.  It wasn't the total segregation complex of the Deep South and there were interesting diversities that warrant a long article in their own right. The high school, as I've noted, was thoroughly integrated: Anglo, Chicano, Native, Black, Chinese.  There was a small Black elementary school.  Some restaurants served only Anglos and I remember outside signs, "No Indians Or Dogs Allowed"; a few also served Chicanos and Indians and Orientals; no mainline eating places served the small Black community which had, of course, developed its own places which would serve everyone.
 
The low-brow Lyric Theatre --  kind of awful in retropect -- would serve anyone, sit wherever you wished.  The Orpheum had a large balcony where Blacks had to sit.  "Others", whoever they were, could sit downstairs or in the balcony -- whatever they wished.  On the other hand, most Chicanos and almost all Natives preferred to sit in the much friendlier balcony -- where our family always sat and where the price was a bit lower and, frankly, the view much better.
 
Broken Arrow came to Flagstaff as scheduled -- in its first release wave. I and my multi-ethnic group of buddies were there, almost at the head of the line.  We were far from the only ones.  The Orpheum was literally packed brimful -- balcony and downstairs.  In the end, it played at Flag for a number of days -- much longer than its original scheduling.
 
And it always drew bumper audiences.
 
As nearly as I and my family and my friends could tell, almost everyone in the throngs who viewed it, liked it very much -- fascinated in many cases. And almost from the first showing onward, the bitterly hostile comments by the die-hards who would eventually die but never surrender, were muted, no longer public.
 
Broken Arrow didn't turn Flag into the "beloved community" -- not a chance of that -- but it was a very significant step for everyone, and a source of considerable pride for Indian people.  Years later, in the '60s, I gave a fairly long speech at Flagstaff which had changed somewhat for the better, still to this moment an on-going process.  My talk was well attended by a wide variety of people and, in the course of it, I mentioned Broken Arrow.  I was pleased that that struck a note of positive resonance with almost all adults present. They well recalled the hassle and its aftermath.
 
So when, as it occasionally does, appear on television -- and I spot it -- I always greet Broken Arrow with good words and thoughts, thank it, and wish it and our Cause, very well indeed.
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
 
A LONG TALK AND A LONG WALK, BACK AND FORTH THROUGH TIME  [HUNTER BEAR/HUNTER GRAY --  SUMMER, 2009]
 
Yesterday around these parts -- as has been the case for weeks -- we've had extremely heavy rain.  Record-setting and the whole region is under a serious flash-flood watch.  Up here on our Idaho hill we are, of course, "high and dry"  with a large blooming green yard area and the ever-imperialistic Russian Olive tree [only one of our many trees] moving again to try to envelop our house.  Josie [our youngest] and Cameron and Baby Aiden ["Exit"] were in the nearby small town of Inkom which was inundated with flash flood stuff but were on higher ground at Cameron's aunt's home -- and eventually got back to Pocatello.  Last night, my great Cat, the indefatigable Sky Gray awakened me as usual around 2 a.m.  There is some question as to whether she sees me as a playmate or a plaything but her singular attention and devotion to me are infinite. [I am sure this strikes a considerable note of resonance with the several Cat people on some of these lists, e.g., David McReynolds, Sam Friedman, and Lois Chaffee.]
 
Intermixed with all of this, was a very long and excellent phone visit with Cleveland Donald, Jr. who called from the East Coast where he's a Black Studies -- and also Caribbean -- professor at a large university.  And, at the same time, he's a busy clergyman.  It was a time machine kind of conversation -- laced with dramatic Mississippi episodes and the names of old friends, some still with us, some gone, and some -- like murdered Medgar Evers -- long gone.  Cleveland  was one of the first Jackson kids I met when I assumed the role of "Adult Advisor" of the then tiny -- about nine members -- North Jackson NAACP Youth Council at the end of the summer of 1961 soon after we came to Tougaloo College.  At that time, he was 14, a serious guy who, when he visited us at Tougaloo, often became engrossed in Eldri's several books on philosophy -- some of which she subsequently gave him.
 
Meeting in semi-clandestine fashion in an old church in the northern part of Jackson, the Youth Council grew steadily, carried out manageable and effective single-issue civil rights thrusts, and in the early fall of 1962, numbered several dozen stalwarts -- ranging in age from nine years into the early 'twenties. Most were in high school. Early on we ditched and ignored -- with Medgar Evers' [NAACP field secretary] quiet approval the requirement by the National NAACP office that all Youth Council  members anywhere had to belong formally to the NAACP.  At the same time, the Youth Council began to stimulate student activism at Tougaloo College -- then a few miles north of Jackson.  I met regularly with the North Jackson kids at the church and many began coming to our home on the Tougaloo campus.  Lots of Tougaloo students also came to our place -- and the Salter home became known to Magnolia friends and foes alike as "Salter's coffee house."  The activist dream of a widespread multi-issue economic boycott of downtown Jackson -- with the longer range vision of widespread and massive nonviolent direct action focused on even more issues -- began with the Youth Council but very early on sparked great good fire at Tougaloo.  Thus in that fall of '62, we planned the Jackson Boycott and its increasingly possible large scale direct action connotations with almost militaristic precision. [Given the state of militarism today, I would use the very apt term, "Iroquoian organizational methodology" -- very systematic, carefully and reasonably structured, democratic.]  Through all of this, Cleveland was a major stalwart.
 
On our discussion lists, Lois Chaffee, Joan Mulholland, and Steve Rutledge join me [and Cleveland] with those forever engraved-in-our-minds images of those truly Great -- and extraordinarily dangerous -- times. They certainly and personally know the score.
 
We launched the Jackson Boycott on December 12, 1962, when Eldri [my spouse] and I and four Black students picketed the Woolworth store on downtown Capitol Street. It was the first civil rights picket in the city's history. We were immediately arrested by between 75 and 100 of Jackson's huge all-White police force. The hysterical reaction by the power structure and news media gave us the publicity we needed.  Concurrently, North Jackson and Tougaloo students began what became months of heavy sub-rosa boycott leafleting in the Black neighborhoods, and speaking appearances at Black churches began in earnest.  The Youth Council flowered out with hundreds of youthful supporters and there was great activism from Tougaloo -- where Eldri emerged as the Adult Advisor to the Tougaloo NAACP Chapter.  In the meantime, we all welcomed support from those -- not really that many in Jackson itself at that time -- involved with other civil rights organizational perspectives.
 
The saga of the Jackson Boycott Movement and its emergence into the massively non-violent Jackson Movement -- in the face of the most brutal and often bloody repression by hordes of "lawmen" and vigilante Klan types is covered in great detail, along with many collateral matters, in my own book, Jackson Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle and Schism. http://hunterbear.org/jackson.htm  We also have a number of Hunterbear website pages on our wild -- but always well organized -- crusade -- out on one of the most dramatic of "social frontiers."
 
At one point, at the end of May 1963, hundreds of Youth Council members and supporters gathered at Farish Street Baptist Church.  After various speeches, they formed into a developing mass march and -- as they moved out onto Farish Street, pointed toward the downtown area -- Cleveland was at the very front rank.  He gave me a huge smile.  The marchers were confronted by hundreds of Mississippi lawmen of various kinds who clubbed many, threw the "subversive" American flags carried by some marchers into the gutters of Farish street, and loaded the hundreds of demonstrators into a long fleet of dirty, filthy garbage trucks -- carrying them to the Mississippi State Fairgrounds concentration camp on the edge of Jackson.  Standing on Farish Street, Medgar Evers and I watched this display of the highest courage and the essence of rank brutality, and Medgar -- a veteran of the late War's European theatre -- commented,
 
 
"Just like Nazi Germany."
 
 
The Jackson Movement fought on through increasing drama and bloodshed.  In the end, it cracked Jackson and sent deep fissures across the entire state. It played a key role in sparking comparable efforts in the Southern region -- and, very well publicized, it did a tremendous amount indeed to breach the "Cotton Curtain" and bring Dixie's version of racist totalitarianism to the attention of the nation and world.
 
Cleveland, like all of us, was always very supportive of Jim Meredith, whose entrance into Ole Miss as the first Black to crack Mississippi's rigidly  segregated multi-level educational system came at the end of September 1962. That signal Happening was accompanied by massive racist demonstrations at Jackson itself, a destructive and lethal White riot at the Oxford-based University -- well to the north of Jackson -- involving at least many hundreds of White Mississippians and sympathetic racists from across the South, and more Federal and Federalized National Guard troops [with U.S. Marshals] than General Washington had commanded during the Revolutionary War.
 
But, after Meredith, always heavily guarded by Federals, was finally installed at Ole Miss, Cleveland told me, wistfully, "I wanted to be the first Negro into Ole Miss."
 
And I told him, "You'll get there."
 
And he did.  He was a very, very early indeed Black student into that citadel -- his entrance, though marked by tension, outwardly routine. 
 
In 1979, he was a professor of Black Studies at Ole Miss.  A large civil rights retrospective conference sponsored by Tougaloo and previously all-White Millsaps College at Jackson, was scheduled and I was one of a number of featured speakers.  Cleveland asked me if I'd come to Ole Miss and speak to the Black students and any interested others.  John, oldest son, and I came from the Navajo Nation in our big yellow Chev pickup [with New Mexico plates].  Cleveland, meeting us at our Oxford motel, escorted us to the meeting.  There were, by that time, several hundred Black students at the University and, in addition to his personal sponsorship, the very large and enthusiastic meeting was under the auspices of the Black Student Union.  Some interested non-Blacks, mostly Mississippians, were there as well.
 
Cleveland and I have always kept in touch.  And when we talked for so long last night -- traveling back and forth through personal and Movement epochs and contemporary challenges -- we were, frequently and somehow still, the high school kid with the philosophy interests and the new-to-Mississippi agitator from Northern Arizona.
 
So, as the rain came down in Idaho, we covered a lot of time and turf.
 
We didn't say a word about Michael Jackson.
 
In the mountains of Eastern Idaho
Nialetch/Onen
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
 
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'

THE LOST PROFESSOR [BUT NO LIFE REGRETS]  HUNTER BEAR  NOVEMBER 11 2009

NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR / HUNTER GRAY / JOHN R SALTER JR: [NOVEMBER 11 2009]

Our grandson/son, Thomas, is here in Idaho for a very pleasant visit. He, of course, received his M.D. degree from the University of Minnesota last May and is presently doing his residency at the University of Iowa hospital -- with a focus on internal medicine and psychiatry. We were visiting about diverse matters, and got off into a brief discussion on ancient, traditional, and very vital to this moment Iroquois dream analysis. That, for those unaware, is an extremely intricate art -- involving, among other things, profound symbolic interpretation. "Western" practitioners of psychoanalysis have long been impressed.

I mentioned a recurrent dream of mine which, until a few weeks ago, appeared off and on for some years. In it, I'm in an unnamed university setting, searching desperately for the room in which my students are patiently waiting. And time is running out. I try here, I try there. Fruitlessly. And then the dream ends. This interesting pattern continued until, a couple of months ago, I found the room! And in the room were my students. And, seamlessly, I began my lecture, sparking good questions.

And then I awakened.

The meaning of these episodes, obviously tinged with a bit of pathos, has been clear from the beginning. Thomas had no problem agreeing with the travail of the "lost" professor. Wherever I have taught, I've always liked virtually every student I've had -- and it's been, I can say with no false modesty, mutual.

For decades, I've consistently described my primary vocation as a "social justice organizer." But, at the same time, even while pursuing that, I have taught for many years [and in a number of disciplines] in higher education -- about 30 years, mostly full-time [and usually summer sessions as well.] As I've written earlier: "Sometimes it's been full-time organizing and part-time teaching; or full-time teaching and full-time organizing; or simply organizing [which can be double-duty work in its own right!] I've worked with grassroots people from all sorts of ethnic and cultural backgrounds in militant and democratic organizations and movements."

But let me be very, very clear at this point: I -- and my good spouse of almost half a century, Eldri -- and our whole family have absolutely no regrets whatsoever about the always challenging Trail we've been on. And we will never regret a moment of it.

Almost immediately at our arrival here in Pocatello, Idaho -- mid-summer of 1997 -- it was clear that my reputation as a "radical" had preceded us: police surveillance [initially blatant], weird telephone experiences, extraordinary postal mail delays. And when we embraced the computer faith on December 12 1998, problems began which, as I've earlier noted, proceeded from the then-Clinton administration into the Bush period and now -- without a ripple -- into the Obama epoch. The basics are here: http://hunterbear.org/duel_in_the_shadows.htm

Much of this was exported and imported via the University of North Dakota and some collaterals where I had taught for 13 years -- in an atmosphere of increasingly poisonous hostility from much of the administration and some "colleagues." [Students, as always, were just fine.] At the time I left UND, I was a full professor, former departmental head [American Indian Studies], former chair of Honors, a member of the graduate faculty. Some of that flavor is well said by Professor Brian Rice, Mohawk:

. . .this appropriate contemporary note by Brian Rice [Mohawk], Canada:

"I was happy to have received a nice review from Hunter for my book. He was one of the old school Native Studies Professors who were as much or more activists than they were simply scholars. This included people like Art Solomon and others who were defining what Native Studies should be about in the late 60's and early 70's. A lot of them disassociated themselves from programs such these, not liking the direction they were heading in. People like Hunter were vilified by Anthropologists who believed Native Studies wasn't academic enough. In other words, they should be the ones teaching Native Studies. Many of these types such as at the University of North Dakota where Hunter taught, now run the programs. There are very few social activists left in the discipline who are involved in prison reform and such." [Brian Rice]

[See also http://www.hunterbear.org/UND.htm ]

A major piece of the situation here in Idaho involves an obvious [but not completely successful] attempt to blacklist me throughout the region. A very early effort of mine to secure part-time teaching at locally-based Idaho State University was quickly rebuffed [no reason given] and now, more than 12 years later, I have yet to speak anywhere on its campus in any capacity. [I have quite successfully spoken in other settings in our general region, some actually very "mainstream."] A few years ago, the hospital in our setting scheduled a Martin Luther King Day talk by me and, since it's right across the street from a portion of Idaho State, its organizers reasonably enough felt that the University might be interested as co-sponsor. And ISU, at its lower echelons, was enthusiastic; and all proceeded well for a few planning weeks -- Until! -- until the matter got into the school's upper stratosphere.

And then ISU backed out. Pressed for an explanation, one of the initial ISU staff enthusiasts indicated I was felt to be "too radical." [The hospital carried its commitment right along -- and our meeting was most successful.]

Well, I am -- I suppose -- radical. I'm certainly committed to a full measure of social justice for all. I'm not a preacher but I do tell, in the traditions of Native America and the rural Southwest as well, very interesting stories that have a justice point. And students, whatever their particular background and perspective, always appreciate those much.

Here's a slice from the great days at Tougaloo:

This short excerpt which follows is from an oral history done by a former Tougaloo student of mine -- and a very noteworthy freedom fighter through all of these decades: Lawrence "Larry" Guyot. Originally from Pass Christian, Mississippi, Mr. Guyot took many of my Tougaloo classes -- I gave him a book of speeches by Clarence Darrow -- and he went on to play a major role in the Southern Movement and later in the broad human rights arena in the North. He completed law school and has resided for the last many years in Washington, D.C. Here, he captures the Freedom Spirit of Tougaloo College in the early '60s. This particular oral history of Lawrence Guyot's was done by University of Southern Mississippi. [H.]

"And I met--there was a brilliant compilation of very freedom-oriented, very well-educated faculty at Tougaloo. John Salter was there. He was teaching as much socialism as he was history. He later--I worked with him on a lot of things. He later wrote a great book called Jackson, MS and was very involved in those demonstrations. Worked very closely with Medgar Evers. The ability of that faculty to bring out the best instincts of freedom and liberty and justice was uncanny. I mean, I believe that if Tougaloo--Tougaloo was an oasis for academic excellence and individual and collective liberation. "

Well, ISU ain't Tougaloo by a long, long stretch. [Several of our younger family members have gotten good basic educations at ISU -- there are capable people there -- but they've gotten their social justice from our Family.]

And, I'm not quite like the Boll Weevil -- "just 'lookin' for a home, just lookin' for a place to stay." We have a good house 'way far up on the western edge of Pocatello, a very close stone's throw indeed to USFS and BLM wild lands. Nice neighbors, many friends.

And I do try to keep busy: discussion lists, our massive website [and we may launch another as well], other writing, much correspondence, do what we can social justice-wise, and a talk here, a talk there.

But I miss students.

And I am getting very, very restless.

The stirring of my Native blood, the "Call of the Far Away Hills."

In the Mountains of Eastern Idaho -

Nialetch/Onen

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear]

FOLLOW UP:  THE LOST PROFESSOR  [HUNTER GRAY]

John Salter writes on RBB -- really very tongue-in-cheek;
 
I regret that you never took that management job with Bell, so that we'd have more money when (if?) you die.
 
____________________________________________
 
First, I am NOT going to die. [I appreciate the "if" in John's sentence.]
 
When I got out of the Army at the beginning of '55, having served a full hitch and just turning 21,  very nice close relatives on my mother's side were willing to assist me in attending the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania.  I declined politely. The Wharton School was already turning into a Phelps-Dodge think tank [which it still is.]  I also declined a fraternity membership at University of Arizona.
 
In the spring of 1968, Pacific Northwest Bell Telephone [Washington, Oregon, Idaho] joined with Communications Workers of America to set up a large scale minority hiring and training program.  They badly needed an experienced race relations and down-to-earth consultant -- who was also a lucid teacher -- and they approached me. I accepted, helped design the program [there were a number of good people in on that  part], and I personally conducted several months of  consecutive 2-day training sessions which embraced Bell management and staff at all levels. I started with the board itself, headed by Tom Bolger [who later became head of AT&T] and went down through the ranks to first-line supervisors.  And I covered many union people.
 
This went extremely well.  Twice as this odyssey proceeded, I was offered a solid management position with PNB.  Each time I politely declined.  When the job was done, I was given a great going-away party at Bell -- and a new state-of-the-art Polaroid camera. We left for Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa where I taught for a very pleasant academic year and where, via my course in Social Conflict, we organized all of the 31 maids and janitors [whose pay had been cut] into a solid local of AFSCME. [Coe is a private school but that didn't matter to a good union like State/County.]  A good contract was secured.  This was academic year '68-69.
 
And then we left for Chicago's South/Southwest Side and more years of grassroots organizing -- and far beyond.
 
No regrets. [And, btw, our Bell/CWA program was rated as one of the 10 best in the country; Boeing was the worst.]
 
Privately, the big draw for some family members isn't dinero.  It's who gets what firearms of mine.
 
Yours,
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]

 

WILLIAM MACKINTIRE SALTER

[By Hunter Gray, formerly John R. Salter, Jr.   July 22, 2010]

For the 100th Anniversary of the dedication of the home building of the New York Ethical Culture Society.  William Mackintire Salter spoke at that event on October 23, 1910.

 

I have been asked to provide a short reflection on William Mackintire Salter [1853 -1931], my adoptive grandfather.  I am very pleased to do so. Now in Idaho, I am a life long activist organizer on behalf of social justice, often under very challenging circumstances -- and, too, a  retired university professor [sociology, urban and regional planning, Native studies.]

Those acquainted with our family are aware that my father, a full blooded Native American [Mi'kmaq, St. Francis Abenaki and Mohawk] originally named Frank Gray, and born in 1898, was adopted as a small child and partially raised by William Mackintire Salter and Mary Gibbens Salter, prominent New England liberals. They renamed my father John Randall Salter. [In time, I myself returned to our "original" family name of Gray.] 

 William Salter, trained in philosophy [still considered a leading authority on Nietzsche], was a courageous and dedicated social activist on a number of critical [and controversial] fronts over many decades.  Among other things, he was a key and enduring activist on behalf of the martyred Haymarket anarchists and their families, a signer of the Call to Organization of the NAACP in 1909, was active in the Indian Rights Association and a sparkplug for what became the American Civil Liberties Union.
 

He was also, of course, a very key person and enduring stalwart on behalf of the Ethical Culture movement.

But William Salter, old beyond his years, was not suited for fatherhood.  And Dad's adoption was in some respects an almost train wreck.  [Mary Salter was consistently kind and loving.]  A major silver lining in my father's experience in that setting was the nearby presence of William James -- brother-in-law of the Salters -- who lived near them at Cambridge, Massachusetts and Chocorua, New Hampshire. William James and his family provided an enormous amount of personal support for my father and James encouraged what he accurately perceived as Dad's self-developed incipient fine art abilities.  William James died in 1910. My father and William Salter had visited him a day before his passing,  About three years later, Salter attempted to sign up Dad, age 15, in the U.S. Army -- but the recruiter rejected that on the basis of Dad's youth.  Soon after that, my father left the Salters.  William Salter cut him out of his will but Mary Salter provided a small trust fund at the State Street bank in Boston.  Some years later, the estate of William James  provided the funds that enabled Dad to secure his B.A, from the Chicago Art Institute. Later, he secured two graduate degrees from the University of Iowa. My father always maintained his American Indian and tribal identities and commitment, and as a very long time artist and professor at what became Northern Arizona University, worked for decades on behalf of Native students and tribal nations until his passing in 1978.

And, a few years after their marriage in 1930, my parents wound up with all of the written works of William Salter and those of William James, and much of the Salter furniture. 

William Salter died in 1931 and Mary Salter a couple of years thereafter. My mother, an Anglo, was from an old American frontier family -- mostly Scottish and Swiss.  I was born in 1934 and grew up at and around Flagstaff, Arizona. And, as I developed, my view of William Salter was, to understate it, ambivalent.  [Our view of William James, of course, was very positive.]

But even as a smaller kid, I'd been interested in James' writings and Salter's social justice advocacy.  When, at the beginning of 1955, and just turning 21, I got out of the Army after a full hitch, my intellectual horizons were broadening fast.  When home on visits, I spent a good deal of time reading in the many James and Salter books -- which, as I've indicated, had wound up with my parents.  In time, my father suggested I take them all personally [along with all of his adoption and related legal papers] and I did so -- and, having survived many moves, all of those came right here with us to Idaho.

And, in time, though not really crystallizing in full until May 2003 when I gave the annual Founder's Day address at the Chicago Ethical Humanist [Ethical Culture] Society -- which had been directly founded by William Salter -- I myself quietly buried the hatchet and made my peace with the ghost of the man whose memory had been, for us, mixed -- and sometimes a "burning scar".

As I've written elsewhere:

"For my interracial parents and myself and my two younger brothers, in a small and isolated town in Northern Arizona, the many Salter books in our
family library -- and those by William James, his father [Henry], and his brother [Henry] which were initially given to the Salters -- were, I have come to realize, far far more important and enduring than I had once grasped.  Salter's great courage and commitment played a key role -- along with our other activist forebears -- in stimulating my parent's social justice endeavors in Flagstaff [a town with considerable racial segregation including "No Indians or Dogs Allowed" signs on many restaurant doors]."

The history of Humanity is replete with those who, despite the vicissitudes, courageously choose to serve their communities rather than to serve themselves.  His limitations as an adoptive parent notwithstanding, I give high marks to William Mackintire Salter. He did not wall himself into, and remain, in a cloistered "safe" atmosphere.  He went out into the world and challenged it to become infinitely better. As we all move along as people --  into the perennial murkiness and dangers of an always uncertain future where the challenges are now coming faster and faster from the very four directions, William Mackintire Salter, his thinking and his good works, stand as a fine and inspiring example.

Cordially,

Hunter Gray [formerly John Randall Salter, Jr]

Pocatello, Idaho 83204

 

PROMISING SPARKS:  STUDENT ACTIVISM/STUDENT PROTESTS [HUNTER BEAR/HUNTER GRAY]  NOVEMBER 21 2009

Students, globally, are naturally inclined to be restive.  And student protests, e.g., against gargantuan tuition hikes in the California university system, certainly exemplify that.  And some comparable things, activist and issue-wise though not all that dramatic nor publicized, are going on in other college and university settings.  Student activism often ignites within the Academy around institutionally-related issues and then expands into other social justice arenas, locally and often nationally.  I've never underestimated the capability of higher ed students [and sometimes even those in high school] to raise Hell -- usually, despite some rough edges, very constructively.  Nor have I felt that the great wave of student élan within and around the Obama campaign would dissipate once his election was assured -- and, as it's turned out -- the colossal flaws of his administration have become evident. 
 
Lots of good active and potential sparks are in the winds.
 
In a discouraging era where much of the visible activism is right wing populism, with Labor still relatively [and hopefully only temporarily] quiescent, and much of the peace movement still [despite the deteriorating Afghanistan situation] 'way too laid back thus far, this student activism is mighty refreshing indeed.  I think we can expect some very good, "big things" in the next few years.
 
And maybe far beyond.
 
But, as I recall my own many experiences as an activist student, very young instructor, older professor and older activist, youth will properly insist on leading themselves, doing their own thing.  Advice can be offered by others but they'll take it in their own way, on their own terms.
 
And that's good.
 
Optimistically, H.
 
 

OTHER REALLY MAVERICK THOUGHTS BY HUNTER BEAR:

Listening to clips on TV about Texas Gov Rick Perry's thoughts on Texas secession and the 10th Amendment and what-not, and then hearing Tom Delay's somewhat strained defense while dialoging on the matter with Chris Matthews, I couldn't help but recall the Ross Barnett era in the Mississippi of the early '60s when such talk sounded infinitely more sincere, and not all that unrealistic.  I remember when the Magnolia legislature took up the question of secession and chewed it over for a day or two.  In the end, it was sort of back-shelved -- not rejected -- primarily because so many of the Big Mules [an Alabama term], such as plantation man and U.S, Senator Jim Eastland were drawing heavy Federal agricultural subsidies.
 
Those were also the days when the [White] Citizens Council leaders, vacationing abroad, almost always went to the Union of South Africa.
 
In any event, Ole Ross orated far more fervently and convincingly on all of this stuff than these Texas pretenders. He was, after all, a bona fide true believer.
 
Long, long ago I realized that I, myself, have always been shaped by two broad and basic and distinctive currents:  a complex blend of several Native tribal cultures -- and another river made up of a number of component strains emanating from the Real Rural American Southwest. [ If those two basic currents find themselves in opposition on some point or another -- and they do from time to time -- I always go, of course, with the Indians.]
 
The Southwestern complex within me can produce some interesting, well -- tendencies.  A Mississippi journalist, not really a foe but not a friend either, very curious about my "value set", engaged me once in a long conversation.  It concluded in a truly amiable fashion.  "You know," he said, "There's something about you that makes me think that you're really a Mississippi boy at heart."  He couldn't understand it quite, nor could I.  But I couldn't  brush his assessment aside.  I didn't, however, let on to him that, absent the slavery issue [which could never, of course, be "absented"] , I've always thought, deep in the recesses of my soul, that the Southern Confederacy had the better case when it came to the matter of secession.  I could have also told him that, again deep in the recesses of my soul, I thought the Articles of Confederation made more sense than the Federalist/Federalism set-up.  I'm sure my Magnolia conversationalist would have embraced those heretical tendencies of mine -- which, though not exactly quarantined "'way down in", are kept somewhat corralled -- somewhat.
 
Those were topics, however, with which my good old courageous lawyer friend, the late Dixon Pyles of Jackson, and I used to toss back and forth in an atmosphere of mutual empathy at his law office on Pearl Street.  When we'd exhausted, for the moment, those matters, we turned to our mutual admiration for the military strategies of Jenghiz Khan and his legion.  John remembers, I'm sure, some of those rich discussions -- which always returned, of course, to the perennial challenges of Mississippi.
 
Once, while we were living for several years on the sovereign Navajo Nation, I received a very strange -- but intriguing -- letter from a guy located in another Western state.  I had never heard of him but, some way, he knew a little of me.  With no racial connotations but an obvious bent toward his unique perception  of freedom, he had a not badly drawn up proposal for the secession of the Western states.  His boundaries included the Great Plains region -- but split Texas down the middle.  He excluded California -- but wondered if, maybe, the northern third should be included.  [If I'd gone with him, I'd have agreed to that as well as eastern California generally.  I would have insisted, of course, on guarantees of full sovereignty and reparations for all of the Indian nations involved.]
 
But, in the end, despite the stirrings down in the recesses of my soul, I didn't respond.  But when I occasionally think of the projected venture, I think of a kind of mirage.
 
And it does glitter, 'way off yonder.
 
Yours,
 
Hunter [Hunter Bear]
 
 
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'
 

A LETTER TO YOUNG RADICALS  [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR]

This has been much reprinted -- most recently in Oregon Socialist.  [2009]

One of the more brightening things in life is interacting with young people.  This is a very recent early morning letter of mine to a  sharp, young radical with a developing local group. I'm responding to a number of good questions.  I've removed any identifying names and have otherwise edited it slightly.]  12/20/00

 

Again, very good to hear from you.  It certainly sounds like
you and your colleagues are off to a promising start.  My basic advice with
respect to a group would be to "hang loose," avoid rigidity (this can keep
people away), take your time in developing an affiliation with a national
organization.  On that score, you're "shopping around" and that makes good
sense.  There are many very good national groups -- none of them especially
large at this point -- but certainly honorable and committed. Some of them
have specific youth groups within and around their basic structure. Again,
taking your time and shopping around makes very good sense. And there's
nothing wrong with being "independent," either.

Local issues are always extremely important -- both to the "cause"  in the
sense of serving Humanity and, in close and obvious conjunction with that,
stimulating the positive growth of your group.  You can give the local
issues your basic philosophical/ideological thrust -- but you don't want to
lay the ideology on too thickly.  Blend it in in creative and effective
ways.

In the "old days," a developing radical newspaper was done on mimeograph
machines: messy ink, breakdowns, etc.  Now, xerox approaches make it much,
much easier -- cleaner, faster and essentially less expensive.  A developing
paper should, as a I mentioned a moment ago, focus primarily on local
issues -- with your ideological viewpoint blended in creatively,
effectively.  You can also have a piece or two dealing directly with the
"bigger picture:"  national and/or world events -- or even, going "over the
mountains yonder," to the utopian goal you envision.

It's critical, with any paper, to avoid packing it too full of things.  The
stories should not be overly long,  must be well written (good organization
and grammar), and, in my opinion, should avoid profanity -- at least the
crude stuff. While dealing with issues, it's always good to avoid really
personal attacks on adversaries -- tempting as those sometimes are! [Always

try to take the High Road.] The paper should have a small, working committee
and an editor who can edit -- do rewrite, if necessary.  A general image of
neatness -- adequate margins, etc -- is critical.  The paper should come out
with fairly predictable regularity.

Don't worry about religion or the lack of it. I'd view it as a personal
thing. Marx was (is) charting general directions. "Opiate," as I've
understood it, meant to him the machiavellian use of religion to dull the
concerns and block the action of the people.  Like I think he was shooting
at the oppressive Church: e.g., the Church in pre-Revolutionary Mexico or
Russia -- and many other places, then and often now. On the other hand:  the
very indigenous and radical American movement, the old Industrial Workers of the
World (Wobblies), while attacking the misuse of religion as "pie in the
sky", always viewed religion as a purely personal matter -- and many of the
IWW members were believers of one kind or another.  Others were agnostics --
simply saying they had no basic position one way or the other. And others
atheists.  A fine old union in which I was deeply involved -- International
Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers -- was very radical in traditions
and certainly had a radical leadership.  Most of the Mine-Mill members in
the West  were church members: frequently Catholic, often Mormon. In Alabama,
the Mine-Mill members were frequently Black, and Baptists or Methodists.
Again, a personal thing. The Southern Civil Rights Movement of the '50s and
'60s had very substantial radical dimensions -- and was also explicitly
religious for the most part!  Liberation Theology in, say, Latin America
today, blends Marxism and Marxist-Leninism with radical Christian thought.

One of the very best American radical films is "Salt of the Earth" -- made
by my old union (Mine-Mill) back in the mid-1950s.  Based on a very long and
bitter zinc miners' strike in southwestern New Mexico, it deals very
effectively -- using a somewhat fictionalized approach but sticking to the
essential historical facts -- with worker issues, minority issues (most of
the strikers were Mexican-American), and women issues (women took over the
picket line -- and the strike was won -- after a court injunction was issued
against the Union itself.)  Salt won many awards -- including some of the
very top international film awards -- but, for many many years, was
blacklisted in this country and is often termed, "the only U.S. blacklisted
film."  It's a genuine work of art, can't be found at a video store, but can
be easily gotten now on line for a little more than $20.00.  It's one
of the finest organizing/educative films. I've used it several hundred
times.


The best single piece of advice I ever got on radical matters came from an
old friend, the veteran IWW (Wobbly) editor, Fred Thompson -- a great guy.
I was hot-eyed, just barely into my twenties, a developing organizer and
doing, also, a lot of radical writing.  To me, Fred said, "To be really
radical, you don't have to rant and rave.  Just describe accurately the
massive injustice that exists all around you and sensibly discuss basic
curative approaches and solutions."  I pass that along with a tip of my
Stetson hat to Fred (who died at almost 90, in 1987.)

Again, certainly good to hear from you.  You all are off and rolling.
By all means, keep in touch. 

 Fraternally/In Solidarity --

Hunter Gray [Hunter Bear] 

HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by NaŽshdoŽiŽbaŽiŽ
and Ohkwari'
 
I have always lived and worked in the Borderlands.
Our Hunterbear website is now eleven years old..
Check out
http://hunterbear.org/directory.htm
 
See - Personal and Detailed Background Narrative:
http://hunterbear.org/narrative.htm
 
See our substantial Community Organizing course
(with new material into 2011):
http://hunterbear.org/my_combined_community_organizing.htm
 
And See Outlaw Trail: The Native as Organizer: (updated 2011)
http://hunterbear.org/outlaw_trail1.htm
[Included in Visions & Voices: Native American Activism (2009)
 
 

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