FROM AN IDAHO WINDOW [HUNTER GRAY / HUNTER BEAR 4/30/04]
I've been up for quite awhile and it's still very early in the morn.
Outside, the weather has moderated to the freezing mark -- up some from the
last two nights or so which saw substantial dips into the 20s, extremely
high winds, and snow. Rugged mountains, always very visible from my
window, are now quite shiny-white with snow once again. Somewhere close,
coyotes are howling.
It's been a tough and precarious almost/year -- what with the Lupus [SLE]
and more recent diabetes and all. There is no linear end in sight -- no
foreseeable cure for my chronic and highly possible lethal version of SLE.
The past two weeks have been rocky and certainly suggestive of the widely
agreed upon stat that 60% of SLE victims succumb to psychological
depression. But, on the other hand, I do not intend to fall into that
pit -- now or ever. So I do some walking, much reading and writing, and
drive my Jeep occasionally. I also fight and argue with my always ever
When my father had two quickly successive and profound strokes, it fell to
me to handle all matters and eventually his burial arrangements.
Fortunately, I had read Jessica Mitford's attack on the funeral industry --
The American Way of Death -- but even that good work barely prepared me for
the hustle I encountered at an expensive funeral home at Phoenix. Nothing
quite conditioned me for the fatuous remark from the head undertaker, as we
looked at my father in his coffin [not the $12,000 one they had
"recommended" -- but the bad enough $8,000 box] :
"He's the first Indian we've ever done," said the mortician proudly. By
that time, I was almost completely numbed.
Thus [as Mother eventually did], I've selected low-cost cremation -- should
things ever come to that -- with the understanding that my ashes will
eventually be sprinkled at our ancient family hunting camp on the eastern
rim of Sycamore Canyon, southwest of Flagstaff. Until that little ceremony
in the yellow pines and cedars, I'll reside ashes-wise in a three pound
Chase & Sanborn coffee can -- sort of genie-like. [A further brief note on
that in a moment.]
The week hasn't gone too badly in some respects. The snow is good news for
droughty Idaho. And Monday saw the most welcome arrival of Kass Fleisher's
very fine and just out book: The Bear River Massacre and the Making of
History [Albany: State University of New York Press, 2004.] Kass is a
former [excellent] student of mine and now a long-time and very productive
English prof in her own right. This important book deals with the massacre
of almost 300 Northwestern Shoshoni Indians at the hands of essentially
Union troops on January 29 1863 on the southeastern Idaho border region
adjoining Utah. She has done a splendid job of not only resurrecting this
atrocity -- which ranks on the sanguinary scale with Sand Creek [eastern
Colorado, 1864] and Wounded Knee [South Dakota, 1890] -- but also in
pursuing the many significant, but until now often shadowy ramifications and
implications of the terrible affair.
And it's extremely well written.
I was privileged indeed to be one of a handful of readers selected by SUNY
Press at the beginning of the process and a statement from my glowing report
is one of four carried on the back cover:
"The most intriguing dimension is the thrust, from a fascinating variety of
viewpoints, to achieve redemption -- a great and signal effort encompassing
and, however awkwardly, transcending race and ethnicity, religion and
non-religion, tribal generations and tribal factions and, very basically,
the skeletal hand of History."
While I was rereading this fine work, the almost three pound can of Chase &
Sanborn arrived yesterday via Fed Express. It's a truly handsome can --
bright blue background, clean white lettering, daguerrotypes of Messrs.
Chase and Sanborn -- and a historical note that explains this great coffee
started in 1862 at Boston and was the first to spread to both East and West
"That's one helluva attractive can," said I to admiring family members.
"Almost makes one want to hurry up and get cremated."
But, of course, I didn't really mean THAT.
And while I was momentarily lost in my little reverie, the phone rang --
with Reality. It was a police lieutenant from Chubbuck [adjoins Pocatello]
in connection with an ugly incident precipitated by a Chubbuck officer
against my grandson/son, Thomas, and his very special friend, Mimie. The
lieutenant and I talked at length -- civilly and at least fairly
productively. A couple of days before, I had spoken extensively with the
friendly and cooperative Vice President for Student Affairs at Idaho State
University. Much more remains to be done on this issue and it will be,
The basic situation, common enough in these often racist parts, is indicated
in my complaint to the ISU Vice President:
NOTE BY HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] [4/26/04]
This letter has been sent to the Vice President for Student Affairs, ISU. An
Arizonian, I am a sociologist and a retired full prof and former chair
of American Indian Studies at University of North Dakota -- and former chair
of Honors. Thomas Gray Salter, 22, and an ISU student is one of a number of
family members who live at our large home 'way up on the West Bench. Mimie
Chilinda is 20 and also an ISU student. The following synopsis -- not the
full sorry mess in all detail -- lays out the basic situation. The members
of our family are Indian and Mimie is from Zambia.
We ask that this be investigated and that appropriate action be taken and
that we be informed of all results. Among other things, it's difficult to
believe that Chubbuck police would have any jurisdiction at all at ISU.
HARASSMENT OF MINORITIES [APRIL 24 2004]:
Note by Hunter Bear: On April 24, 2004 at 1:10 am, my grandson/son, Thomas,
and his special friend, Mimie -- both Idaho State University students --
were riding in Thomas' Jeep in the Idaho State University area. Thomas was
driving. Thomas is dark-skinned and Mimie, from Zambia, is very black.
They were going north on 5th and turning right on Humbolt. The police
officer who stopped them was in a Chubbuck police car -- and Chubbuck is
several miles to the north of ISU. The officer accused Thomas of drinking
and crossing the center line several times. Neither Thomas nor Mimie had
had anything to drink and Thomas had not crossed the center line. The cop
wanted Thomas to take a sobriety test and, when Thomas agreed, the cop
backed off and gave no test nor any ticket. When he backed off, the officer
said something else had come up somewhere and he had to leave. Only
reluctantly, did the officer give his ostensible last name -- and he gave
no first name. The ISU area is served by Campus Public Safety and the
Pocatello Police Department.
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] 2000 Sandy Lane, Pocatello, ID 83204
Not heading into the coffee can anytime soon -- if I can help it.
For the Red Dawn -
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR] Micmac/St Francis Abenaki/St Regis Mohawk --
and DSA, SPUSA, CCDS, Solidarity, UAW, and UALE
Protected by Na´shdo´i´ba´i´
In our Gray Hole, the ghosts often dance in the junipers and sage, on the
game trails, in the tributary canyons with the thick red maples, and on the
high windy ridges -- and they dance from within the very essence of our own
inner being. They do this especially when the bright night moon shines down
on the clean white snow that covers the valley and its surroundings. Then
it is as bright as day -- but in an always soft and mysterious and
remembering way. [Hunter Bear]