HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN
R SALTER, JR.] UPDATED INTO 2012
.(One update is John Salter III's letter
to the Mississippi Clarion Ledger in 2005 -- but now in a very contemporary
context with much more on some current Mississippi matters. It's at the bottom of this Narrative page.)
NOTE BY HUNTER BEAR:
As a boy, I shot my huge Coming of Age Bear -- deep
in the vast Sycamore Canyon wilderness area in Northern Arizona. At that
point, I then became a man. The fiery spirit of the Bear and its abundantly
fine qualities -- intelligence, courage, stamina, instinct -- are with me
always and have served me very well and faithfully on my swift and rocky River
of No Return. I plan to do much more in my life -- much more indeed -- before
the eventual trip into the Fog and Deep Canyon, up over the High Mountains,
and Far Beyond to the Shining Sun in the Turquoise Sky that glows forever down
on the Headwaters of Life. And when that Journey finally comes the great Bear
will accompany me. Hunter Gray [Hunter
Spirit of Mt. Katahdin By John R.
Salter [Frank Gray]
Gray / Hunter Bear - Organizer
Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk]
AT OUR FAR UP HOME
IN EASTERN IDAHO
CONTEMPORARY PHOTO BY THOMAS GRAY SALTER
Regularly Updated. I was born from the Four
Directions -- as John Randall Salter, Jr. I grew up in
wild and rugged mountains and canyons at and around Flagstaff, [Coconino County] Arizona.
It was a quasi-frontier atmosphere where you learned early on how to fight -- and
fight effectively. You also learned and appreciated the sensible use of firearms.
My father, a full-blooded American Indian originally
from the Northeast (Mi'kmaq/St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk), was born Frank Gray but,
as a child, was adopted and partially raised by William Mackintire Salter and Mary Gibbens
Salter, very prominent New England liberals, who changed his name to John Randall Salter.
My mother, an Anglo, was from an old Western
William Mackintire Salter, trained in
Philosophy, and initially a Congregationalist, was, with Felix Adler, a founder
and major leader of the Ethical Culture Society [American Ethical Union.] He was
a strong and courageous advocate for the Haymarket anarchists and their
families; with his social justice colleague, Jane Addams, a signer of the Call
to Organization of the NAACP in 1909; and he was among those who sparked the
development of what became the American Civil Liberties Union. And for
many years, from at least 1894 to about 1916, he was extremely active in
the Indian Rights Association -- an almost all-Anglo liberal group which, at that point,
had, among its goals, the adoption of Native children by whites and, it was mistakenly
assumed, the eventual cultural assimilation of the Indian children. This was a very
unfortunate approach indeed! William Salter's wife was Mary Gibbens, from a family
closely associated with the historian Francis Parkman. Her sister was Alice Howe
Gibbens, who married the great American philosopher, William James of Cambridge,
Massachusetts and Harvard, and Chocorua, New Hampshire.
The Salters had a particular interest in the small
child, Frank Gray, who eventually became my father. Strong among Dad's several
ancestral Native rivers was the Annance family line: a prominent St. Francis
Abenaki family [Odanak, Quebec] with many Mohawk roots and connections. Several
members of the family had left Catholicism for the Anglican faith and one of these, Louis
(Lewis) Annance -- who, as had others in the family, attended Dartmouth -- then became a
Congregationalist and eventually a Mason. [Most members of the family and their
connections, however, remained Catholic.]
Lewis Annance, who lived in Northern New Hampshire,
eventually relocated to Maine and became its most prominent Native guide [Moosehead Lake
and Northern Maine generally.] He was a close friend of the Francis Parkman family.
He was too, through his Congregationalist affiliations, well known to William M.
Salter. The Salters maintained a large summer home at Silver Lake in the White Mountains
of New Hampshire, as did William and Alice James in that vicinity -- though both families
were primarily based at Cambridge, Massachusetts and the Salters also lived at
Philadelphia and Chicago. In Maine, the ever hospitable Lewis Annance, the
academically very well educated St. Francis Abenaki guide, raised many and varied
Annance-related children of several generations and branches -- including my
grandmother. Several Annance women worked for the Salter and James families.
William and Mary Salter knew my father and his background very well indeed and, when
they moved to adopt a Native child, they chose him.
For much additional information on our Native
American genealogy, see the pages on the Gray line [Mohawk] as well as the Annance
connections and related lines http://www.hunterbear.org/family_stuff.htm
William James and William M. Salter grappling with race and ethnicity in the
context of our Native relatives and Dad's adoption, see The Stormy Adoption of
an Indian Child [My Father]
and also an account of
Gray family activism in the Far Western fur trade
But, for a number of reasons including the unfortunate
goal of assimilation, the adoption was not a particularly happy one at all.
For all of his vigorous and courageous liberalism, fatherhood was not William M.
Salter's strong suit. Mary Gibbens Salter was certainly a very kind and caring
person. A major asset to my father was William James who spent much time with Dad,
taking a special interest in Dad's incipient, developing abilities as an artist. [Among
the many talents of James himself were those of an artist.] In 1910, at Chocorua,
New Hampshire, Dad and William M. Salter visited William James a day before James' death.
In 1913, at age 15, Dad left the Salters and, although he returned at various
points, it was never to stay. Many, many years later, money from the estate of
William James provided the basic funds which put my father through the Chicago Art
Institute and launched his successful career as an artist and professor.
Although my father -- never assimilated and always
aware of his tribal background and connections and affiliation -- resented the name
Salter, he never got around to changing it back to Gray before he died. I did
change my name: Gray from the Mohawk portion of our Native side; and Hunter, from my
Mother's Scottish-American old Western frontier family -- full of colorful and sometimes
violent land-hungry entrepreneurs: Dakota Territory, Kansas Territory, Indian
Territory [Oklahoma], Idaho. Her family was also heavily sprinkled with
Abolitionists, Populists, and red Socialists.
On my mother and her family:
My special relationship with the Bear has been literally
lifelong. The role -- the calling -- of a Hunter has been designated from very early
I've been a social justice agitator all my life and I
always will be one: a radical.
the Special Tribute to me of 2004/2005 with a great many background and
contemporary statements and photos and more:
Brief Note On My Academic Education:
See the 2005 Elder
Recognition Award -- honoring me. From
Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and
Storytellers. This is one of several awards voted by
the Caucus [board] of this organization of writers,
storytellers, film makers, and journalists.
[The last recipient of the Wordcraft Elder Recognition
Award was Maurice Kenny, Mohawk, teacher and playwright and poet, who received
it in 2000.]
MARTIN LUTHER KING
AND FOUR NATIVE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS -- INCLUDING MYSELF -- HONORED BY NATIONAL
INDIAN GAMING ASSOCIATION (INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, JANUARY 16, 2012)
I started doing fully adult work as I entered my teens
-- many tough jobs across the Far West as those earlier years moved on: among them,
much forest fire fighting, agricultural laborer, trapper, development miner. [And, since I
was a big kid, I had no problem at all representing myself as being a good deal older than
I really was!] I learned very, very soon the critical importance of solidarity with
one's fellow workers: "An injury to one is an injury to all."
I consider myself a
Real Red: In addition to being an American Indian,
I belonged, in the 1950s,
to the last of the really old-time Industrial Workers of the World and I was also an
International Union of Mine, Mill & Smelter Workers man.
I've organized all over -- the Southwest, Pacific
Northwest, Deep South, New England, Chicago, Midwest, Up-State New York, Northern Plains,
Rockies. [See, in the final portion of this Narrative, a summary of my activism -- to date
-- from Civil Rights Movement Veterans website.]
Trained as a sociologist, I've taught in a number of
colleges and universities: Wisconsin State, Superior; Tougaloo Southern Christian College;
Goddard College; Coe College; University of Iowa; Navajo Community College
[now Dine' College]; University of North Dakota -- and part-time at
University of Washington; Seattle Community College;
Roosevelt University; Southeastern Community College / Iowa State Penitentiary
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 backgrounds in militant and democratic organizations and movements. A bio of me
appears in the Encyclopedia of American Indian Civil Rights (Greenwood Press, 1997).
The author of this bio, Professor Roy Wortman of Kenyon College, later did a
very extensive essay on my life and times: "I Consider Myself a Real
Red:" The Social Thought of American Civil Rights Organizer John R.
[Salter] Hunter Gray." Published in the Journal of Indigenous Thought
Indian Federated College, Regina, Winter 2001], it's also available on this
From the Editors' comments,
Journal of Indigenous Thought:
Dr. Wortman's pieces, "Telling Their Own Stories, Building Their Own
Strength: Dr. Dave Warren on Framing and Imparting American Indian History" and
" 'I Consider Myself a Real Red' : The Social Thought of American Civil Rights
Organizer John (Salter) Hunter Gray" explore the work and lives of two prominent
Native Americans. Wortman in the two pieces engages in a thoughtful dialogue
with both Warren and Gray with neither being an "informant" or an "object of
research." Rather, the words and thoughts of both are conveyed through the
interviews which have been skillfully edited by Wortman. Furthermore, the
interviews are placed within a larger interpretative framework with references
to other contexts and situations which amplify the words and contributions of
both Warren and Gray.
In the essay, " ' I Consider Myself a Real Red'," important points of contrast
are drawn between the experience of Black Americans and the civil rights
movement and the attempt of Native Americans to hold on to their identity in the
wake of the pressures of assimilation: "Where Black Americans sought to become
part of the broader United States society, American Indians sought to remain as
much as possible apart from that sphere because of their historical and legal
traditions based on treaties" (p. 7). The achievements of Gray demonstrate the
challenges of trying to balance the need to maintain identity within the rubric
of collective minority as well as the need to participate within the larger
society. Perhaps, it is through ambiguity that emerges in this attempt to
navigate various cultural and political frameworks, that Gray denounces
essentialism. Instead, Gray holds that cultures are essentially an organic,
fluid activity, but at the same need a real material/ physical grounding such as
that found in Treaty rights (e.g. access to land base) and of the economic
contexts that people find themselves in.
And see this very long and detailed
interview done with me by Bruce Hartford, Civil Rights Movement Veterans, in
July 2005. It contains much personal information.
Also, Outlaw Trail: The Native as Organizer http://hunterbear.org/outlaw_trail1.htm
papers -- a vast array -- are held in two essentially similar collections: The Mississippi
Department of Archives and History, Jackson; The National Social Action Collection
of the State Historical Society of Wisconsin, Madison. They are concurrently listed under
John R. Salter, Jr., John Hunter Gray, and Hunter Gray. I've done a number of oral
histories which are held in both collections. Each collection also contains copies
of my very, very voluminous F.B.I. files obtained in the 1980s under FOIA/PA. [The F.B.I. put me on several of its high-priority "agitator"
lists: Section A of the Reserve Index/Security Index and Rabble Rouser Index.]
I've written and published for decades on social
justice issues. Most of this has been non-fiction, some short
story fiction. A good number of journals have published several pieces of mine.
Anyway, my stuff has appeared in such publications as Argosy, Industrial Worker, American Socialist,
Mainstream, Student Action, Mississippi Free Press, North Jackson Action, Southern Patriot
[SCEF], The Carolinian, The Carolina Times, Native American Publication, The
Movement (Chicago), The Catholic Courier (Rochester), Integrated Education,
Excellence in Education, Third
World Socialists, Sojourners, Klanwatch, Religious Socialism, Freedomways, New
Perspectives (World Peace Council), The Grand Forks Herald (North Dakota), Liberty: A
Magazine of Religious Freedom, Pacific Historian, Pacific Northwest Quarterly, Labor
Notes, Labor History [review/essay], North Country, Wisconsin Magazine of
History [review essays], Contact Forum, Against the Current, The Montana Standard
(Butte), One Big Union Annual, Northwest Ethnic Voice, Our Struggle/Nuestra
Lucha, Democratic Left, The Socialist, Dialogue and
Initiative, antithesis, People's Weekly World, Michigan Sociological Review,
Independent Politics News, The November Coalition, Oregon Socialist, Michigan Citizen, Left Hook, Socialist
Viewpoint, Piikani Sun, Solidarity Discussion, Labor Net,
[Zurich], Political Affairs [The Destroyers short story], Akha Journal,
Fist and Rose [SPUSA], Lupus News, My Town, Outsiders, The Heretic, We! Magazine,
Portside, New World Finn, Labor Net -- and much more. Bio essays of mine are carried in The Encyclopedia of the
American Left (1990). I've done a number of very extensive oral histories [e.g.,
Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Mississippi State University
John C. Stennis Collection, Southern Regional Council. And
I've done a myriad of book reviews.
I have written chapters in such works as Restricting
Handguns: The Liberal Skeptics Speak Out, North River Press, 1979; The Gun Culture And Its
Enemies, Merril Press, 1990; Current Controversies: Gun Control, Greenhaven Press, 1992;
When Cosmic Cultures Meet, Human Potential Foundation, 1996; Freedom Is A Constant
Struggle: An Anthology Of The Mississippi Civil Rights Movement, Black Belt Press,
1999; Celestial Healing: Close Encounters That Cure, Signet/Dutton, 1999;
Visions and Voices: American Indian Activism and the Civil Rights Movement,
Albatross Press, 2009.
My book is
Jackson, Mississippi: An American Chronicle of Struggle & Schism (1979
and Krieger, 1987 ) -- and now, 2011, being reissued with my new, quite large
updating chapter -- by the University of Nebraska Press. (See notice below in the
latter part of this page.)
I've also done a number of short monographs on various
social justice and related topics. Representative
reviews of my book can be found at:
short story of mine, "The Destroyers," published initially in
Mainstream in 1960, won ever-broadening national and international renown.
It was reprinted abroad in a variety of journals -- including those of the
Russian and the Ukrainian writers' unions -- and it was
also reprinted in the United States. And it was picked by Martha
Foley and David Burnett as one of the very best short stories published in
the United States in 1960 and included in their very special "Roll of
Honor" [about fifty stories]: Martha Foley and David Burnett, The Best
American Short Stories, 1961 and the Yearbook of the American Short Story
[Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1961.] It is
posted on our website at
In addition to a great deal of conventional print
writing/publishing which carries to the present moment, I've done much Net writing
in recent years for various human rights web sites.
I am presently  very well along in the
process of an essentially autobiographical work which incorporates selected
previous writings of mine with mint-new material. The primary focus
involves my formative experiences and my practical activism on behalf of Native
rights, civil rights, civil liberties, and union labor. There will be a
substantial dimension involving down-to-earth grassroots community organizing.
At this point, 2011, many substantial social
justice articles of mine have just appeared in print and others are in the very process of
doing so. And I have additional pieces well on the way.
I very strongly believe, from my basic roots, that, if
you're going to really believe in something, make it something that serves humanity in a
deep and enduring sense and not simply something that serves only oneself. I believe that
one should Keep Fighting, all the way through: in the green oases and the red water of
rich and vibrant and far-flung struggle: and also in the long lonely stretches of desert
with the bitter and unsung and critically important "little" fights -- and
always with an eye on the Better World Over the Mountain Yonder.
This is a strong personal thought:
When I was a kid, an important role model was Arthur
[Gawasowaneh], Bear Clan,
(1881 -1955), whose distinguished Seneca (Iroquois) ancestry traced back to his
great-uncle Eli Parker (Seneca, Brigadier General in the Union Army, and aide to U.S.
Grant, and first Native American Indian Commissioner) and also directly to founders of the
Iroquois Confederacy itself. Other equally distinguished sides of his family went
back to the earliest British settlers.
Arthur Parker was always very much a Seneca, Iroquois,
Native American. He was a principal organizer, leader, editor of the first 20th
Century pan-Indian (broadly inter-tribal) Indian rights organization, the Society of
American Indians (1911 into the 1920s) and was a founder
 of the still very much in
existence National Congress of American Indians. He was state anthropologist for the
State of New York and a major writer and academic figure in Ethnology.
He was also someone who refused to let himself
be stereotyped or cast into an iron block mold. "I don't have to play
Indian," he said "to be an Indian." Parker, in addition to his Native
rights activities, took positions on a wide range of national and international issues (a
few of which I would not be in agreement, despite my admiration
for him.) Like the
eminent Harvard philosopher of the late 1800s into the 1900s, William James, Arthur Parker
also studied and wrote extensively on "psychical research" -- what today is
called parapsychology, and he extensively studied the mediumistic Fox
sisters of upstate New York.
My father, (1898-1978), who, having left the Salter
family at 15, never had any appreciable high school work, was a gifted Native
(Micmac/St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk) artist who eventually received three earned
academic degrees: B.A. from the Art Institute of Chicago and M.A. and M.F.A. from the
University of Iowa. Dad, at 15 years of age, was part of an altruistic
gun-running operation serving Mexican Indian revolutionaries (soon after the murder of
revolutionary President Francisco Madero by the right wing military manipulated by the
U.S. oil and mining interests) and spent, at that point, a good deal of dramatic time in
Mexico in the service of the Revolution. He formed a very close association with Mexico
which lasted throughout his life and, in time, developed close relationships with a number
of Mexico's leading artists. His last year of teaching -- following his retirement
from Northern Arizona University -- was a twelve month stint at the University of
Guanajuato. His last completed oil painting just before his death -- a large
and wonderfully colorful semi-abstract -- is Los Locos: eleven costumed Mexican
Indian dancers. It hangs today in our living room in Idaho and a photo of it is at the
conclusion of this Narrative.
My father was always very much a Native man indeed.
But no one ever pushed him into any stereotyped box.
Our family has now, for several generations, been
deeply involved with the Southwestern Native nations -- especially the Navajo
[within and around whose world I grew up] and
Laguna. Our ties with the Navajo could not be more
enduringly and personally closer. And the ties with Mexico certainly continue.
Both Dad and my Anglo mother (she from her old
and very colorful western "frontier" family -- with its many diverse
philosophical perspectives: hard-bitten ranchers and mining engineers on the one
hand; on the other, Populists and left-wing socialists) always encouraged me to do my own
thing -- cut my own trail just as I saw fit.
I have always blazed my own
trail and my broad interests
and commitments -- all of which I see as reaching towards the Sun -- reflect this and
always will. And I and my wife, Eldri, have always successfully encouraged our own
children to do the same thing.
Indian Scholarship Committee. Seated: Jimmy Kewanwytewa; John Salter, Chairman; Raymond
Naiki; George Kirk and Willie Coin. Standing are: M.T. Lewellen; Ellery Gibson; Dr.
Garland Downum, Secretary-treasurer; Dr. William Tinsley; Melvin T. Hutchinson, publicity
chairman; and Dr. Lewis J. McDonald.
My father, John Salter, and associates.
Arizona State College, Flagstaff, (later Northern Arizona University), ca.
1956. This is the precise listing and name spelling of the Indian Scholarship
Committee members as given by NAU. However, it is Raymond Nakai -- not Naiki.
My father at age 77. Photo taken at
Flagstaff, Arizona by Bob Fronske. Excerpt from Dad's adoptive documents, and
from my name change effective in District Court, May 1995.
I served a
full Active Duty hitch [and then Inactive Reserve stint] in the U.S. Army --
receiving an Honorable Release from Active Duty and, following several
years in the Inactive Reserves, an Honorable Discharge. I am a member of
veterans' organizations. Note the reference to my father in the above document.
Los Locos, Mexican Indian Dancers at
San Miguel de Allende, 1978
One of my father's last paintings.
My father exhibited
very widely indeed -- nationally and internationally. This was the sort of
exhibition which always gave him enormous satisfaction.
Salter, Jr. [Hunter Bear], age seven, painting a war drum. I had just been
given -- as an extremely significant gift -- a very powerful Iroquois boy's bow at Onondaga.
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
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.
This is my activist bio -- right into
contemporary times -- from the Civil Rights Movement Veterans website: http://www.crmvet.org
Hunter Gray (John R. Salter Jr., Hunter Bear)
NAACP, SCEF, Mississippi, North Carolina, etc,
2000 Sandy Lane
Pocatello, ID 83204
Web Site: www.hunterbear.org
Testimony: My wife,
Eldri, and I were in the Southern Movement from the Summer of 1961 into the
Summer of 1967: six years. An American Indian [Micmac/St. Francis Abenaki/St.
Regis Mohawk], I grew up in the Navajo country of Northern Arizona and Western
New Mexico. Beginning in the mid-1950s after I finished a full hitch in the
United States Army I was active in Native American rights; was a radical
activist in what remained of the old-time Industrial Workers of the World; was a
radical activist in the militant and democratic left-wing International Union of
Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers [Mine-Mill]. I learned much that was valuable as
a labor organizer. And for my entire adult life, I have been a left socialist.
Trained in sociology, I came with Eldri to
Mississippi in 1961 and taught at Tougaloo College, just north of Jackson. I was
Advisor to the Jackson Youth Council of the NAACP, a member of the executive
committee of the Jackson NAACP, a member of the Board of Directors of the
Mississippi State Conference of NAACP Branches, and a primary organizer of the
Jackson Movement of 1962-1963. I worked closely with SNCC, CORE, and later also
with SCLC and Highlander. [I also conducted some of the first poverty/racism
surveys in several Mississippi rural counties and testified to my grim findings
before hearings conducted by the Mississippi Advisory Committee to the U.S.
Commission on Civil Rights].
I served as the Strategy Committee Chair of
the developing and ultimately very large-scale and blood-dimmed Jackson Movement
which reached its climax in the Spring and
Summer of 1963. I participated in the most direct
sense in many of the bloodily-suppressed and increasingly massive
demonstrations. Along with many others, I was beaten and arrested on a number of
occasions; was targeted in the sweeping anti-Movement injunction, City of
Jackson v. John R. Salter, Jr. et al. [which, of course, we defied]; and was
seriously injured [along with a colleague, Rev. Ed King] and my car destroyed,
in a rigged auto wreck.
Following the sanguinary Jackson Movement
epoch, I became, at the end of the Summer of 1963,
Field Organizer for the radical Southern Conference Educational Fund, which was
then headed by Jim Dombrowski [with Miss Ella J. Baker and Carl and Anne Braden
and Rev. Howard Melish as staff colleagues]. I worked across the hard-core
South. I was the primary organizer of an ultimately quite successful
large-scale, multi-county civil rights grassroots organizing project in the
isolated, poverty-stricken, Klan-infested Northeastern North Carolina Black
Belt. In 1966 and 1967, I organized militant grassroots anti-poverty
movements i.e., Peoples' Program on Poverty in the Northeastern North
Carolina Black Belt. In those hard-fought Southern
years, my wife and I learned much, much indeed from the grassroots about courage
and commitment and vision - and we have carried all of that with us for all of
We left the South in the Summer
of 1967, went to the Pacific Northwest where I was active in many social justice
endeavours. In 1969-1973, we were on the bloody South/Southwest Side of
Chicago where I directed the large-scale grassroots organization of
multi-issue block clubs. We worked with African American, Puerto Rican, Chicano,
and some Native American people and we fought the police and the Daley
Machine and organized more than 300 block clubs and related organizations.
Concurrently, on the North Side of Chicago, I
was a key organizer of the regional all-Indian Native American Community
Organizational Training Center and served for many years as its Chair. I was
active in the Plains in Native rights campaigns. And I served as the
controversial social justice director for the 12 county Roman Catholic Diocese
of Rochester, New York [1976-1978], where Native rights and union labor and
anti-racism were among the key thrusts that I and others initiated and carried
Then we were back in the Southwest for
several years in the Navajo country [the vast Navajo Nation], teaching and
holding other posts as well at Navajo Community College [now Dine' College], and
involved in anti-uranium campaigns and related endeavours. For most of the 1980s
deep into the 1990s, I was an active organizer of many effective Native rights
campaigns in the Northern Plains e.g., Grand Forks, ND and the utterly racist
reservation border town of Devils Lake, ND.
In 1994, I retired as a full professor and
former departmental chair [and former chair of Honors] from the American Indian
Studies Department at University of North Dakota. In due course, we returned to
the Mountain West and are presently based at Pocatello, Idaho where we are
quite involved in various 'rights campaigns and very much in the worsening
situation regarding the extremely negative city and state police.
I have written and published many articles,
some short stories and also one book: Jackson, Mississippi: An American
Chronicle of Struggle and Schism, 1979, with
an expanded Krieger edition in 1987. I am presently completing an
autobiographical book of my writings.
I've been a bona fide working organizer since
I was a Teen. [I will be to the day I pass into the Spirit World]. And that kind
of organizing involves getting grassroots people together, developing on-going
local leadership, dealing effectively with grievances and individual/family
concerns, achieving basic organizational goals and developing new ones - and
building a sense of the New World Over The Mountains Yonder and how all of that
relates to the short-term steps. We learned a hell of a lot about all of those
critical dimensions during our great years in the Southern Movement.
Member of National Writers Union / United Auto Workers [AFL-CIO].
LETTER ON HUNTER [FROM JOHN SALTER III
- PUBLISHED JULY 25 2005 - MISSISSIPPI
CLARION LEDGER] AND THEN, MUCH MORE
(Not much has changed in "official"
Mississippi's relationship to me since this good letter by John III. "They"
seem very skittery when it comes to me -- my name and certainly my mind
and physical self. I have defeated Lupus but hear recently, via solid sources,
rumors from the Magnolia state that I am either dead, dying, or infirm.
The 50th Anniversary of the great Jackson
Movement is now in progress. A number of events in
Mississippi commemorating it and especially the martyrdom of our good friend
and colleague, Medgar W. Evers, have been in the planning stages for
months. Some State funds are involved. No one has contacted me.
I have never fit into the frameworks of
caution and timidity -- and I never will.
Hunter Bear, November 7, 2012.)
July 25, 2005
-- by John R Salter III
John Salter's role in Miss. will leave
world in better shape
Mississippi has been forsaking one of
In Jackson in the early 1960s, my father
- John Salter - was known variously as
an outside agitator, the "mustard man"
at the Woolworth's sit-in, friend and
colleague of Medgar Evers, Tougaloo
professor, target for police clubs
(successful), target for Klan bullets
(unsuccessful), organizer of the Jackson
boycott, race traitor, firebrand,
My father went on from Jackson to fight
the good fight in North Carolina,
Illinois, New York, Arizona, Iowa,
Washington, North Dakota and elsewhere.
Now it isn't the Klan out to get him,
but Systemic Lupus - a chronic, usually
My father is a warrior, but this is a
tough one to win. Some days his hands
are rendered useless claws. But his soul
and mind are strong and even in this
state he's doing what he can to leave
the world in better shape than when he
I was with my father in 1979 when he
spoke at a civil rights retrospective at
Millsaps College. I was sitting in the
audience next to Professor Jim Silver
who, along with hundreds of others, gave
my father a standing ovation.
A few years ago, my father changed his
last name to Gray, the name his father
was born with but held for only a short
time before being adopted by the Salters.
Mississippians will understand the
importance of honoring one's ancestry
and, I hope, of paying tribute to those
who helped make their history.
Learn much more about my father and his
role in Mississippi by visiting his
extensive website, www.hunterbear.org,
or by reading his book, Jackson,
Mississippi: An American Chronicle of
Struggle and Schism.
John R. Salter III
David [McReynolds] 7/25/05
Thanks for sharing this letter.
Joyce Ladner 7/25/05
Dear Hunter Bear,
The nice piece that your son wrote
about you for the Jackson newspaper was
circulated on the SSOC list.
I want to send you the best, and
many thanks for all your good deeds over
the years. My memories go back to your
years with SCEF. You are an inspiration
Is your book still available? Is it
possible to get an autographed copy?
There would be an honored place on my
bookshelf beside the other heroes of the
civil rights movement. I could send a
check, if that is doable.
At any rate, here is sending you
best regards from almost across the
country, in the Ancient City which was
also a battlefield of the movement.
David Nolan 7/25/05
I am glad to see a SNCC person
welcoming a post about
Hunter Gray's book JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI
(written under his
birth name, John R. Salter, Jr.) The
book, although written
a quarter century ago, represents a
revision of modern
Southern history as we now understand
it. It argues that the
Jackson movement at the very beginning
of the Sixties was
the largest and most powerful anywhere
in the South, more so
than Birmingham or Selma, but was
crushed because, in that
early year, the state and local
authorities and the Klan
were still more powerful.
The book plays due respect to SNCC and
and leaders, but notes that they were
Black and white. It greatly elevates the
place of Medgar
Evers, leader of the Jackson movement,
in Black and
Mississippi and U.S. history. It becomes
clear that the
reason his name does not automatically
come to mind in these
connections is that he was killed in
1963, before the years
of great triumphs and nationwide
publicity for the struggle
in Mississippi. . .
Hunter sent me
a copy of the book last week. I take
pride in words in his dedication: "Our
trails have touched
and paralleled one another many
William "Bill" Mandel 7/25/05
for son John -- thank you! thank you!
for writing that excellent letter to the
Clarion-Ledger. And my cheers to you
and to your wonder-full parents, old
friends who are very dear to me.
Paz, Clyde Appleton 7/25/05
Here's a comment from Jackson, from a
person with no movement background
"Reber- I read the letter to the editor
in the Clarion Ledger this
morning and remembered that Salter was a
friend of yours and intended to
send it to you. It contains his web
site and invitation to read further
about him which I intend to do, although
I believe you furnished it to
me a year or so ago."
Reber Boult 7/25/05
I will add a (non-religious) Amen to all
that has been said.
sam [friedman] 7/26/05
Many of us saw the beautiful letter that
your son wrote to the Clarion-Ledger.
What a kid!
Susan Klopfer 7/27/05
Hi Son of John Salter, [7/28/05]
I am pleased to see that you are
traveling in your father's footsteps.
is the thing that will make his legacy a
great one. Last I saw you and your
wonderful Mother, you were just a small
boy emerging into a world filled
with hanging moss and the sounds of 500
students. My name is Colia Liddell
Lafayette Clark. I was instrumental in
bringing a willing John Salter into the
Mississippi struggle. He was a wonderful
teacher and unusual in that he was
willing to give his time, expertise and
energy to assist in making a
movement happen in Jackson. Because of
his hard earnest work light came to a
very dark place bringing with it a
waterfall of positive change. Please
remind him that his student thinks of
him often and that I cannot image that
he is anything but the big bad bear that
took on the racist-fascist State of
Mississippi. His legacy is one of hope.
He can never die though he may fade
away, his work through you, his students
and the people of Mississippi will
live and justify his coming this way. I
will write more later. Please send
me an address where I can communicate
through formal mail.
Colia Liddell Lafayette Clark
wonderful letter from
John III. What a wonderful
act/gift to receive
from a son. -- Tim
McGowan August 10 2005
Salter is Alive and Well in Idaho! (So
Kiss Off, Mississippi!)
November 8 2012
starters, I'd say this
is a most eye-catching
little headline --
worthy as a positive
example in any
Klopfer is a most
gifted observer and
rights. She has
very extensively on
and her nicely done
and very embracive
blog is named in
honor of Emmitt Till
-- the very young
Black kid who
beaten and then
1955. His murder
has not yet seen its
measure of justice.
Susan was quick to
pick up on my
Mississippi post of
yesterday. I'm glad
to send this
in this vein, this
will be my last
public post on this
Dr. John Salter,
harassed at a
lunch counter in
WORK on my new
fiction novel on
Delta and the
Plan" A Novel),
I have been
old notes and
living on the
at the same time
so many of the
brave people who
rights. One of
the people I
admired is Dr.
Jr., also known
as Hunter Gray
or Hunter Bear.
Dr. Salter was a
where he helped
lead the Jackson
working with the
Evers to try and
bring sanity and
hope to the
others who were
even killed for
Hunter and I
keep in touch;
our lives have
on the Navajo
from Gallup to
we just did not
live there in
the same years
-- Hunter was in
New Mexico in
the late 1950s
and early 1960s,
as I recall. We
also both lived
in Iowa, again
years -- but he
tells me that he
often drove or
took the train
small town of
where we lived
before moving to
Gallup. Life is
isn't it? We
have never met
in person, but
email, and I
that somehow our
Anyway, I heard
that some people
that he is dying
of Lupus, or
that he at least
is very ill and
expected not to
live. This is
not so, he
Susan then very
my post of
fine letter and
my paragraph of
that Pak on my
vaguely "in the
related kinds of
such, I have
is now in
number of events
martyrdom of our
good friend and
Medgar W. Evers,
have been in the
Some State funds
No one has
I add this:
entire life from
has been spent
writing and it's
been a very long
trail indeed --
campaign -- that
I expect will
some time to
come. My fine
has been with me
at every step
almost 52 years
ago -- and our
richness of much
of it. Money
has never been
an object --
very little of
that in our
very few awards
-- and those
have been most
welcome -- have
come from those
of where we are
what we stand
for, what we've
done and do.
physician at the
us briefly a few
days ago. In
the course of
it, we discussed
an emerging and
of his focused
on young Natives
-- about which
to discuss with
(Fox) people who
central Iowa. I
gave him the
name of a former
student of mine
Iowa days. I
met John B. when
I spoke at a
local and mostly
school where he,
a senior, was
one of the
he came to the
was one of
the many Indian
whom I worked --
in addition to
was an academic
advisee of mine,
there at my
office door at
the onset of
And we had many
Iowa after his
called John B.
As I had
indicated he was
Thomas sent me
I spoke to John
B. today. I
found his number
online and he
works at the
society. I told
him who I was
and he was very
helpful. He gave
me a contact for
school. . .
Well, John said
he thought very
highly of you
this twice). He
sitting in your
office and that
you'd smoke your
pipe. He laughed
when I told him
I wished him
continue to hear
from many of
those with whom
I've worked as
many decades. Those
myself and my
From Professor Jim Loewen:
(November 9 2012)
[SNCC-List] Re: Civil Rights
Chair at Tougaloo College / John R. Salter Jr., "JACKSON,
Just before Halloween, John Salter/Hunter Gray posted a short
essay to this list:
WE'RE INTO THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREAT JACKSON
He included a letter from 1963 signed by Medgar Evers, Doris
Allison, and himself, and he included links to other information.
Following up on that interesting post, I would like to announce a
premium for everyone (well, for the first five people, anyway) who
makes a new donation of at least $200 this calendar year (2012) to
the campaign to endow a "Mississippi Civil Rights Movement Chair" at
Tougaloo College. Hunter has donated five original hardbound copies
of his classic account of the movement, Jackson, Mississippi,
published by Exposition Press in 1979. Each book is in splendid
original condition complete with paper jacket and is signed "With
best wishes, John R. Salter Jr."
Jackson, Mississippi presents a vivid insider's view of the
Jackson boycott movement, the demonstrations that led to mass
arrests, the actions of courageous young people, and the murder of
Medgar Evers and the incredible tension of his funeral march. As
you would expect, given that Salter was and is a sociologist and a
radical, it also contains penetrating analyses of the role of each
acting group, including the national office of the NAACP, black
ministers, the city government and police force, White Citizens
Council, etc. And it shows the important role played by Tougaloo,
some of its students and faculty members (including Prof. Salter),
and its president, A. D. Beittel.
As Joyce Ladner put it in her message to this list more than a year
ago, "Perhaps no other college in the South played as central a role
in the Movement than Tougaloo." She also noted, "Tougaloo paid a
heavy price for its involvement. " As a result, the college has
always been poor. Today its endowment is just $8,000,000. This
endowed chair will make such a difference, both economically, by
funding an important faculty position, and also to campus morale.
I am helping with this campaign because I feel that a dollar given
to Tougaloo makes a real difference. Certainly my alma mater,
Carleton College, does not need my support, although I give Carleton
$10/year just so it can claim another giving alum. Even less does
my graduate school, Harvard, whose endowment is obscenely huge.
Tougaloo, on the other hand, does more with less than any other
college I know.
Then too, as Joyce put it, there is the unfortunate fact that "all
that many young people in Mississippi know of the Civil Rights
Movement is 'Martin Luther King Jr.' And he played only a minor
role in Mississippi! Simply establishing a Mississippi Civil Rights
Movement Chair will honor and remember a great cause, a magnificent
Joyce ended her October 24 message, "My hope is that at this point
in our lives, many of us who felt civil rights for all as a priority
in our youth (and perhaps throughout our lives) would like to
revisit that priority once more. This chair offers an important way
to do so." This premium offers an additional incentive to you all
to get a stimulating read and an important keepsake in return.
If you wish to donate, send checks made out to "Tougaloo College,"
with the "for" blank saying "Civil Rights Chair," to Tougaloo
College, Office of Institutional Advancement, 500 W. County Line
Rd., Tougaloo, MS, 39174. Or you can give through Tougaloo's
website, tougaloo.edu, specifically at
please send me an email telling me you have done so and giving me
your address. I'll send you the book in time for Christmas.
Let me add, Tougaloo does retain some of the idealism of the Civil
Rights Movement. Pres. Beverly Hogan and others on campus still
refer to (and explain) "the beloved community." Students still
choose Tougaloo partly because they think its graduates do more in
the community than graduates of other schools. And they are right:
its graduates do continue to do important things.
I continue to hope that members of this list will contribute
repeatedly to the campaign for the Mississippi Civil Rights Movement
Chair at Tougaloo College. If not us, who? If not now, when?
Toward that end, if and when I can come up with additional
"premiums" and other ideas, I shall email you all again, seeking
your help. As well, anyone who wishes to join the campaign can
email Larry Morse,
firstname.lastname@example.org, with any suggestions you might have.
Best wishes for 2013 -- Jim Loewen
James W. Loewen
Best email address: email@example.com
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St.
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR]
Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk
Protected by Na΄shdo΄i΄ba΄i΄
I have always lived and worked in the Borderlands.
Our Hunterbear website is now eleven years old..
Check out www.hunterbear.org
See - Outlaw Trail: The Native as Organizer:
[Included in Visions & Voices: Native American Activism 
See this on the new, expanded and updated edition of my book,
Jackson Mississippi -- the classic and fully detailed account of
the historic and bloody Jackson Movement of almost 50 years ago:
And see Shooting Lupus, now expanded 7 / 09 / 2011 (my killing
a very deadly disease in an eight year war -- a disease that did
its best to kill me):