PERSONAL NARRATIVE:   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 Bear]


Spirit of Mt. Katahdin By John R. Salter [Frank Gray]

 

 

 

 

Hunter Gray / Hunter Bear - Organizer

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

AT OUR FAR UP HOME IN EASTERN IDAHO

                     CONTEMPORARY PHOTO BY THOMAS GRAY SALTER

 

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 "frontier" family.

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  

On 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] http://www.hunterbear.org/James%20and%20Salter%20and%20Dad.htm

and also an account of Gray family activism in the Far Western fur trade  http://www.hunterbear.org/GRAY%20LANDS%20AND%20GRAY%20GHOSTS.htm

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:  http://hunterbear.org/mother.htm

My special relationship with the Bear has been literally lifelong.  The role -- the calling -- of a Hunter has been designated from very early childhood.

I've been a social justice agitator all my life and I always will be one: a radical.

See the Special Tribute to me of 2004/2005 with a great many background and contemporary statements and photos and more: http://www.hunterbear.org/special_tribute_page_for_hunter.htm

Brief Note On My Academic Education:   http://www.hunterbear.org/a_brief_note_on_my_academic_educ.htm

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.]
 http://www.hunterbear.org/elder_recognition_award_for_2005.htm    Regularly updated.

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING AND FOUR NATIVE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS -- INCLUDING MYSELF -- HONORED BY NATIONAL INDIAN GAMING ASSOCIATION  (INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, JANUARY 16, 2012)

See http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/01/16/ernie-stevens-jr-honor-mlk-and-native-civil-rights-leaders-72722  

 

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 [Native inmates].

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 [Saskatchewan Indian Federated College, Regina, Winter 2001], it's also available on this website at  http://www.hunterbear.org/Red%20essay%20on%20Hunter%20Gray.htm

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.  http://www.hunterbear.org/HUNTER%20BEAR%20INTERVIEW%20CRMV.htm

Also, Outlaw Trail: The Native as Organizer  http://hunterbear.org/outlaw_trail1.htm

My 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, Equity and 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, Niederngasse [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:

http://www.hunterbear.org/jackson.htm
 
 A 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 http://www.hunterbear.org/the%20short%20story.htm

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 [2011] 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 C. Parker [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 [1944] 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.

 

originaldad.jpg (431205 bytes)

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.

 

loslocos.jpg (173007 bytes)

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.

 

John R. 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
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 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, 1961-1967
Current Residence:
2000 Sandy Lane
Pocatello, ID 83204
Web Site: www.hunterbear.org    Email:  hunterbadbear@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 these decades.

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 through successfully.

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 its champions.

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, rabble-rouser, hero.

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 fatal disease.

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 arrived.

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
Glyndon, Minn.
 
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Good post!
Peace,
David [McReynolds]   7/25/05
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Thanks for sharing this letter.

Joyce Ladner    7/25/05

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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 to us!
    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.
        Sincerely,
        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 other organizations
and leaders, but notes that they were primarily outsiders,
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 times..."

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
or connection:
"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.
best
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. This
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.

Sincerely,

Colia Liddell  Lafayette Clark

 

What a wonderful letter from  John III.   What a wonderful act/gift to receive
 from a son.  -- Tim McGowan      August 10  2005
 

Hunter (Hunter Bear)

 

Dr. John Salter is Alive and Well in Idaho! (So Kiss Off, Mississippi!)    November 8 2012

Well, for starters, I'd say this is a most eye-catching little headline -- worthy as a positive example in any journalism course.

Susan Klopfer is a most gifted observer and writer on many worthy things and especially those involving civil rights.  She has written and published very extensively on Mississippi matters and her nicely done and very embracive blog is named in honor of Emmitt Till -- the very young Black kid who was hideously beaten and then killed in Mississippi in 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 around.  Unless something of significance occurs in this vein, this will be my last public post on this situation.


 
Dr. John Salter, Jr., Tougaloo College sociologist and civil rights leader, is harassed at a lunch counter in Jackson, Mississippi during an organized sit-in.


 
SINCE STARTING WORK on my new historical fiction novel on the Mississippi Delta and the modern civil rights movement (The Plan" A Novel), I have been sorting through old notes and papers I collected while living on the grounds of Parchman Penitentiary, and remembering at the same time so many of the brave people who championed civil rights. One of the people I have always admired is Dr. John Salter, Jr., also known as Hunter Gray or Hunter Bear.

 
Dr. Salter was a sociologist at Tougaloo College where he helped lead the Jackson Movement, working with the late Medgar Evers to try and bring sanity and hope to the students and others who were often beaten, brutalized and even killed for their participation in the movement. 

 
Hunter and I keep in touch; our lives have had some intriguing parallels, since he once lived near Gallup, New Mexico (teaching on the Navajo reservation and helping Navajo Community College). We recently moved from Gallup to Cuenca, Ecuador; 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 in different years -- but he tells me that he often drove or took the train through the small town of Mount Pleasant where we lived before moving to Gallup. Life is so interesting, isn't it? We have never met in person, but have enjoyed conversing by telephone and email, and I find interesting that somehow our paths have crossed, perhaps in another plane.

 
Anyway, I heard from this fascinating civil rights leader today that some people in Mississippi (civil wrongs leftovers) are spreading rumors that he is dying of Lupus, or that he at least is very ill and expected not to live. This is not so, he writes:
_____________
 
Susan then very kindly reprints my post of yesterday -- John III's fine letter and my paragraph of introduction.  We've placed that Pak on my much visited Personal Narrative webpage.  Since that draws visitors not necessarily even vaguely "in the know" about Magnolialand and related kinds of intrigue and such, I have added this explanatory paragraph:
 

"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."  http://hunterbear.org/narrative.htm

Finally, I add this:  My entire life from very young adulthood onward has been spent in social justice organizing and teaching and writing and it's been a very long trail indeed -- campaign after campaign -- that I expect will continue for some time to come.  My fine spouse, Eldri, has been with me at every step since our marriage of almost 52 years ago -- and our good offspring have directly experienced the richness of much of it.  Money has never been an object -- and, frankly, there's been very little of that in our lives.  "Plushy" speaking engagements, again never sought, have been virtually nil.  The very few awards -- and those have been most welcome -- have come from those friends and others directly and empathetically aware of where we are coming from, what we stand for, what we've done and do.

Our grandson/son, Thomas, a physician at the University of Iowa (psychiatry and internal medicine), visited us briefly a few days ago.  In the course of it, we discussed an emerging and very worthy health project of his focused on young Natives -- about which he planned to discuss with the Meskwaki (Fox) people who reside in central Iowa.  I gave him the name of a former student of mine from my University of Iowa days.  I met John B. when I spoke at a local and mostly white high school where he, a senior, was one of the Native kids.  Soon thereafter, he came to the University and was one of the many Indian students with whom I worked -- in addition to my regular classroom teaching in Urban and Regional Planning.  He was an academic advisee of mine, always right there at my office door at the onset of registration. And we had many great talks about Native concerns, traditional cultures, and much more.

Back at Iowa after his too-short Idaho visit, Thomas called John B.  As I had suggested, he immediately indicated he was my grandson.  Soon thereafter, Thomas sent me this note:

I spoke to John B. today. I found his number online and he works at the museum/preservation society. I told him who I was (your grandson) and he was very helpful. He gave me a contact for the Meskwaki Settlement school. . .

Well, John said he thought very highly of you (he repeated this twice).  He said he remembered sitting in your office and that you'd smoke your pipe. He laughed when I told him things hadn't really changed. I wished him best regards from you.   (Thomas, M.D.)

I continue to hear from many of those with whom I've worked as an organizer and/or teacher. They span many decades. Those consistently good words are priceless to myself and my family.

Hunter [Hunter Bear)

______________________

 

From Professor Jim Loewen:  (November 9 2012)

[SNCC-List] Re: Civil Rights Chair at Tougaloo College / John R. Salter Jr., "JACKSON, MISSISSIPPI"


 
Just before Halloween, John Salter/Hunter Gray posted a short essay to this list:
 
WE'RE INTO THE 50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE GREAT JACKSON MISSISSIPPI MOVEMENT. 
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 campaign."

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 http://tougaloo.edu/givetoday/civilrights/index.htm.  Also 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, lmorse224@gmail.com, with any suggestions you might have.

Best wishes for 2013 -- Jim Loewen
-- 
James W. Loewen
Best email address:  jloewen@uvm.edu
HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER JR] Mi'kmaq /St. Francis
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΄
and Ohkwari'
 
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:
(updated 2011) http://hunterbear.org/outlaw_trail1.htm
[Included in Visions & Voices: Native American Activism [2009]
 
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: 
http://hunterbear.org/jackson.htm
 
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): http://hunterbear.org/shooting_lupus.htm
 

 


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