Thirty-nine years later, suffering from manic depression disease, grieving the death of my wife Ilene Hunter Fredrichs Mooney from cancer, losing custody of my 7 children and fighting my own personal demons on a daily basis, I had hit the lowest realm of my life’s existence. I was living at Linda Stone’s home in a room she had provided. It was still dark outside when the ringing of the telephone next to my bed awakened me. I was sleeping on the floor.
I answered with “Hello”
A woman’s southern accented voice asked
“Is this James Mooney?”.
“Yes it is.”
She asked with strong emphasis on the ‘Warren’
“James Warren Mooney?”
I replied again.
“Yes it is.”
Then she stated “Welcome home, we have found you.”
The name that was attached to the southern accented voice was Principal Chief Little Dove Buford of the Oklevueha Band of Seminole Indians of Orange Springs Florida.
Chief Little Dove, with this first early morning telephone call, informed me that her tribe had been looking for me for at least 20 years. Her tribe had knowledge of my existence through stories that my grandparents, James and Ella Mooney, had shared with her father, Chief Black Bear, during the tribe’s yearly Green Corn Ceremonies. The Green Corn Ceremony of her tribe had been holding these ceremonies in this particular location– Orange Springs, Florida historically known as ‘Harjo Town’ for more than 150 years. The days these ceremonies are held are quietly announced, and are still guarded with armed guards behind locked gates. With this telephone conversation, she also informed me of some of the reasons she was motivated to find me. The primary reason was my direct lineage and connection with the famed Osceola (ah-see-oh-la), William ‘Billy’ Powell, 1804-1838. This lineage, combined with hers, would enable the Cox-Osceola Seminole Indian Reservation to become federalized. This was a desire she was against but her tribal council was for. She also informed me I was the great grandson of James Mooney, the renowned Smithsonian Institute ethnologist, who I was named ‘specifically’ after.
In subsequent phone calls, I revealed to her that I was extremely ill with manic depression disease, and that the massive daily dosage of 1800 milligrams of lithium was not working. My wife just recently died, and I was about to lose total custody of my children, due to my inability to function. She informed me that the American Native Medicine people in the West had a medicine she thought would cure me. It was called Peyote.
Initially, I did not take Chief Little Dove’s stories with much creditability at all. As a matter of fact, if it were not for my friend, Linda Stone, I would not have continued my daily telephone correspondence with Chief Little Dove. Not only did Linda supply me with the phone but she encouraged me to take Little Dove seriously. At this particular time, I was spiritually depleted, numb to my feelings, and a physical wreck. At the time, I remember resenting Linda’s good efforts to get me to honor Little Dove’s stories concerning my heritage, especially the part about my one-year visit with my grandparents in southern Missouri, when I was three years old.