This Is My Brother In The Medicine
With Linda’s promptings, I had attended two long dances, four-day events.
The first one was in the Utah Canyon Lands, prior to my living at Linda’s home. The second one was held in Snow Canyon of Southern Utah.
The Canyon Lands ceremony spurred many suppressed memories of my childhood. There were two American Native Elder Medicine People overseeing this four-day ceremony. Vincent was from Canada, and Emma, a Bannock-Shoshone woman from Idaho. I remember being an embarrassment to the entire four-day ceremony event, because I knew nothing of how to conduct myself in this American Native spiritual setting.
I do remember being in a night Sweat Lodge, with about 15 other men and women, leaving my body and being able to see the stars through the top of the lodge coverings with the outline of willows showing themselves. I also remember being submerged in the water of a small stream and looking up at the bright stars that touched something deep in my inner soul. A young American Native woman conducted the lodge. I also remember being given a rope of some kind at the end of the four-day ceremony and wondering why this was given to me. I think I actually threw it away upon coming home.
Shortly after this event, my adopted daughter, Becky, and my sister-in-law, Beverly, took my seven children away from our family’s Summit Park home, and placed them in the custody of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. With the effects of Manic Depression deepening, and the death of my wife, Ilene Hunter, I sunk to the lowest low of my life. I had ceased to function in any responsible manner. Shortly afterward, I was terminated by my long time friend, Mike Cowan, from his company that I had assisted in building into a multi-million dollar organization, Cowan’s Retail Systems. I lost our family’s mountain home, and I was destitute. This is when Linda Stone gave me a room to live in. Linda also befriended all of my children, and was extremely upset in the manner my children were taken away from me.
During this time, I received the early morning telephone call from Chief Little Dove. Shortly after the call, Linda approached me with the idea about going to a Snow Canyon Long Dance Ceremony. I immediately refused to go. For some reason, I did not want anything to do with these weird Indian things. However, Linda was persistent, and finally persuaded me to go, after a few days of badgering. I angrily submitted, and rode in the back of her pickup for the three and half hour trip to Southern Utah. Upon arriving at this incredibly beautiful desert location, I was astounded how many people were already gathered for this ceremony. There had to be more than three hundred people.
I noticed a Sweat Lodge being conducted while we drove into the camping area, and I also noticed people were busy setting up their tents and camps. For some unknown reason, I still did not want anything to do with any of this, so I set up a camp isolated away from everyone.
The next morning, after I returned from an early morning hike, I noticed people had gathered in a large circle. The circle contained three to four people deep; a fire was to the east of the circle. Out of curiosity, I walked over to the west exterior of the circle. I sat behind a rock, about two feet tall and three to four feet long with a slight indentation which enabled me to observe what was going on in the circle (now approximately 400 people) while positioned behind the rock. Slowly, I began to realize people were whispering. They eventually stopped talking altogether.
I noticed that Vincent, the Canadian Elder Medicine Man who had given me the rope at the Canyon Lands Ceremony, standing in front of the fire, his back toward the inner circle. He stood there for sometime, seemingly studying the fire. One could sense people becoming restless. I remember saying to myself, “The old man must have forgotten his lines.” Just as these thoughts began to dissipate, Vincent turned around, walking directly towards me. He stood at the edge of the inner part of the circle, pointed at me, and said, “Come here.” I said, “What, who me?” “He retorted, “Yes, YOU, come here!”
I remember being in shock. I also remember thinking ‘What the hell.’ I don’t even want to be here, let alone follow this old man’s commands. However, I did what he asked, and immediately moved away from the rock, feeling like a little child being scolded. People made way for me to enter the circle. As I approached Vincent, he immediately reached out and put his arm around my shoulder and said, “You are going to open up this ceremony.” I exclaimed, “I know nothing about this stuff!” He calmed me by saying “It’s alright, I will show you how.”
Around 10:30 p.m. the second evening of the actual dance, I was sitting around a fire with three other people, engrossed in a discussion concerning the beauty of the American Native Culture. I happened to look up from the fire, and noticed an attractive, tall, woman with long black hair, dressed in white, observing the four of us in our conversation. I invited her to join us. She then respectfully sat down on a log situated on the right side of me. She introduced herself to the group as Gwen. She had just gotten off from work and had heard about some type of ceremony going on in Snow Canyon. She also shared with us that she was a massage therapist, and that she worked at the Green Valley Spa in St. George, which was approximately a 30-minute drive from where we were.
As the evening progressed further, I shared with the group that I was very ill and that my tribal chief had suggested I might find some assistance from Peyote. I also shared that I had gone to the BYU library after the telephone conversation with her. I had studied every book the library had concerning Peyote. I discovered there was a ‘Roadman’ (Medicine Man) who lived in southern Utah, Clifford Jake. Later on, as the discussion moved to another topic, the attention of the group focused away. Gwen gently grasped my forearm and quietly shared with me. She knew Clifford and he had saved her life. She also committed that she would talk with him to see if he would be willing to see me. Shortly afterward, I walked Gwen to her car and we exchanged phone numbers.
The following early afternoon at the beginning of the completion of the Long Dance Ceremony while I was standing arm and arm with other ceremonial participants, Vincent came up to me. He again put his arm around me, brought me to the center of the ceremonial circle and declared: “This is My Brother in the Medicine, hear his words.”