Is Religion Culture…Navajo…Crow…and Native Culture

I grew up in a Hungarian German family where my grandparents on both sides spoke the language and still maintained many of the traditional values and culture…and if food is part of culture then my Hungarian side won the battle hands down. I crave good pastry here in Montana! I also had my first beer at Thanksgiving when I was four years old while my German Grandfather laughed and my mother yelled at him. I love good beer and moonshine I guess it is just being raised in the country as a redneck. I live among Indians and yet I am not – I know who I am and have respect.

I look around today and I have lived in three countries and two “sub-countries”. Guatemala had amazing culture – from the twenty year old breast feeding on the street while a “missionary” chastised her for being “exposed” and I looked on thinking “and churches give this guy money”. South Korea was three years of total cultural, food, language, immersion that expanded my world view.

Plenty-Coups - I love this Crow and respect his story!
Plenty-Coups – I love this Crow and respect his story!

The two “sub-countries” I have had the privilege living in are the Navajo and Crow Reservation. These two Native American tribes while rich in heritage seem at times to be struggling to maintain their culture. I remember Tullie Yazzie speaking in Pinon, Arizona 1998 Navajo Reservation – “we began to rapidly lose our youth and our culture when satellite dishes popped up around the reservation”.

Now to the core thought – what is American Culture? Materialism, Credit Cards, Red States and Blue States? Red Pill – Blue Pill?

Sometimes, I believe that religion has been substituted for a lack of culture in America to the denigration or misunderstanding of real culture in Native America. Native people have culture that oft times is mistaken for religion and like the twenty year old breast feeding on the street – it is denigrated, chastised and misunderstood. I have been to so many beautiful ceremonies celebrating puberty, cleansing, celebrating birth and laughter, Sweat Lodge – but these are not religion they are culture.

Medicine Men, I have been to real and fake…like an old medicine man in Pinon said “if they give you a price list pretty good indication they are fake…”. I also have been healed by a great medicine man that has my thanks, my love, and admiration – so do not confuse a medicine man with a minister! I look forward to cleansing at Sundance this summer here in the Wolf Mountains, Lodge Grass, Montana.


My faith has preserved me and my understanding of religion has grown to be a much more tolerant soul.

Peace –

Navajo Rug – and a call to an old friend –

Posted on my Facebook this morning is a beautiful Navajo Rug. My buddy is looking for an appraisal. I start the task of checking around and wishing I could just call Bruce Burnham at his Trading Post. I just hate to bother him…080305RBBurnham

I call a couple people that know rugs and try to get prices together and yet…

Bruce Burnham is a living legend that knows rugs, history, and never ceases to amaze me! I have seen him look at a rug and name the weaver and when she wove the rug – today was no different. 1796517_10202030914798012_1249001073_n

I call down to Bruce Burnham’s Trading Post in Sanders, Arizona and told the lady about the rug – she said “ya gotta call Bruce and ask him – he is not in and I have no idea when he will be” here is his cell…

I hate calling people and bothering friends –

I call him and explain who I am – he knows me – but it has been about four years – anyway…

I describe the rug and I can see him smiling through the phone – I explain that it is an odd cross between a Two Grey Hills and a ? Crystal…he explaines that JB Moore developed the Crystal Weaving patterns and that after his “Rug Empire”collapsed his designs filtered across to Two Grey Hills weavers – that incorporated both patterns into some truly unique rugs. This rug is unique because it is an example of a Two Grey Hills that retained the “love of red” which was ever-present in JB Moore’s designs – red was later filtered out by the Two Grey Hills weavers –

We went on to talk about family and Navajo words “Yabonee” which roughly translates driftwood that stuck on a sandbar and did not move. He tells me how he tracked two different rugs and found the lineage of a young Navajo lady that was so far removed from her tribe through adoption but re-united through rugs!

This diatribe really has no more point than my love for stories, our elders, and Navajo rugs…


Mojo barking at seemingly nothing – Skinwalker?

So, I have the  best black lab in the world! His name is Mojo and he is ancient and bonded to me. We are never apart. He is always happy and always ready to go! Some of the Crow people tease me because he is always sitting in my old truck.

Mojo the Sage
Mojo the Sage
always together
always together

Four different times now he has gone crazy angry chasing and barking at seemingly nothing? It started two weeks ago when he was barking and went after something in the house in the middle of the night. The next morning when we were way outback on the ranch he was looking at something and barking and barking as we came closer. Yesterday was the most abnormal barking, we were sitting in the front room about two in the afternoon basking in the warmth of a huge fire and Mojo just started barking at something in the doorway. He jumped up and went after it and I grabbed my ever-present shotgun and followed. Nothing – he went to the sliding glass door and barked. I looked and looked but nothing. I praised him and we went back into the living room all the while he had a low growl followed by an occasional bark. It was the oddest thing I have experienced.

I was reminded of Balaam’s donkey seeing the angel in the road in Numbers 22: 21-39. Moving to the ranch I have seen some odd abnormal unconventional things and sensed a “presence”. It is interesting that late at night an owl has taken roost across the river from the house and then last night in the pines a few feet from the house.

I do not know if Mojo sees something that I am unable to see – but my guess is that whatever he sees is not a benevolent angel as in Balaam’s case and I trust my dogs instinct. I remember years back when I first became aware of Skinwalkers and the neighbor (Navajo) told me get a cat they always sense the presence.

Just wonder if anyone has any thoughts on this?