Stanford got out of the hospital two days ago, a little less than six
weeks after he went in. Hooray!

His sister Arilda drove down to Cheyenne to pick him up in her
Suburban (with a mattress laid down so he doesn’t have to sit up),
while his son Daniel ferried Stanford’s wheelchair home in the pickup.
When I spoke to him today, Stan was extremely excited to get out of
the hospital, and even more excited to have his first

He’ll be in bed for a week at least to heal from his bedsore surgery.

heading into the sweat lodge at Stanford's late August

heading into the sweat lodge at Stanford's late August

In other news, I’m sure you’ve read the sad news about the sweat lodge
in Sedona, Arizona, in which two people died a week ago. I’ve been
thinking about it a lot. It brings up a question about the place of
nonnative people in Native spiritual practice. It seems like anyone
of any ethnicity who charges dozens of people $10,000 apiece to do a
five day “Spiritual Warriors” retreat before putting them in a plastic-
lined sweat lodge is going to evoke the wrath of a spirit or two.

For Stanford’s part, he believes that white people (not to mention black and yellow people) came to America in order to learn about the Creator. Spiritual
renaissance, he says, is the main reason we’re all here
together. We live, he says, in the spirit land. His grandpa, a
medicine man, told him so. And when he got his own powers,  his
spirits told him the same thing.

So, how should white folks handle themselves in Native American spiritual ceremonies?

Here are some opinions.

“Indian Spirituality is for Indians only. We had these beliefs and
ceremonies long before the white settlers brought their Bible across
the ocean and they withstood all the assaults by the Church to destroy
them. It is high time the Indian people took them back and closed
their ceremonies to outsiders.”
— unsigned editorial, Native Sun News, Aug.
19-25, 2009

“The absence of water during the heat is really disturbing and
potentially dangerous for a northerner with genes intended for fat and
cold and lots of water. Indians with their dark skin can do things
that we fair skinned people simply are not intended to expose
ourselves to. Witness Sven Hedin’s adventures when more or less all of
the expedition died somewhere in Asia after having resorted to
drinking urine.
My mother knew Sven, who was a famous explorer.
Pay attention to your genetic make up and respect it. You are not an
Indian. Maybe you need to be respectful of that.”

— my Swedish mother, in a letter to me in
2005, in response to me wanting to intensify my involvement in
Northern Arapaho spiritual ceremonies.

“Wannabe!” snapped a young Lakota after ending a conversation with an
eager white man en route to a powwow.
“Wannabe?” replied his grandfather. “You mean, ‘wants to be
— from Dreamkeeper, a 2003 feature film about the Lakota,
past and present
(the quote may not be totally accurate, but it’s close. And
wonderful, lovely, deep, funny movie. Really worth seeing.)

Ciao for now,


Lovely aspens Peter and I saw last weekendI visited Stanford in the Cheyenne hospital last night and I’m here to
tell you that he may be home within a week! This would make his entire
stay slightly longer than a month — which is a whole lot better than
the four months that was being bandied about at first. His surgeon was
Dr. William Wyatt (one of count ’em THREE reconstructive and plastic
surgeons in the state of Wyoming, Dr. Wyatt is my hero as he works all
week on low income patients, confines his tummy tuck and face lift
practice to Saturdays, and spends his vacations in Honduras fixing
childrens’ cleft palates.)

Dr. Wyatt cut into Stan’s ischial bone (the one you sit on) and
removed the dead and infected part of it (a process called “debriding”
the bone), stitched him up, and decided Stan’s home health nurse up on
the reservation can take out the stiches (which I believe are more
like metal staples — they were last time) when he’s healed. Stan is
currently trying to wean himself off heavy-duty pain medication to
expedite the going home process. It isn’t easy, but it’s better than
four months away from home. Last night was fun — my visit coincided
with a visit from Stan’s sister Arilda and her son Sass, and Stan’s
son Daniel (who had been with sleeping on the couch in the hospital
room and generally attending to his dad for 10 days) was being
replaced by Shiloh, a young nephew. It was great to see everyone. Stan
chatted and watched Iron Chef on TV.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to his piggy bank in the last few
weeks — the $1,350 you gave went towards shuttling relatives back and
forth, paying a debt, and paying bills. As Daniel left, Stanford said, “remember to buy hay.”

Oh! In BOOK news, Scribner is happy we’ve done well in the first few months and are already sending me design
ideas for the paperback. I think that may be hitting the stands sooner
than expected. Yay! Meanwhile, I’m turning my attention to getting
some paying work on non-Stan topics from the world of journalism. But
journalism seems to have sort of turned into a pet turtle (is it dead?
why isn’t it moving?) while I was writing this book. Maybe I’ll have
to just write another book. Since they’re so easy to write. I’m
kidding. Okay, I’m signing off;
I’ll write again when there’s more news in the Stan and paperback