I was born and raised on the Northern Cheyenne and Crow Reservations of Montana. I am an enrolled Indian, and I am a Breed.
My first book, SEVEN ARROWS, introduced the Medicine Wheels to the world, for the first time. It also revealed, to our modern world what the Indian wars were like from the Indian and Breed perspective. After SEVEN ARROWS was published, I traveled extensively, lectured, and was a guest teacher at a few Universities in the United States and Germany.
Beginning in my youth, I had the greatest fortune to become the apprentice of the brilliant and powerful Zero Chief, and Holy Woman, Estcheemah. She was a Mayan Breed Indian who was born during the bloody and sorrowful Indian Wars of the late 1800's. She was one of the wisest and most powerful Medicine Chiefs of her time, and a Carrier and teacher of the Medicine Wheels. She taught of the histories and sophisticated knowledge of the Zero Chiefs.
It has taken me over twenty years to prepare myself and discover how to share with the world - - - the story of my most precious teacher, Estcheemah, and the ancient Self Discipline she taught. I needed time to mature, to contemplate the true face of Greatness that Estcheemah revealed to me.
For over a decade I have traveled extensively with my partner in writing and medicine, my wife, Swan Storm (Stephanie Leonard-Storm). She has also devoted many years of her life, supporting and contributing much to this endeavor.
I am the Founder and Director of the Spiritual organization - The Circle of the Earth Temple and Institute, and the Founder and Director of the International School of Metis Art. I am an artist and teacher, as well as a writer. Many of my students are selling their work throughout the United States and Europe. They make exquisite art.
I tell all of my students to strive to treasure our Living Earth and look to Her for the symbols and meaning in their Art. Consequently, all of our art is, in some way, an honoring of our Living Planet and also a celebration of the many diverse cultures and peoples, throughout human history, who have loved and cherished our Mother Earth. Our Art is dedicated to the Beauty and Natural Balance of Mother Life.
In this way we have found our common ground, our Earth heritage, which bridges across race, gender, culture, religion, and all other human invented boundaries. The responsibility and care of our Earth is in our hands, as Earth Citizens.
These are all questions that I once asked about myself -- and have continued to ask for these past sixty one years to understand.
No one had ever written about the Medicine Wheels before SEVEN ARROWS. Yes, there have been a lot of look-alike Hyemeyohsts Storms out. Some of them have had visions of Medicine Wheels since my work was published in 1972 -- and most of the look alikes have had a loto more to say about Medicine Wheels than I have.Actually my books: SEVEN ARROWS, THE SONG OF HEYOEHKAH and now LIGHTNINGBOLT are simple and very direct in what they have to tell about Life and my learning. Many times the people who read my books are much more complicated than anything I have ever written. I was one of those more complicated people when it came to understand. Probably that was why I was always asking about Sacred Life and who I was in the scheme of things. No doubt that is why I began to learn with Estcheemah -- I needed answers.
Despite the fact that people have known me through my books for twenty four years -- I thought I might talk to you a little about my personal history on the Reservation and how I grew up in Montana. Hopefully, this will give you an insight of how my life was changed when I met Estcheemah, my Teacher. I will remind you that this story of my youth took place through the awful years of the Second World War and the Korean War. Things have changed mightly in our world since the War in Viet Nam.
As you know I am an enrolled Northern Cheyenne Indian and half Breed. I was born to my mother Pearl Eastman. There are many Eastmans living on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation and we are related almosto to everyone on that Reservation. When I was five or six years old, my (German immigrant) father died and my mother moved from the Cheyenne Reservation to the Crow Reservation in Lodge Grass (on the Little Horn River). The reason for this was because she had more of her sisters living on that Reservation that the Cheyenne Reservation -- so that is why I grew up on the Crow Reservation.
I have always felt that I had the right to speak (and write) (as an enrolled Cheyenne) and an American Breed Indian -- yet, the discourse that continues to snap at my heels is bizarre in many ways -- because it centers upon me being a Breed - more than it does of me "exploiting the Native Way". In Twenty two years I have not exploited anything -- including the notoriety of my work. The fact that a Breed is telling the story galls my worst critics. People do not have to be full blood italian to have knowledge of Catholicism, but it seems that blood makes a person enlightened instead of experience and learning.
Beside this strange mentioned paradox -- the other misunderstanding is that some people think (or believe) that I learned from my teachers to ultimately write a book about the Medicine Wheels and Sacred WahKahn and Sskawn. This is absolute nonsense.
I was a typical "Reservation kid" -- which meant I was part of the poor, homeless and parent-less children who roamed the reservations (both Crow and Cheyenne). My mother, was very, very poor, unskilled, uneducated and without a husband for many years. This kind of "social problem" (that few will be brave enough to admit -- especially at the time) spells certain social death for a young woman with too many children on the Reservation.
We were five hell hounds, five boys. The youngest, Everette, of my brothers remained with my mother -- while Perry, my older brother, (whose father was Martin Spotted Horse) Buck, Roy and myself "ran wild on the reservation". We were not thought to be "nice kids" -- and we weren't. At the time we homeless were called "bum children". Not bums like beggars, but "bums" like bum lambs or calves -- calves that have no mother.
Yes, I stayed in many boarding schools -- and when I was there I liked the food and clean sheets -- all we reservation bum kids did, (it was also a place where we did not have to be afraid) -- but we constantly ran away because we did not want to be imprisoned in schools. Kids like myself were sent to boarding schools because we were "wild wolves and poor" -- not because we needed education. Actually, all we kids, browns and Breed alike, enjoyed the safety and warmth of the government boarding schools and at the same time hated them.
My Breed family did everything they could to ignore the awful plight of we homeless and poor reservation kids. Why was because they too were afraid and had their problems with their drinking husbands. They looked away -- choosing to believe that somehow my mother "was making it", but that was a hopeless belief -- because my mother had no hope of feeding and clothing us.
I was ashamed of this for years. Each time I would meet one of my other brothers we would be instantly into an argument -- why, was because we were feeling ashamed and somehow guilty. We felt, somehow, that we were the ones at fault -- do you know what I mean? Yes, we all lived with "Blanket" Indians because no one elese would have us. As you know "Blanket Indians" were the old ones.The old Indians (the people who loved me and raised me) -- all we homeless children lived with -- were poor and pretty much lived hand to mouth. So when I hear from many people that of "how many times I had run away from boarding school" -- you must understand that I do not consider this to be an accusation of "bad deportment". We all, I ran away many, many times -- it was the thing to do.
We all are now survivors of a very terrible time -- our growing up on the Crow and Cheyenne Reservations. Ninety percent of the males on these reservations were alcoholics and men without work or much pride left. My brown uncles were called "Blanket asses" by white man and were not respected -- even though many of them had been highly decorated for being brave soldiers during World War II and Korea. At the time, here in America, "Niggers" were beaten on a normal basis and the Mexican people were thought to be dogs and slaves. No -- those were not happy times for me -- for any of us.
So when I was a young teen and the Chiefs began to teach me -- it gave me hope --hope to somehow survive my awful ignorance and shame. Write a book! What a joke! I had a reservation accent so thick -- it took seven years of teaching from Mary Ann to get me to sound like I was talking English!
Write a book? No ...no. Was it a matter of the Chiefs saving my life -- yes. That was the way it was.
As you know -- on all the Reservations there is the incredible truth of the People -- Yet all the while there is also the strange blending together of the Old Ways, brillance, ignorance,riches, poverty, Christianity, love, hate, deep Native roots and our modern world. And matching this enigma and wonder is also the massive contradiction of supertitious local Tribal beliefs -- historical renditions of what is "authentic", Sweat Lodges, discontent, rodeos, Christmas, powwows, wonderment and every kind of human learning -- this is enough of a social puzzle to confound even the wise. I was a kid -- I only knew my sorrow.
My answer to all this puzzlement and contradiction was to be violent. I would blow up with the slightest breeze. My brother Buck's answer was to be a thief -- he was in and out of prison (by the way to be in a local jail was a badge of pride for our uncles -- prison was normal for most of the men). Perry eventually drank himself to death. Roy hit a bridge at a hundred and fifty miles an hour and my closest friend killed himself in the most awful of ways. Rufus Iron hand was shot to death. Charles Crazy Mule was beaten to death. Bobby Foote pulled the jack out from under the car (he was "working on") and committed suicide. And on and on the bloody, confused and bitter list goes. Violence and death was everyday to all of we Breeds and Full Bloods alike -- we were equal in our hate, our sorrow, our love and awful loneliness.
I tink that the Chiefs, especially Estcheemah, chose us because we were doomed anyway (and possibly) they thought that if we could survive our reservations -- we could survive the non-Indian world too.
Medicine Wheels? No -- that kind of deep teaching did non come at first. Old lady White Hip, the Yellowtails, old lady Rattlingtail, McKinley Backbone, old lady Sun Goes Slow -- others -- they gave me a silver dollar and a little tobacco -- aplace to sleep and something to eat. They stole their husbands shirts for me. I ate good soup and was not afraid to cry when I was with them. They understood my hate and desperate confusion. My first deep teaching was that they did not judge me. Wgat more can a little boy understand?
I tell you this sad story because the years have gone beyond that point where I had need of people understanding my plight as a child -- yet I must speak of how I was afraid and a child alone. In my book SEVEN ARROWS (all my books) I have told the story of the People because it was the story I was taught.
I am not the only Chief who speaks of the need to share the Teachings with our sisters and brothers of the world.
The question that is constantly asked me is why I and other Medicine men teach non-Indians about our Native American spirituality -- and of course why I share my own spiritual experiences. The paradox of all my books is that the Indian message that they possess is being disseminated accross cultural and tribal boundaries. In other words, Indians in America are reading about their own Medicine Wheels -- through my books.
I believe, like the Estcheemah, the holywoman and Thero Chief, -- Fools Crow the Oglala holyman and ceremonial chief of the Teton Sioux, The Crow Sun dance Chief Tom Yellowtail, Martin Highbear Medicine man of the Pine Ridge Sioux, and many others Native American teachers and Spiritual people when they have made reference to the Pipe and the Rainbow Lodge ("sweat lodge") -- they have all said:"These ceremonies do not belong to Indians alone. They can be performed by all who have the right attitude (of Sacred Creation) -- and who are honest and sincere about their beliefs in Wakan Tanka (Great Spirit) and have learned how to follow the rules of the People".
Swan and I are traveling to many lands and speaking with people everywhere who want to hear about Sacred Life. When we spoke at the American Embassy, in Tel Aviv -- we were given the honorary title of "Ambassadors to Mother Earth". That pretty much sums up our feelings about what we are doing too.
The people of the "Old Ways" were very different than their children -- meaning the generation of my mother's age. It can be safely stated that the "generation gap"that exixted between my mother's age group and the people of the Old Ways was massive.
The People of the Old Ways were educated as to how to live as an Indian -- where-as this was simply not the case with the next generation of my Tribal family.
You must always remember that the People of the Old ways HAD SURVIVED an awful war of genocide. They had to learn HOW TO INTEGRATE and get along.You can understand this example if you will consider the immense change (in life styke and education - how your grandparents knew how to live their culture) -- and how different this is between (you) and the people of our modern generation.Understanding the great Depression (or the Second World War) and what it meant to your parents is impossible for (some of) our youth to comprehend.
The extremity of the example and its social and religious ramifications (for the Tribes of America) goes far beyond this innocent example I just gave you. The break-down came fore-most with the welfare state (the Burea of Indian Affairs) that all Indians learned to live with. This kind of perpetual governmental welfare gave Americ'a Indian population a very strange picture of what America was and is. Alcohol was the next awful extremity. Too much of the time "Christianity" alone is blamed for the denigration of the native culture; however, I would agree more with Estcheemah and say that it was a large combination of things that did the job.
These forces of destruction are books about Indians. Indians are avid readers of what was and should be an authentic Indian -- after all they are people aren't they? There are all kinds of "how to" books that were written by anthropologists) -- never intending them to become an authority source. You cannot leave out the immense attention that is focused upon the political Indians by our government -- this has given rise to the Indian with the right look. University scholars and students have shown ordinary people (Indians on our Reservations) that they are somehow VERY DIFFERENT and are SOMEHOW INDIAN and unlike other Americans. This kind of propaganda has become a coup de force -- commanding the Reservation Indian to look like the expected image. Of course the massive attention that the movies, magazines, radio (and the millions of tourists that visit our reservations nation wide) -- has also become a dynamism, commanding the Indian to be the INDIAN OF EXPECTATION. This all pervasive, new social - driving - force became a means for making a living for many people on the Reservations in America.
Racism. Racism is an all pervasive counteraction that exists on all America's reservations. This one awful fact alone (with all of its negative ramifications) is a subject NOT TALKED ABOUT, in polite academia. However, how can the modern American Indian be understood (by Indians) -- or non-Indians--if this subject is not broached. I say this because this one fact alone is at the core of hate words that have been leveled at me. This is also the bloody wound that has not been healed between different Tribal groups.
An Essay by Hyemeyohsts Storm
Yes, standing at the top of a lofty mountain teaches us differently than when we sit by our fire or walk by a rushing stream. This grand teacher is different than those times when our face is wet with the rain and we are crying for a loved one - yet they are the same in that they oil teach us while we Live. Christ was baptized with water and so were many other gods - such as Buddha and Vishnu. But why water? Why did any god have need to be baptized by Earthly Water - don't you think this is a good question? The answer is, of course, that we all are baptized by LIFE - WATER the very moment we are born. There has never been a more appropriate symbol as Water for introducing us Spiritually and Physically to our Mother Earth - to our Life. This has been forgotten during these last couple thousand years. No Matter what our race might be, or our culture, our gender, or religion - learning about our relationship with our Living Planet is the greatest need that now faces all of humanity. Never before in history have we been so far away from understanding and Honoring Sacred Life. Our Earth is our greatest Teacher while we live.
More and more youth around our Earth are discouraged with irresponsible industrial exploitation - and the radical attack of extremist social and religious beliefs. These outmoded ideas and beliefs are destroying our beautiful and nourishing planet. Our urgent need to learn of our essential relationship to life and to respect the intricate Balance of our Earth is growing every day.
We can begin to meet this growing need of our youth by studying the knowledge and discipline of the scholars, teachers and healers from the ancient Americas called Zero Chiefs. These Chiefs were extraordinarily perceptive and profoundly sophisticated in their understanding of Self Balance and living in harmony with our Earth. Their Earth wisdom transcends all human created boundaries and honors all religions and races equally. They were the first to discover the Earth Science and Spiritual Philosophy called the Way of the Medicine Wheels. These clear thinking and powerful Teachings of the Zero Chiefs, who are the source of this ancient knowledge, speak directly to our modern concerns - showing us how we can begin to regain Balance within ourselves and in our world. ª Hyemeyohsts Storm.
Hyemeyohsts Storm is the renowned Native American and German mixed blood teacher and writer who published his best selling classic book Seven Arrows in 1972. Seven Arrows is currently in its 45th printing in America and has been published in German and Japanese. In Seven Arrows he introduces for the first time ever written the Way of the Medicine Wheels to the modern world. In his new book Lightningbolt, published in U.S.A. in 1994 - he continues the story of where Seven Arrows left off. Lightningbolt will be published in Germany in 1997.
Hyemeyohsts' books are a source of knowledge that are widely used in universities, healing clinics and other educational institutions. His books reveal HOW Earth is our great Spiritual and Physical Teacher in Life. His works have become an irreplaceable guide for many psychologists, psychiatrists, doctors, healers, professors, historians, philosophers, environmentalists, ministers, lawyers, poets and artists around the world.
Hyemeyohsts and his partner in life and Teaching, Swan Storm, began their world tour in 1995 - reintroducing the ancient Earth Wisdom of the Zero Chiefs to people from all cultures around the world. They reveal HOW to bring the Balance and Wisdom of these Earth Teachings into our modern lives and how to make this information pertinent to our time. This can be attained when we learn to recognize and honor the Spirit of our own Lands - and understanding that each land is a Holy Land.
The 1995 international tour comprised twelve cities in the U.S. and three countries in Europe and the Middle East - which included addressing the United States Embassy in Tel Aviv. At the culmination of their world tour last year, the Storm's were acknowledged for their tireless work in sharing their Knowledge by receiving the Honorary title of Ambassadors of the Earth. For the next few years they are dedicating their primary effortsto this teaching, in hopes of reaching a broad spectrum of people who want to learn how to develop a more sophisticated and intimate relationship with our Living Earth.
Swan Storm is a mixed blood American woman who was born and raised on the West Coast of America to parents who were both famous film makers in the early days of American television. Swan worked for years in film - however, later she left the film world in search of her own unique vision and path of learning. After graduating from the University, having studied History, Philosophy, and Psychology, her search to know more of Earth, Life, and of the Human Self continued. She began studying with very special Native American scholars and teachers and eventually joined in partnership with Hyemeyohsts Storm.
For over fourteen years Swan
Storm has studied the Knowledge and Ceremonies of the Zero Chiefs
and their Medicine Wheels. Concerning the challenges that face her
in sharing these important Teachings with people of all cultures in our
modern world - she has said :
´ For centuries this vital knowledge has been secreted among the Zero Chiefs to protect and preserve their wisdom in its pure form. This was done because it often contrasted in essential ways with the more pervasive cultural belief systems that have primarily taught that our Earth is either a place of "demons and devils" - or that we should endeavor to "escape" or "transcend" Life. Earth is also called a place of "dead matter" - to be used and abused without environmental repercussions of any nature. The irresponsible have acted as if our own evolution and existence could be divorced from our Living Planet - and never dreamed that their Ignorance could destroy our world.
It is time, as we approach the twenty-first century that these kinds of beliefs, which have alienated people from their intimate Teacher and Spiritual Guide, Our Sacred Living Earth - should be challenged and transformed. The profound Earth Science and Spiritual knowledge of the Zero Chiefs, will be one of the greatest guides in bringing about this balance between humans and our Living Planet - this will be the great transformation of our new century.
During their 1995 tour Hyemeyohsts was asked in Washington D.C. what it is that he and Swan wanted to accomplish in their first major Teaching Event - called MEETING OUR EARTH. And in response to this question he wrote the following words :