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the It's been all 57 minutes and 40 seconds. Major funding for this program was provided by the Program Fund of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Additional funding was provided by the Grotto Foundation. Hey, bullet hole!
Hey, bullet hole! Get in the food! Yeah, do you want me to shoot down? In the pressure cooker of today's prisons, holding on to one's own inner spiritual identity can become the only way to stay alive. This is the story of American Indian prisoners who have returned to traditional religious practices in order to survive, both on the cell block and in the hole. In the prisons of this country, American Indian religious practices have almost always been misunderstood
and in many instances forbidden. However, since the American Indian Freedom Religious Act was passed by Congress in 1978, Indian religious practices have the legal status of any other religion. Okay, let's check all your medals, how to get past them, watch those, the bill shows. Even today, however, suspicion remains. Indian spiritual advisors are not formally accredited as ministers and priests and always need special permission to conduct traditional religious practices in prison. Lambdaire is a traditional Indian spiritual advisor. He has come to help construct a sweat lodge and to lead prisoners in the traditional sweat ceremony. Thank you. The sweat lodge is the most significant to the Indian tribes in North and South Central America
or wherever there is Indian tribes. For the guys inside the prison system, it is really needed for rehabilitation purposes. The Indian has never been allowed to rehabilitate himself in his own spiritual world in his own spiritual teachings and training. It has made a new outlook on life for those brothers that are inside the prison walls and also the sisters that are inside the prison walls. You have to teach the brothers inside the prisons what the sweat lodge is all about so that we may see our brothers on the outside not to be returning to these places. The sweat lodge is the only place where I know that two enemies can walk in there and come out of its brothers. That's the only place I know. After the sweat lodge has been here for a while and I started sweating
to begin to open new doors up for me. I began to gain a little more knowledge about myself. I gained a lot of wisdom every time I sweat and I get stronger each time. You know, it doesn't look like I come out but I feel good. I feel good about myself and about who I am. It's brought me in better touch with myself and with the surroundings around me. It means a purification, a cleaning of evil thoughts, being closer to myself and being closer to grandfather or our creator. For me, it's given me a better outlook on life, this ceremony, the sweat ceremony, being able to participate in it, being able to talk with people, brothers. I didn't even know the meaning of this sweat lodge until just recently. I've discovered that it was a religion which I had forgotten all about.
If we can keep the sweat lodge this high all the way through it would be nice. It would be like Dennis Bangles, it would look like a missile, why not? There are many things that many people do not know about. Many people always associate the sweat lodge as a glorified sauna. We use lava rocks and certain rocks that represent the earth that come inside the sweat lodge. And when it does, it represents the fire. And it is mixed with the water which when it mixes together it creates steam, what we call grandfather's breath, our sage is also used. There is a certain sage called a white sage. When you use it it smells exactly like a marijuana. So our brothers inside the prisons get busted because of it.
You guys didn't make no tobacco ties, huh? We need 104 of them. Staying in the room. It's an interpretation. Last time it took us how many six hours? Each one wanted to be the boss, last time. I should have brought pulleys blankets out. We still got the big canvas. That's good right there. I don't know what I'm talking about. I'm a traditional Indian, I speak my language. In our sweat lodge, I pray in my tongue.
We sweat. Our sweat lodge is beginning in an opening of all ceremony. What if it's your weepy ceremony, Sundance ceremony, whatever ceremony. That's the beginning. You go in and cleanse yourself, then go into other ceremonies. What makes me angry is when they respect what we respect. Our sacredness, our ego feathers, our pipe, our skull and all that. They want to check it out, like it's a weapon. Face out that way. Yes. As with many sacred practices, the sweat lodge ceremony has its private aspect. And cameras and tape recorders are not allowed. The participants sit in a circle, water is poured over the heated rocks, the intense heat from the steam, the passing of the sacred pipe, the prayers and songs together bring the people closer to the great spirit. Although he doesn't enter the sweat lodge,
the fire tender rose as keeper of the sacred fire is the privileged position. Here in our sweat lodge, we set on mother earth, we have four powers in there. We set on mother earth, we bring the fire power to red hot rocks inside, bring the water power, then we put it water and the steam that air. We put those four powers together inside there. You can't see that power, but you can feel it. The ceremonial pipe is sometimes called a peace pipe. It is a kind of movable altar, and is assembled only when it is used in a ceremony. The pipe is like a white man, it's a Bible, it's a Bible. We smoke our plants in there, our tobacco. The smoke goes up, there's the prayers that we send up. And they never understand that because to them anybody can buy a pipe and smoke. They think we're still playing in this, they don't see us as for real. We are from real from the beginning of time, we are still here.
The spirit of the beginning is still here. We don't have one day out of a week to go to our creator and make him pray and give thanks to him. We don't pray for ourselves. We're different from them because they do it in pitiful, sorry, shameful way. They get on their knees and hold their hand, pray, save me, save me, save me. All the red brothers, when they pray, they don't pray for themselves. They pray for others because another brother in that sacred circle is praying for you. He don't pray for himself. So everything in that sacred circle has been taken care of. With that you taken up yourself. I can't help myself. All my young days, they were all happy.
They were all happy. My grandmother is still living today and still writes to me. She writes in my language, I understand. We had simple prayers like prayer for the plants, the animals, the trees, that she taught me how to pray. I always prayed like that. Then when I grow up, I heard about churches and I go in there and it was a whole different thing. That was a confusion right there because I was brought up in a traditional way of praying. Why I'm here for is because I don't tell them my brothers. And they say, if I testify against my brother, I will be in prison.
Here I am. They had me for first degree murder. Nine counts of temporary murder. They knew who did it. But when I wouldn't testify, they put it all on me. They put the murder on me. And I went to jury trial, so they fired me guilty and gave me seven. Which my release date next year at this time, I will be out. I was thinking about going back to Oklahoma. And let the little seed grow, you know, the seed grow. But then you still have that little wild in you that still isn't really ready to settle. My grandmother raised me since I was a little baby on up to 12 years old.
And she was always saying, I'm a man after I'm 12 years old, I'm on my own. You know, I was scared to be 12 years old, but I was 12 years old. And I went to school there, played sports, got in all sports, did good. And 15 years old, I went to Shilaco, Indian school, stayed there. I got to know the different tribes and different ways. Then when I turned 18, the BIA Bureau of Indian Affairs signed up to go to LA. So I stayed in LA as a welder. All the time you seen big lights were on a new space, right? And I wanted to get in and check it out. So I did, I went in and checked it out. I was in a click, went to the cheek hands. I was the only Indian. They call me Watto India local, right? And like I was just in LA, you know, I'm in 19 years old. When they gave me that name, hey.
All right, you know, hey, that was a mean boy right there. You know, hey, that was a little ride. See how we threw everything. But I grew out of that real quick, and I just see, you know, you find each other and bust each other in all the other. We drunk a lot, but we talked about our old ways, how we was raised up, what we did. Even though we was having that drink, you know, that drunk spirit. But we knew what we were doing, we knew what we were just talking about. We were probably the hardest one on the streets in LA. Like I'm in my cell, locked up, I can look back and think, hey, it was a good hard road, but I tell you what. Nobody ever went through that road like I have, and I enjoyed it. I admit I was drunk once. But they're going to slam you down and beat you in the head, you know. You know, I've seen that, I've always seen that. They brought a lot of angry on you. Why do they do this?
A lot of these white wineos are laying down and drunk and everything. And the cops just go right over and don't even say nothing. But then you get a red skin man, that's their drunk man, ain't bothered nobody. And he's too drunk, even a fire, but the cops are going to slam it down. Body slamming will get some car and handcuff him. I used to observe, I used to check all these stuff out and see what they were doing. You start thinking, way back to Calvary days, what they were the same, uniform, as what they did to your grand grand ancestors, way back to what they did to your ancestors. And that's what they did to me, that's the way I see it, what they did. They have no feelings for you. What's it like ever once they come to the blue uniform on Calvary, that's right, you know. It's a pity the way they are, that's why they look Calvary. But the sweatlights wouldn't hear, sweatlights wouldn't hear, and I couldn't sweat in the sweatlights. Hey, I'd probably be locked up, man, because I wouldn't listen to nobody, you know.
And I would probably have a lot of hatred, that's the only thing that controls me. Maybe I'm mad, maybe I'm angry, maybe something bothering me. I go in the sweatlights and I conduct the sweatlights. Hey, that's new me, that old sonny, that one was mad when there was that angry in his heart. Hey, he ain't no war, man, he got vanished while he was in there, he came out feeling good and feeling happy, you know. And that's what he's speaking, you know. Nothing else can make me feel that way, even running under the sun. Hey, I'm alive, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home, home. I haven't lived that much on a reservation, you know.
When I was a small kid, I really remember living back there with my mom and dad, my antenna. And we only lived back there a couple years ago, and from there they moved to Portland. I grew up in Portland, I went to school in high school there, and as far as knowing any thing about my heritage, culture, and religious ways of my people, I knew nothing. I grew up as a Catholic, I was ignorant about what it is to be an Indian, how hard it is to be an Indian. I didn't respect things that my people respect. In fact, in reality I was ashamed to be an Indian. In school you have different types of groups, you have what they call soosh, you know, the rich, you know, the middle, upper middle class, and they have the hoods, the greases, you
know. And I hung with them, you know, being an Indian, you know, I wasn't accepted into the upper middle class, you know, so I naturally went where I was accepted, you know. And then did what they did, you know, what my next door neighbor did, next thing I graduated from there to juvenile home, when I started my career in a juvenile home, burglary, and little things, and off onto the bad road. And all this time I knew nothing of my Indian religion, I'm living in a completely different life. And then I started with the drugs, I did put some bank robberies and I was different federal penitentiaries, and I got out and you were programmed to come back, more or less. There was no help. Then I pulled arm robber and I candid up here again. When I first came here I was lost, and none of this was for me, you know, it was all
about getting back out and hitting them night clubs. That was my fault, I lived to be out there and be able to dance, drink, drive me cars, get high, and nod out of whatever I wanted to do, I was completely lost. But I'm not lost anymore. Now that we have our sweats, we have our pipe, I know who I am and I'm proud of who I am. I had to come to prison to learn, you know, who I am, what I am.
I came here in 1974, we had to pipe at the time, but I didn't participate in, you know, it was foreign to me, you know, to pick up the pipe. I was so used to picking up the Bible, you know, I knew absolutely nothing about the pipe and how sacred it was to our people. Like I didn't know anything about the sweat lodge until I came here to it, I was born on a former climate reservation, and our reservation was terminated in 1961, and the ending people on my reservation was pretty well assimilated to a domic Society. A lot of our culture and ways of life were taken away from us, who is programmed to be
like the European or the white man. And I knew that someone was wrong, I had black hair and dark skin, you know, but I was acting like a white man. So I was kind of lost too, I was educated by the system, learned to read, and the more books I read, the more angry I got, you know, about the ending people, you know, what the Europeaners did to us, to my ancestors. I think a lot of us ending people fight that 400-year-old war, coming over here, taking our land, and taking our rentals, and hurting mother earth, I didn't know how to deal with that. Then I came to the Penitentiary when I was 18 years old, for killing an end of brother over a drunken argument.
And this only added to the pain that was within me, that after I came to prison, I had to lay down in a surrogation for weeks at a time, and create some more bitterness and hatred within me. And finally, I got out of balance, I hated everything, I hated guards, I hated white people, I hated black people, I hated the system, I hated everything. And this went on for another 13 years, and I ended up taking another life, and I killed the bartender, and I got a life sentence out of that, and that happened in 1973. After coming to the Penitentiary in 1973, I began getting into the ending culture, and then we alive.
I learned a lot in the last nine years of talking to spiritual people, sweating, pipe ceremony. We live across the river, on the reservation, what they call across the river, there's a river that runs through. And on our side, where the Yuhuskin band is snake Indians, which lived across the river. And my grandmother had a sweat lodge, which was made of canvas, and I would help her, because she had a lot of sense, but they were out doing their thing, so we lived prematurely. We had outside toilets, no running water, you got your water from the well. But it seemed like we were all happy for a spat writing. Then later, I was just transported from that environment to the Catholic school.
And then I kind of forgotten all about home, because I was there for four years. And let's say I grew up there in that environment, learning their ways, forgetting I even had any other ways, when I went into DTs, the Catholic religion was the only thing that I had to fall back on to help me. I was in a room by myself with the water dripping from the shower, and day and night until that just threw me up the wall there. I was climbing the walls. I wanted to get out of there. When I was a kid of 13, I committed a crime, which I don't recall at all. I don't remember. I had electric shock treatments when I was 13 years old. They blanked part of my memory out.
I was sentenced to three and a half years in Alderson, West Virginia. And I wound up doing another three years in Washington, D.C. So I mean, I think that I was mistreated, but at the time there wasn't anything I could do. I got seven years. I've been here since August the 20th. I got this job because I didn't have anything to do at first when I came here. Assault two means that you are at the wrong place, at their right time. Some of circumstances, as the saying goes, they frame me. I think for seven years, you have to be here about six months before you go before the
parole board. I think a lot of Indians have a problem with alcohol and drugs. And I don't think that anti-buse and tranquilizers are helping anybody. I think that Indian religion is the answer to the Indians' problems with alcohol. I feel like it helped me. And I think if we learn our own culture and our own religion, that this would help more than anything. The Indian people need their own culture back, that they took away from us. I was born and raised, done in Perman Lake, till about five. And then we moved to Reno, then from Reno I started going to school and I went there for 10 years, then after I got out there about, when I was in about 10th grade.
It's when I started drinking, started running around and after I got into the booze, I went and I'd come in here. Then after I'd been here about four years ago, I got involved into the sweat. And what the sweaters did for me was learned a lot by controlling myself, my attitude, my mind, how it works. I can see what I didn't see when I was younger. It's gotten me away from the booze to where I can say no, I don't want it anymore. Which I don't, it's gotten me closer to my family, my wife, everything. Got me thinking different, give me a more wider view on life to where I can understand it and I'm still understanding a lot. The brothers that goes there with you and they're behind you all the way that what you do and what you say in the sweat, they give you all the support you need, they give you
help. And what you don't understand, there's an universe of five to fifteen people in a sweat with us that would help us and they all have something to say. So one of them would give up a pretty strong suggestion on how I would go about quitting or how I would get a little more support with all the rest of the brothers in the sweat and give up a little support on that. And you'd get a better understanding towards yourself and towards other people. I'm here for Grand Larcy and I'll be expiring and about. I don't know about a year, I guess, something like that. And when I get out of here, I'll be continuing going on to the sweats. The grandpa was nicknamed King, and he was a king, a chief, a sort of thing, had a hard
life. I'm from a big family, nowadays there isn't any way near Indian, the ways, the way we are living today, back then, can't compare it and say Indian. There aren't no horses around, there aren't no cattle around. There's no horses living in there. One of these fabricated assembled houses, nothing. My life is pretty good.
We had a lot of hard times, but we all faced them together. My grandma used to always talk Indian to all of us, and my grandpa, my Lala. I picked up on a lot of this when praying traditionally. I started drinking when I was very young. I had gone away to school and it was a long way from home. I seen a lot of my roommates, dorm mates all doing it and no one twisted my arm. I wanted to, and my first drink was wine, and I was told it was vodka. And it was a homecoming night. I landed in the hospital, I landed in jail. And that was like, and I think I was about 16 years old.
I just remember drinking that day, I just remember drinking. And it kind of makes me uneasy to talk about it because I can't remember. I couldn't defend myself and my child either, because I had no knowledge of what had gone on, but it's all alcohol related. I just, I just, from what I gather, one of my brothers and a lot of us had gotten hit and a hit with the bat. And myself was, I was sober, I don't think I would have did anything while I was drunk. I guess I just had to get into battle too, because he is a brother-in-law, I favor.
I was there, and it was a feud between a woman and a man. And I somehow got myself involved. I had stabbed a guy four times, and according to my PSI paper report, the coroner said the guy would have lived had he gone to the hospital. He more or less drowned in his own blood, I guess. It was real hard for me to talk about this. I can't get over what I did. No matter where I've gone, I've always gotten along great with people. Something that really bothered me about the thing was, about my crime was, when I was being
questioned, they asked me if I would, out of a picture of three men, would I recognize the man? And they showed me this picture, I couldn't show them who the guy was, that I was murdered. I couldn't pick him up, I didn't know who he was. My sentence was for five years, for voluntary manslaughter, from second-degree murder, I couldn't believe murder behind my name, a number, shackled, tight handcuffs, shoved around, a one-block lock-up, four, I'm sure, I'm sure, I'm a lock-up girl, no, let that come near, each one of us need, let's see what's going to happen. I don't want you.
People have talked to me and couldn't believe this crime I'm in here for, because I was supposed to have come from a good family, no, no, this. Frank, if you got a little bit of white over there, and some dark brown. I started when I was in grade school, I saw a picture I wanted to draw, to see if I could draw.
And it turned out not too bad, so I entered it in an art contest, and I got an honorable mention on it. It was interesting. My art teacher couldn't believe I could draw, and she thought that Lloyd had did it. She said, your brother did this to me, I told him no, I did it. And she goes, really? And I go, yeah, I'll show you. And I said, I'll start to draw on a picture, and she said, wow, you really can do it. Ever since I've been going, I entered five of the first drawings that I did in Art Festival. I got three first-place ribbons, a two-second-place ribbons, and a best-of-art show ribbon. I've been going ever since. In the last five years that we've been down, my brother taught me how to draw in colors, and we both been going ever since. Just been kicking them out, left and right. There was our family and one other family that were the Indian families that lived in County Annie.
We didn't let anybody tell us what to do. Sure, a lot of older guys always kicked our butts. Mostly white dudes. That's where we grew up. And our white society did call your high old wife and renegade and savage. Toronto, this and that. So we taught them all, right? Yeah, that's cool. As we started getting older, we started getting tougher and tougher. And then they started leaving us alone. We did our own thing like sniff paint, do gasoline, do what our friends were doing, naturally. A lot of them was into it, so we got into it. I tell them we broke into schools, broke into churches, just for kicks, or something to do. So we got busted one time for stillin' all kinds of tools and stuff out of a trailer house. They arrested us and took a street to Elco, to the boys' school. Well, after we got out of the boys' school, there was a period of about maybe five years. And he went his way and I went mine.
Well, I come back to County Annie and we got together again, you know. And just started partying all over again. Well, my brother and I are both partiers. We was when we were on the streets. We did nothing but went out with Carl's drink all the time and did drugs, you know, mostly marijuana. And we enjoyed it. You know, anytime we could get some money, the town was so small anyway, County Annie, for example. And we had nothing to do. Couldn't get no work, there's no jobs, really looking for kicks. I threw a rock at the cop car. Go ahead and tell him what he can do. Well, we'd started drinking about, oh, it must have been about one, six, seven in the evening, after I got off work. And Van and I, Frank. We have a good friend named Van Garcia. Well, he'd been beaten by this officer. We did a few things that we didn't intend to do, like hit a cop car and, you know, things like that. But when my partner was arrested, I talked to my brother and told him what had happened.
And I started telling him, oh, man, we're going to find out what's wrong with Van and we're going to find out what's wrong with Van, you know, after he told me what had happened to see. And I had anger in me at the time, you know, but I wanted to know if he was all right or not. So we went and got guns and we're going to go down to the police station and find out how bad our friend was. And in case this cop decided he wanted to do the same thing to us, that's the reason we had the guns. So we went in and I went into one part of the jailhouse and Frank went into the judges chambers. And while I was in the jailhouse, I heard shooting. I went in and I told him, all right, hold it right there, you know. Don't make any sudden move, you know. I had the gun pointed on him. And I told the policeman, what did you do that Van Garcia for? You know, I was cussing at him. And before I could finish that sentence, his gun was coming around and it was flame shooting out of his gun this far. And I was shooting through the doorway and he was shooting at me, you know. And it just, a couple of matter of seconds, all this happened.
And I seen him fall over on his side. When he called me, I knew that Frank was shot. And I didn't know if the cop had been shot or not. And the next thing I know, they arrested us for Captain Murder because the cop ended up dying. He just ended up being killed. Well, after I sobered up, I come to realize that, God, what did I do last night, you know. Well, the jury come back with a verdict, a second degree murder. And the judge gave us the maximum for life with five years to the first board. And that was the outcome of it. I feel that we had a fair trial. And we come away with better than what we expected. We're going on our sixth year now. When we first got here, we pretty much did what we wanted to do.
And we weren't very much in contact with the Indian people here on the yard. But we didn't know anybody. And they come in contact with us and they started asking us, well, would you like to participate in some of the things we do? And it sounded interesting to me, because I'd never really known anything like it. And the further I got into it, the better I liked. It shows me that I can do what I want to do. And that there is somebody watching over us, not necessarily a human form of what. But from the things that I've gone through, it can't be nothing else. It makes me feel like we can do things, we can accomplish things when we have to.
And I know one thing, it's made me a better man. Because I know I don't want to go back to the life I laid when I was out before. And there's no way I don't want to go back to that. I'd like for us to become known as American Indian artists, to be able to depict dancers, feathered dancers, animals. Our heritage. Our mom's always told us to be proud as Indians. What's good, it's cool. Well, here, tuck yourselves to that there. Two schools, if they want to leave us a drink. Two schools. Raise hands and a cowloaf. Got any raisins in there? It's busy, huh? Yeah, it's busy. That's a lot of fun. Yeah, it's good stuff, right?
My mom used to make it. When I first learned how to sweat, it was after I started my moon. I was 10 years old. The sweat lodge was built for maybe four women. And it was built up by a creek, which you ran right by. And I didn't like it at first. But I sweated every week with my grandmother and my aunt. And it became part of my life. I didn't understand what they explained to me little by little. I was born and raised on the climate's Moda Reservation for about seven years. That was with my mother. And then I moved to Hupa, California. I lived about eight years with my father. And then my mother had remarried and moved to Portland, Oregon with my poor brothers. And so coming from an Indian background, being more or less isolated, most reservations
are going to school with cousins, brothers, but not. We moved to Portland. Or I moved to Portland and was enrolled in all white school. I had no friends. I had no brothers. I had nobody. And I was angry at everybody. I didn't want to be there in the first place. I found that being tossed in the white society wasn't easy. I was ridiculed and I fought a lot. I just went from bad to worse. I was eight months pregnant with my second child. And my husband tried to kill me and my daughter. Not the baby that was already born, the baby that I was carrying. So I left them and that was five years ago. I was, he had a lot of money when we were married. So I was accustomed to better things. So in order to keep my apartment and we'll code my babies and give them the best,
I had to not only work, but I started dealing. Cocaine, heroin, the lotters, weed, and vitamins, everything. I was not using none of the stuff, not yet. So two years later, after my baby turned about three, I started shooting cocaine. I was shooting cocaine really bad. I probably weighed about 98 pounds. And somebody turned me onto some heroin. And that was that. From then on, it was almost two years of a heavy heroin addiction. I just didn't care anymore. When you use dope, you always have to go and get that fix to have that little bit of money, that fix. It's all you think about. So I gave up on everything else. I gave up on my kids. I gave up on my family. I gave up on everything.
So I went into four trees. And they caught me with 30,000. They convicted me for three felonies. And I was sentenced to five years here. When I first was busted, I was a junkie. When I kicked in jail, I thought I was going to die. I wanted to die. Everything came back to me, my grandmother, my heritage, my spirit. Everything came back to me then. In the prison, you find a lot of anger. You find a lot of depression. You find a lot of hostile feelings around you. All the time, there's always tension. You can feel the tension. When I have a sweat, and when my friends sweat with me, where is one? When we go in, as mad at each other or whatever, we come out as one. We're not mad at each other because all that aggression, all that anger has been drained. And we can be at peace with ourself. The sweat lodge has been torn down about three weeks ago,
and has not been put back up. And there has been no attempt to be put back up. That's what makes me mad. If they need somebody for this to be built back up, I would do it myself. They just don't care. Out on the streets, you know, I'd be sweatin' maybe every three days, maybe every week. Whenever I thought I needed it, I know some of my privilege have been stripped away because I'm in prison. But that doesn't mean that I have to give up my heritage, too. They expect me to lay down. They expect me to give up. I've been fighting since the day I was born, and I refused to give up. The pipe was brought to Penitentiary in 1974, and it took us about a year, I guess, to get it approved by the prison administration. We had to have a chemical test on a connectic, or the tobacco that we used in a pipe.
They wanted to check it out to see if it had any kind of narcotics in her where we could get high. But also, they thought that a pipe may be used to smoke marijuana in it. Different things like this we had to deal with. Grandfather to the south. From my warm winds come. This is for you. To you, Grandfather. Walk on Tonka to Karsla. Join the sacred circle today, Grandfather. This tobacco is for you. This final bit of tobacco here. For the way. The way that we know to have been given to us. After the prison administration found out
that it was serious about our pipe ceremony, we ran into another problem. And that was having spiritual leaders come in here to lead the pipe. We had to submit a proposal to bring spiritual leaders in here. And when we first started out, several times they were denied. Because a spiritual leader doesn't have documentation like a chaplain or a priest. So it's time went on. This one medicine man, our spiritual man, used to come in and visit me, and all to kind of help me deal with the problem in here. So the medicine man told me that to have pee on this, because it had the knowledge that we have, that it wouldn't be making fun of our feathers, which was pretty simple when you think about it. I had to run back to the cell block a while ago, and I'd run back to pick up my eagle feather, because I'd bring it down to a sweat. And I'd come through the control room floor
when the officer says, what are you doing with that pigeon feather? I said, yeah, it's a big pigeon, I said. And he says, is that an eagle feather? And I said, no, it's a pigeon feather, I said. And without me getting mad at them for something, for an ignorant remark that they make towards something that I value, I go about my way. The eagle feather to us is sacred. It's a sacred bird. We take, we have much pride in having an eagle feather. We pray with the eagle feather. Sweat lodge is brought here in January 1979. It took us four years to get it in here. When I go into the sweat, I go back inside myself and deal with different problems that bothers me, like hatred and paranoia and jealousy. A lot of people go into sweat and they pray
for their immediate family. And as time went on, grandfather gave me a little more knowledge and I expand that immediate family to the climate tribe. And as time went on, it went to the climate tribe to the end of the nation. And then the end of the nation it went on to the black person, the black people, and then the white people. And then it went on to the wing people. They expanded on to the four-legged. And then the trees expanded on to the grass, the clouds. And right now my immediate family is all creation. I have a son, 14, and I have a daughter, 13. I haven't been with him much because I've been in a penitentiary. My son, he asked a lot about me because I'm his father.
And in a way he says, I want to be just like you. No, you don't. You can, but you can't. But at that age now, he comes here and he visits me. And he asks questions, you know. And it's good that he asks questions because I want to teach him. I want to teach him, you know, he knows he's Indian. And it's something he's proud of, you know. And he says that to me. He knows I sweat every weekend. He wants me to teach him about the sweat lodge. The sweat brings Indian brother to realize who he is, what he is, and teaches him respect. To love his brother, rather than to be jealous of him, and to help one that is in trouble. He may not be of your tribe, but you help him, he's your brother.
And that's what's going on here now. The only time brothers get an argument is on the basketball court when they play Buffalo Ball, they call it. They don't call it basketball, it's Buffalo Ball. Before then, you might have to worry about going out to the yard and fighting before you leave. There was one of your own brothers. There was a lot of jealousy amongst each other, a lot of violence, trying to prove one's status, one wants to be tougher than the other, and one's better than the other, and you see prison on TV. You gotta be tough, you gotta be the con. I think having the sweat lodge in a pipe and spiritual leaders coming inside has done more for the Indian people inside. It has done more than anything else I've seen in the penitentiary deal. Without the sweat, without the sacred pipe,
we would leave and we would undoubtedly come back again and again. So good luck. Hurry. I MEOW
I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MTT pushes me to a crowded place I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I MEOW I G一起 smells great sounds great This program was produced by Twin Cities Public Television, which is solely responsible for its content. Major funding for this program was provided by the Program Fund of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Additional funding was provided by the Grotto Foundation.
The Great Spirit Within the Hole
Producing Organization
KTCA-TV (Television station : Saint Paul, Minn.)
Contributing Organization
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia (Athens, Georgia)
WQED (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
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"The introduction of ancient American Indian religious practices into prisons is a new phenomenon, begun in the late 1970's following the congressional passage of the American Indian Freedom of Religion Act. Despite continuing resistance by some prison officials, religious traditions of sweat lodges and pipe ceremonies have spread to many prisons with Indian populations. 'Great Spirit Within the Hole' describes how the practice of ancient rites has inspired inmates to discover a new self-identity and provide a means to survive the isolating prison experience. In Nevada and Oregon, prisoners talk about how their lives and attitudes are changed by reconnecting to a cultural and religious heritage symbolized by eagle feathers, white sage, holy pipes, prayer, fellowship and dancing. Frank Bear cub, a Sioux doing time at Oregon State Penitentiary for armed robbery, says 'Now that we have our sweat and our pipe, I know who I am and I'm proud of who I am.'"--1983 Peabody Awards entry form.
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Producer: Spotted Eagle, Chris
Producing Organization: KTCA-TV (Television station : Saint Paul, Minn.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia
Identifier: cpb-aacip-bcf1c6e57a6 (Filename)
Format: U-matic
Duration: 0:58:00
Identifier: cpb-aacip-7584d67d600 (Filename)
Format: Betacam: SP
Duration: 00:57:40
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Chicago: “The Great Spirit Within the Hole,” 1983-09-12, The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WQED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023,
MLA: “The Great Spirit Within the Hole.” 1983-09-12. The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WQED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <>.
APA: The Great Spirit Within the Hole. Boston, MA: The Walter J. Brown Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection at the University of Georgia, WQED, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from