Tuesday, September 26, 2006


35 - what does it mean? Well, for one thing, it's the age I became today. Yes indeed, it is my 35th birthday. What am I doing for it? Not much. But this weekend, there will be a party. It'll be a double party actually, as my lovely wife turns 29 on Thursday. So come on down for the festivities... if you dare.

In honor of my birthday, I've included the front side of my junior year trapper keeper. The back side was included in yesterday's entry on Mrs. Mull. This side is not as coloful. But it's just as odd nonetheless. The main thing you see is a wanted poster for a guy named Martin Eder. Richard Wheeeler and I had gone to the post office in Manitowoc, and had stolen all of the wanted posters. We each put one on our trapper. Incidentally, I don't know what Martin Eder's fate was. But I do know tha he died in 1995. You can also see three pictures of Charles Manson, and one of Mike Tyson. The photograph in the lower right is Dave Svatek. There's also an address label near the top. If you zoom in on it, you'll see it was from a magazine sent to fellow graduate Mike Zeman. Lastly, there's a few words scattered about, along with a band-aid. What does it all mean? I have no idea. That trapper keeper was a representation of who I was when I was 16-years-old.

Now I'm 35. And I'm still here. How cool is that?

UPDATE - 10/16/06 - Believe it or not, I found an article relating to Martin Eder. It was written by a former friend of his - a guy who was the best man at Eder's wedding. The internet is an amazing place.

This is a big excerpt repeat-post with the initial introductory portion
omitted here. [The full piece is all on our website.] This introductory
note -- February 9th 2005 -- is, of course, new.

Certain contemporary discussional rivers in some quarters are presently
focused on Native matters which may be confusing to those new to Indian
sociology and politics. And, believe me, those are always highly, highly
complex dimensions. If this were, for example, my old course on Intro to
Indian Studies and some others of mine, we could get into at least some
innards. But space here is short and I do want to talk about an old, late
activist buddy of mine, Martin Many Wounds [or Martin Eder],
Assiniboine/Sioux. This of mine is not just motivated by the Churchill
thing -- but, in large measure by the fact that Martin's former wife,
herself an old old friend, Donis [Dawn] Mitchell of the Meskwaki Nation, is
facing imminent cancer surgery at Iowa City. Donis calls, writes, e-mails
with frequency. She could really use everyone's prayers and good thoughts.

They were married in the winter of 1973 at Chicago. At that point -- and
this had been the case for two previous years -- our local and almost twenty
year old American Indian Center [the first of its urban kind in the United
States], was caught up in turbulent factionalism. Donis and Martin were
well known and broadly popular young people. When the marriage ceremony
occurred at a small storefront church in the multi-ethnic Uptown district,
with Martin's uncle, a clergyman from the Fort Peck res in Eastern Montana,
officiating, the basic unity that almost always ultimately pervades and
prevails among Native peoples was much to the fore. An older, good friend,
Bill Redcloud [Chippewa] gave Donis away; I was Martin's best man. A major
factional foe [Chippewa] played the piano. Susan Kelly Power [Yanktonnai
Sioux] from "our side" was present. Another factional foe [Chippewa] sat
with his large family. An Oneida family aligned with us was much to the
fore. And there were many others.

The wedding was a pleasant affair and, afterward, "our side" gathered at our
Uptown apartment for a kind of ad hoc reception. Pizza was ordered and some
folks had wine. We sat at a very long and accommodating walnut-with-inlay
table [which we still have, of course] that had been recently given to us by
an apartment neighbor, Mrs Geller, widow of a druggist. [It had recently
helped accommodate a large reception for Floyd [Red Crow] Westerman, the
noted Sisseton Sioux singer.] My youngest son, Peter [Mack], probably still
in diapers, had secured a small goblet of wine which he was sipping like an
old street veteran. The pizza man arrived, to be greeted joyously by Mack
at the door who, waving his glass, yowled, "I yike wine." Visibly stunned,
the case-hardened pizza person quickly turned over the food and fled.

[I should add that, as soon as Mack graduated in Journalism from UND in '92,
he joined Lee Enterprises which quickly made him State Editor of its
Bismarck Tribune. Then, off to Anaconda Montana, with the chain -- and then
to Lincoln where he is presently a key editor in Lee's very large Lincoln
Journal Star. In one of our long phone conversations the other day, he
casually told me that he now has 22 reporters and five editors under him.
[Remembering the diapers, this is somewhat mind boggling.] Lee Enterprises,
which now owns papers all over [many in the West], has just bought those at
Flagstaff and Tucson. When I asked Mack, reasonably enough, "When are you
folks going to buy the New York Times?" he didn't exactly discount that
possibility, adding -- reasonably -- "It's better to buy than to be bought."

Well, can't really argue with that.

The factional fight at the Indian Center wound up in a state court where,
finally, a visibly weary and somewhat confused judge ordered a new board
election. He also mandated that all sides decide on one person, and one
person only, who was a full [Indian] member of the Center -- to serve as
election judge.

And all sides chose me.

Pluckily, I took it on. I asked our good maintenance man, Harry Culich, on
the South/Southwest Side where I directed large scale community
organization, to make us a ballot box. He lived in the Bridgeport [Daley]
ward and, of course, knew all about elections and voting. [He was, in fact,
a Walking Anthology of voting regularities -- and otherwise.] And he made
a great and wonderful box: three feet tall, clear plexiglass sides -- so
the ballot dropper could see his Wish actually make it to the bottom.
Voting Day was March 17 1973, cold and rainy. At the Center very early on,
I ordered all newspersons off and away and stationed polite guards at every
entrance. Voting began about 8 a.m. when I cast the first ballot, and
hundreds of Indian members -- some coming from adjoining states -- voted.
Each side had witnesses and its lawyer. Aside from a couple of very quick
restroom trips, I remained at the Box until 8 p.m. When the ballots were
finally counted, all sides agreed it was a completely honest election. In
fact, it was so damn straight that our side lost.

Martin and Donis remained married for some time. When they did divorce, it
was truly a no-hassle process from a procedural perspective, since Martin's
minister uncle had forgotten to file the papers.

And now, here's Martin in the immediate aftermath of Wounded Knee '73:


The history of Humanity -- and certainly the odyssey of Left Radicalism and
Rebel America -- abounds with the usage by dissidents [and all sorts of
others] of all sorts of names. In the dangerous world of the Deep South of
the '60s, I often used the name, "John Gray" -- that of my Family Culture
Hero [my ggg/grandfather], the extremely effective Akwesasne Mohawk activist
in the Far Western fur trade of the first several decades of the 19th
century. In those days, the White Knights of the Mississippi KKK and the
United Klans of America were widely distributing a Southwide death list in
which my photo and name [John R Salter, Jr] was one of a handful featured.
I also carried a .38 Special S &W revolver. And many years later, right
after I left University of North Dakota, I legally changed my name to John
Hunter Gray -- returning to the family name with which my Native father
[Frank Gray] had been born before it was changed [in a not very satisfactory
adoption] by the well-meaning William Mackintire Salter and Mary Gibbens
Salter [Ethical Culture Society, with primary homes at Cambridge, MA and
Silver Lake, NH.]

Although there are no formal legal requirements that a legal name change is
necessary in order to use a name, I always advise giving a friendly lawyer a
couple of hundred bucks or so for the whole High Church ritual. That takes
care of a variety of special records.

Native Americans frequently use several names -- concurrently. One might
well have his/her special Indian name, given at a very early age and known
in the specific aboriginal language to only family and clan members and
special friends. Its rough English [or French] translation might be
publicly known. And then one has his/her "European" name -- which could
have come through missionaries, government bureaucrats -- or intermarriage
somewhere in the family tree.

The late Martin Eder -- an Assiniboine/Sioux who, although from Montana,
also grew up on the Chicago streets -- was as good and loyal friend as I
have ever had. Martin always had an interesting retinue of names -- nicely
and appropriately chosen from his special moment of historical crisis.
Eldri and I and our older children recall vividly one midnight in the late
of '73 when there were three hard knocks on the back door of our second
floor Chicago Uptown apartment. It was raining hard outside. Cautiously,
with a Marlin lever action .444 rifle in one hand, I opened the door. Like
a Transylvanian Wraith, Martin stood there in a long black coat,
wide-brimmed hat dripping rain water. Even in the dim light, he looked like
hell. Immediately inside, he told us he'd been shot three times in South
Dakota by Federal-sympathizing tribal police at Pine Ridge and had been
patched up by a friendly Anglo veterinarian at Mankato, Minnesota. He also
indicated he was wanted on a Federal fugitive warrant.

We immediately put him to bed, made him comfortable, fed him well. The vet
had done a very good job medically. I wore several activist hats in Chicago
in those days: Chair of the developing Native American Community
Organizational Training Center, board member of the Great Lakes Resource
Development Project of Americans for Indian Opportunity, and also Southside
Director for the Chicago Commons Association [one of the city's oldest
private social service organizations.] In the latter context, our
agency-wide board membership included former Illinois Gov Otto Kerner
[author of the well known Kerner report on American racism] and a wide range
of other Prominents. We could mobilize Clout damn fast.

On the turbulent and sanguinary Southside, we often needed the legal
services of various specialists -- and one of our most dependable was Tom
Hanson, then of the Orlikoff firm, son of a very liberal Federal judge in
Iowa, Bill Hanson. I put Tom into Martin's situation immediately and very
productive negotiations followed. There was a Federal hearing, in which
then Prosecutor James Thompson [later an Illinois Gov himself] appeared. I
was present in my dark suit. The charges against Martin were quickly
reduced and there was a short probationary sentence. It was necessary to
put him under the supervision of a "reputable" person -- and all parties
[including me] agreed I was precisely that.

So it ended well. And Martin, for the longest time, understandably used the
name Martin Many Wounds.


At Tue Sep 26, 10:45:00 AM PDT, Blogger Brad Strouf said...

Happy Birthday, you birthday forgetting bastard!!

Have a great day.

At Tue Sep 26, 01:54:00 PM PDT, Blogger CindySue said...

Happy Birthday Burt...Hope you have a fun day!!!!

At Tue Sep 26, 11:13:00 PM PDT, Blogger Saint Nick said...

I remember when the candle shop burned down. Everyone stood around singing ' Happy Birthday .'
Steven Wright

At Wed Sep 27, 08:34:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Thanks mates!

For the record, I think I was an unaware bastard. Although I guess an unaware bastard is still a bastard.

At Fri Sep 29, 04:56:00 AM PDT, Blogger shoot_the_moon said...

Interesting - you share the same birthday as my dad. Well, Happy Birthday to you, Burt!!

At Fri Sep 29, 06:21:00 AM PDT, Blogger TWORIVERSWALRUS said...

Thanks folks!


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