Richard White’s last night at his family’s home was late December 1934. He was seventeen and alone. His parents looked straight at him from their framed station on the wall. They were placed in a gray stone winter morgue waiting spring when the ground would be soft enough to bury them.
He moved in with his Great Uncle John Bird the following morning.
The Bird farm forms the core base for Richard’s dreaming, his quest or calling in life. Others will become involved with the farm, turning it into a place of vision and hope. It became a sanctuary for many over the next eighty-some years. Yet, the peace did not come without challenges.
American Nazi sympathizers of pre-World War II burned a cross there. The FBI questioned not a few of their friends during the McCarthy Red Scare Era. Indigenous American families moved in temporarily as refugees in their own land at the outset of the American Indian Termination and Relocation Acts of Congress that began in 1948.
A number of biases and injustices surface among the Native American, Euro-American and Metis communities in the region over an orphaned one-year-old Native boy in 1952. White and Indian couples endure a lengthy court battle over custody of the child. The court ruled against placing the child back into his Tribal Nation and relatives in favor of the White family who would “raise the child up civilized and in a good Christian home.”
The child later proves to be terminally ill. Prejudices mount again when a Pottawatomie healed the child through Indigenous medicine ways. Richard White, by then a Catholic Priest find himself and the friary built on his Uncle’s farm in the center of a religious strife.
Richard is the Hawk Dancer. He is Metis and embraces all there is of his mixed culture. He does not see this as two ways or two religions. He is much like the healer who never abandoned his traditions in embracing the Catholic Church.
These two companion novels dramatize the gradual process towards cultural diversity, civil rights of the 1960’s and into the 1980's. It was an era of great change for America and the World, the mainline Churches and society. Great changes were made, more or less, for the better, this author believes.
Even in his advanced years. Friar Jacob Hawk Dancer (aka Richard White), is looked to for his wisdom on issues of peace and justice as the book carries the stories into the 21st century. We see how he groomed the Baby Boomer youths to become today’s Elders.