We considered in yesterday’s DM the great price that Native peoples have paid for their colonization.  They call it a soul wound. The healing begins with the telling of true stories.  That is why Donna Schindler subtitles her book “Stories of Healing the Soul Wound” and also why she chose the title for the book that she did, “Flying Horse.”

Who is, what is, “Flying Horse”?  Donna learned about Flying Horse when she visited the oldest boarding school in the nation, located in Pennsylvania.  Walking through the cemetery that held 283 graves of Indian children, she was drawn to a grave marked “Samuel Flying Horse, 1883.” She says:

His story has been lost, and I sometimes wonder if he spent time in the dark, cold cell reserved for students who misbehaved.  I think of how it might have been for him to die far from his parents. I think about his parents and how they felt when their son was taken to boarding schools.  Were they notified of his death? If so, how must they have dealt with it, not having been there to comfort him?

She dedicated the book to him “because he deserved freedom and his short life and suffering should be remembered.” 

I harbor my own questions: How far away did his family and community live from him when he was taken from them, the tribe, their ceremonies, their language and forced to go to a boarding school?  How did he die?  Why did he die?  Was it of a broken heart?  Was he beaten?  Was he ignored and left alone when sick?  Did he try to escape?  Did he commit suicide?

Officials and schoolchildren outside Providence Mission Indian Residential School, Fort Providence, Northwest Territories, Canada. Photo from BiblioArchives / LibraryArchives on Flickr.

Such questions are left unanswered of course.  So much is lost when genocide occurs.

My friend Buck Ghosthorse, a Lakota man, was kidnapped from his home on the rez in South Dakota when he was six years old by Mormon missionaries who forced him to cut his hair, never speak his language again, never experience his ceremonies again.  He ran away and joined the marines as a teenager and was sent to Viet Nam.  On returning, he started to drink.  Fortunately, he met a mentor, Wallace Black Elk, who brought him back to Lakota ceremony and the healing began.  He went to university in Florida and on graduating moved to South Carolina to practice ceremonies. 

“Singing Spiritual Warrior” Drawing gifted to Matthew Fox.

He joined my faculty at ICCS in Oakland, and after three years started his own community in the state of Washington.  His ceremonies, including vision quests and Sun Dances, were lifesavers for many people of all races and religions, 500 of whom showed up for his funeral. 

Buck was a spiritual warrior and a wounded healer. 

He did his inner work as every warrior must; and he brought it to deep service of others, strength and humor in tact. I did not learn his full story, including the Mormon episode, until his funeral.  He did not dwell on the past, but worked to heal in the present.

See D. Schindler, MD, Flying Horse: Stories of Healing the Soul Wound (Santa Ynez, CA: Tribal Eye, 2020), 147f.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine, pp. 84-89.

Banner Image: Image of genocide: “Wounded Knee Aftermath.” Big Foot’s camp three weeks after the Wounded Knee Massacre (Dec. 29, 1890), with bodies of several Lakota Sioŭ people wrapped in blankets in the foreground and U.S. soldiers in the background. Photo by Trager & Kuhn, Chadron, Nebr., from the Library of Congress. On Wikimedia Commons.

What stories of soul wounds do you carry?  Your ancestors?  What do the stories of Samuel Flying Horse and Buck Ghosthorse teach you?

The Hidden Spirituality of Men: Ten Metaphors to Awaken the Sacred Masculine

To awaken what Fox calls “the sacred masculine,” he unearths ten metaphors, or archetypes, ranging from the Green Man, an ancient pagan symbol of our fundamental relationship with nature,  to the Spiritual Warrior….These timeless archetypes can inspire men to pursue their higher calling to connect to their deepest selves and to reinvent the world.
“Every man on this planet should read this book — not to mention every woman who wants to understand the struggles, often unconscious, that shape the men they know.” — Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of The Left Hand of God

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2 thoughts on “Soul Wounds, continued”

  1. Avatar

    When doing research in the 1980’s in the far North of Ontario I had occasion to visit a defunct residential school. In some of its empty rooms the presence of evil was stronger than that which I later experienced in Buchenwald concentration camp. Writing about it, decades later, I still feel nauseous at the memory.
    The evil lingers:
    While in that community I stayed for several days with the White Fathers. One of them could be heard flagellating himself in his room every day after lunch.
    The head of the band council told us well over fifty per cent of the children in his community were suffering from some kind of abuse – abuse their parents had learned in the school.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jo Anne, Some call places where one can feel the evil as haunted. Whether there is anything to the idea of a haunted house or place, it does seem that some places where great evil has been done seems to retain a spirit of evil which can be felt at some level.

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