Buck Ghosthorse: A Personal Story of Indigenous Kidnapping

Yesterday, in response to Pope Francis’s apology to Native Peoples for the abuses in church schools, we reflected on the “soul wound” named by Doctor Donna Schindler that has traumatized many generations of Native Peoples.

Portrait of Buck Ghosthorse hanging in the home of Matthew Fox.

Meister Eckhart and other wise people tell us that good can come out of evil.  One example of that was my friend Buck Ghosthorse.  As a child  around six years old, he was kidnapped by Mormons from his home on a reservation in South Dakota.  They took him away, cut his hair, forbade him to speak his Lakota language or practice native ceremonies. 

As a teenager, he ran away, joined the marines and was sent to Viet Nam where he saw warfare up close and personal.  After his time there, he returned to America and began to drink. 

Fortunately, he met Wallace Black Elk, a Lakota elder who taught him the ceremonies of his people.  Healing came with that and he quit drinking and eventually attended the University of Florida where he got a BA in history.  Then he settled in South Carolina and shared ceremonies with peoples. 

Short clip of Lakota Elder, Wallace Black Elk, speaking on the cycle of life. Originally posted to YouTube by WallaceBlackElk.

For many years he had dreams that he should work with white people because they were running things but weren’t very smart.  He resisted these dreams but after ten years they became so strong that he started researching and heard about our program in the Institute of Creation Spirituality at Holy Names College in Oakland, California.

He and his wife packed up their car with all their belongings and drove across country and appeared one day at my school completely unannounced.  We talked a bit, I hired him, and he taught courses with us for three years on Native Spirituality and also Native Ceremonies.  He constructed a sweat lodge on campus where our students, faculty and staff often prayed together.  After three years with us, he felt called to create his own community first in the foothills of the Seattle mountains and then in Goldendale, Washington where he had annual sundances and other ceremonies. 

“Singing Spiritual Warrior” Drawing gifted to Matthew Fox.

Buck was one of the most important spiritual teachers in my life not only from his sweats but his leading me in a vision quest and including me in sundances. 

When he died, over 500 people showed up for his funeral from all walks of life and religious traditions—people he had healed of alcoholism and more through his ceremonies.  It was the most powerful funeral I have ever attended.

This is just one example of how wounded healers are made and how good derives from evil. Buck was a wounded warrior who found his vocation through and not in spite of his wounds.


Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Postdenominational Priest, pp. 154, 156, 161, 331f., 374-376.

 And D. Schindler, MD, Flying Horse: Stories of Healing the Soul Wound (Santa Ynez, Ca: Tribal Eye 2020)

Special Discovery: Here is an interview of a very young, Buck Ghosthorse and Crazy Thunder on Spotify.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: “Sunset.” Photo by Adam Bautz on Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

Do you have stories to tell also of how good sometimes comes from Evil?

Recommended Reading

Flying Horse: Stories of Healing the Soul Wound
By Donna Schindler, MD; Foreword by Matthew Fox

A white psychiatrist shares the truths she has learned about historical trauma in this book which has been called ‘prophetic’ by Reverend Matthew Fox. Starting with her childhood in South Texas and Bermuda, she takes us on a journey during which she had to confront her own racial biases and denial of the truth in order to work as a cross-cultural psychiatrist with a Maori mental health team in New Zealand, the Navajo Nation and California Native Americans.
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7 thoughts on “Buck Ghosthorse: A Personal Story of Indigenous Kidnapping”

  1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
    Richard Reich-Kuykendall

    Matthew, Today you ask in your Queries for Contemplation: “Do you have stories to tell also of how good sometimes comes from Evil?” Here goes… My wife and I, after she received her R.N, degree and I received a B.A. degree in Religious Studies we went on to seminary in Michigan (we were from California) with our first born son who was only a couple of weeks old. By the time I graduated with my Master of Divinity degree I was ready to go to work, but I had a crisis of faith during seminary because my areas of concentration were theology, philosophy and world religions–which had raised many questions in my mind about the faith of my younger days. We had our second child just weeks before we left the seminary back to California to serve a church in the L.A. area. So I was serving a church as minister and she was working at a hospital as an R. N. And one day I was shocked when my wife told me that she no longer loved me, that she quit loving me during seminary (where I went to school full time and worked half time at night). I was devastated, I even wanted to die–and I even made an attempt. But Laura Nero sang, “Time heals all things” and as time went by I I came back to life, and met my present wife who I am even more in love with, and we’ve been together for over ten years now. And I’m retired and able to just enjoy doing this and being with my wife, kids and grandkids!

  2. Avatar
    Jeanette Metler

    Richard, Thank you for being so vulnerably honest, sharing some of your personal story of how sometimes good can and does come out of evil. I do believe that we are all wounded souls in need of healing. I say this with no intention of minimalizing the painful reality of this, within the various and diverse personal stories of all people.

    What I find common and also hopeful within these personal stories, is the way in which Spirit leads us to find the healing that we are in need of, that each one has been seeking and searching to find. When one responds to these subtle promptings, these leadings… one does indeed find comfort, consolation, wisdom counsel and healing. This is unique to each soul, and is quite often, at least in my own journey, as well as those of others… been offered, as a blessed gift of love, compassion and mercy… in a variety of ways through various spiritual pathways.

    When I reflect on my own journey I see how Spirit knows exactly what I need, when I need it… in order for me to participate in the further unfolding of my souls healing… and as I acknowledge and respond to this spiritual reality… this life-long relationship of companionship… I do indeed evolve, moving beyond the wounding of my soul… of being scarred, but no longer bleeding…of being broken, and yet broken open even further into giveness. Out of this the soul emerges… as the Wounded Healer… whom has experientially lived through the story of good overcoming evil.

  3. Avatar

    I sort of disagree that “good comes from evil”. It’s like saying sometimes the sun comes from clouds. It doesn’t. It’s always there. Similarly “good”, or your true nature is always there. It may get clouded by abuse, but given the right conditions, that true nature can resurface. Just my thoughts.

  4. Avatar

    What we have in common with our indigenous sisters and brothers is I feel that as human beings, we all have Soul Wounds and guilt from the suffering and sins of our inter-generational ancestors. As inter-dimensional beings we all need healing and forgiveness from our Divine Loving Mother~Father Creator on our evolving Eternal Soul Journeys as compassionate co-Creators with one another and All Creation during this earthly part of our spiritual journeys….
    ?❤️?

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