“Return to Dead Horse Canyon: Grandfather Spirits” Updates

I am pleased to report that “Return to Dead Horse Canyon: Grandfather Spirits” has been awarded a 5-star review by Readers’ Favorite. Recognition such as this is always highly appreciated by authors, especially from a professional reviewer when it contains such complimentary comments. Here is what reviewer, Asher Syed, had to say:

“Return to Dead Horse Canyon: Grandfather Spirits” by Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun is a conspiracy suspense novel and the second book in the Dead Horse Canyon Saga, preceded by the series’ critically acclaimed and award-winning first book, “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”

Two characters drive this saga, a widow named Sara Reynolds whose husband Bryan was murdered, and she very nearly along with him, after discovering corruption at a massive scale; and Charlie Littlewolf, Bryan’s dearest friend, whose connection to the history of the land, his Cheyenne roots and the spirits that reside in both is far deeper than believed.

The mission to avenge Bryan’s murder and get the truth about the government’s project out to the public is the driving force behind all of Sara’s actions, no matter how dangerous they are. Charlie shares in this but is also confronted with a battle of conscience, memories, physical and emotional trauma, and the wise words of family, both now and in the past, to reconcile who he has become and who he is meant to be. “Until you have seen death, you cannot comprehend life. Experience provides the path to understanding which leads to wisdom.”

I went into “Return to Dead Horse Canyon” not having read the first book and while it does read comfortably as a stand-alone, after just a couple of chapters I actually went back to read “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon” before restarting book two. It was an excellent decision. The building of the Cheyenne history is critical to the story and had I not understood Sara’s complete motivation and Charlie’s fully fleshed-out roots, I’d have missed out on so much more than just a good read.

Sara’s plight is noble and even as she is met with roadblocks at every turn, she is not dissuaded. The peril she faces is amplified and pushed to maximum pacing when she pulls a Snowden-esque rabbit from her hard drive. However, it’s Charlie that is most compelling to me.

My gosh, the depth of ethnology packed into both novels is meticulously researched and beautifully detailed. There are moments of lessons hard learned and realized, a standout being a conversation at his grandfather’s deathbed and another is when Charlie is finally able to harness a previously dormant and profoundly spiritual faculty. Co-authors Marcha Fox and Pete Risingsun are a dream team with this saga and I’m really looking forward to the third and final installment of their trilogy.


The fact that this reviewer was so dedicated that he took time to read “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” first went far beyond expectations in assessing a sequel. Needless to say, this is the kind of review author’s dream of. Many thanks to Mr. Syed for his thoughtful words.

Here’s some additional good news if your Texas library is a member of Biblioboard. If so, you can read this story for free here as part of the Indie Author Project. “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” is also available there.

If your library is not a member, you can request IAP to invite them to learn more by submitting their name here.

See the many titles available in the Indie Texas collection here.

If you’re an author or know one who might want to consider being included more information can be found here. Librarians seeking more information about the IAP program and how it at can help them reach their patrons is available at this link.

The Power of Words

The purpose of words is to convey meaning. How they’re spelled, how they sound differs tremendously. Sometimes they convey the same meaning, such as for a cat or dog. Others are unique and can’t be translated into another language, especially if they’re based on cultural context.

When immigrants come to a country, they assimilate better if they learn the host language. This is not simply a matter of getting along better in society. It integrates them into the culture. America became a “melting pot” as immigrants came from a multitude of foreign nations, then were united in a common language, i.e. English, even if they maintained their ethnic traditions.

When Europeans came to the American continent they encountered indigenous peoples whose languages were entirely foreign. While there’s a similarity in etymology and syntax among Latin-based languages (English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Italian, etc.), those spoken by Native Americans (which were several) had no similarities to European languages. Their culture and society were so different, many words common to Europeans didn’t even exist in theirs and vice versa.

Most of our thoughts comprise words. A person’s vocabulary determines their ability to think and comprehend the world around them. Without applicable words, unfamiliar concepts cannot exist. Emotions, however, exist beyond words. If you see someone laughing or crying, you know they’re feeling something.

Europeans took possession of this country in a less than friendly manner. Eventually, indigenous people became the “Indian Problem.” They refused to cooperate by giving up the land gifted to them by the Creator, a.k.a. Great Spirit. After numerous wars, massacres, and ugly confrontations, those that remained were herded off to reservations. As if that wasn’t bad enough, their children were taken and sent to government boarding schools where they were “reprogrammed.” This comprised cutting their hair, dressing them in “civilized” clothing, and forbidding them from speaking their native tongue. Being caught doing so resulted in their mouth being washing out with soap.

This was not a benevolent gesture to help Native Americans assimilate into European/American society. The intent was to annihilate their culture, identity, and beliefs, an insidious form of virtual genocide. A slight improvement, I suppose, over edicts from the Vatican that gave early explorers and colonists permission to kill them or make them their slaves.

Imagine forcing new immigrants to give up their language and customs. As “guests” in this country, it could almost be justified, a condition of habitation that promotes unity. Instead, just about any document they may need to read is available in their own language at taxpayer expense. Yet, quite the opposite was done to indigenous peoples who were here first.

If you have a difficult time relating to this, consider hoards of Chinese soldiers swarming our borders and forcing us to abandon our way of life, including our language, and adapt to theirs or die.

As intended, indigenous languages began to disappear. Fortunately, some survived. Ironically, helping the current younger generations to learn their native tongue is now a function of the very schools who originally forbade them from speaking it.

Why should they care? Because that is who they are. Culture, ceremonies, and their collective philosophy of life is embedded in their language. They have words with no English analog. Even in English, certain things have different meaning. For example, “All my relations” to a Native American includes all living things as well as the Earth herself. “Turtle Island” is not only this continent, but embodies their creation story.

Why should we care if their culture is lost? Because it’s in the world’s best interest for it to be revitalized. Assimilating it may be the only thing that can save us from ourselves in this war-torn, polluted, technology-dependent world.

This short video (less that 3 minutes) contains the 10 Commandments of Native Americans. As you listen, consider they initially welcomed Europeans to their land. They only became aggressive when the Founding Fathers and those who followed didn’t want to share this country with its original inhabitants.

They wanted them out of their way.

The Little-known Origin of the US Constitution

The Founding Fathers believed they created the perfect structure for government when they wrote the Constitution. But did you know that it was inspired by the Iroquois Federation, an agreement between indigenous nations hundreds of years before the white man arrived?

As the USA approaches its 246th birthday, things are not looking very good. Where have we gone wrong?

What better source of answers than a Native American? The video below narrated by Lakota, Russel Means, explains it perfectly.

“They took away EVERYONE’S rights–Time to Wake up”
Image by M C from Pixabay

World Indigenous Peoples Day

The wisdom of indigenous people is something the world is in sorry need of today. There is nothing I can say that would have greater meaning on this day set aside to honor indigenous peoples throughout the world than what is said in the following video. Note that the speaker, Floyd “Red Crow” Westerman (Kangi Duta) crossed over to the next life in 2007. His words are truer now than ever before.

What we have done to our planet is shameful. The consequences will not be pretty.

Spirit Animals: Key to Life’s Answers

Excerpt from “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”

“The Enlightenment” era did more to stop people from being enlightened than achieve it. True, when Galileo et al succeeded in disproving the solar system is geocentric, that was a good thing. Some things deserve scientific scrutiny. However, even to this day, hundreds of years later, there are phenomena many have experienced to be true while those blinded by science debunk them.

That attitude has done more to destroy faith and spirituality than Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. It took decades before technology advanced enough to prove Einstein’s Theory of Relativity. Just because it can’t be proven in a lab doesn’t mean it’s not true. Having an open mind is the most scientific thing you can do. My ongoing criticism of skeptics is that they don’t have to prove anything. I think they should have the same standards imposed on them as they expect of others.

Don’t believe astrology works? Prove it.

Don’t believe in telepathy? Prove it.

Don’t believe in past lives? Prove it.

Space Shuttle Columbia Recovery Team, Hemphill, Texas, Spring 2003

Indigenous people as a rule believe in animism, i.e. that everything has an innate soul. We are all  brothers and sisters. Everything and everyone is connected. We all came from the Earth, are part of her, and will return there. Having such beliefs, they’re in tune with their surroundings. Situational awareness at its best. Like the Navajo shown in the picture on the left. We grid-searched the fields outside of Hemphill, Texas together, picking up debris from the space shuttle, Columbia. Men and women who could spot a copperhead sunning on a rock from fifty yards.

Do you have a question? Pay attention. “Ask and ye shall receive” or perhaps, “The truth is out there” are valid principles.

One way Indigenous people find answers is through Spirit Animals. This goes beyond identifying with one particular animal, such as a wolf, lion, bear, mountain lion, etc. Admiring and assimilating the qualities of any animal you encounter can teach you something about

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yourself or your situation.

How do you know what they are teaching you? Often it’s intuitive, because you’re already looking for an answer. Charlie Littlewolf, the main character in “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits” knows this. Coupled with prayer, fasting, and traditional rituals his grandfather taught him, he’ll find answers.

If you prefer more specific help, an excellent book on the subject is “Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies.”

The stories in particular are delightfully reminiscent of Aesop’s Fables and most are suitable to read to young children. They explain the traditional meaning of various animals, indigenous archetypes, if you will.

But first you have to pay attention.

Excerpt from “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”

Since expanding my awareness to this hidden realm I have encountered numerous valuable insights, from birds in particular. A small flock of sparrows and a single male cardinal at my feeder. Two bald eagles soaring directly above my house. A raven squawking from the top of a phone pole. Hundreds of white pelicans circling above my house as they arrive at their winter home.

What are the odds? Those birds are not out there whenever I happen to look up. We have buzzards galore, but that is not what I have seen when I was pondering an issue. Buzzards, too, have a message, but when they’re out there most the time, there’s far less meaning unless they do something unusual that catches your attention.

How do these animals know when to appear? Pure coincidence? Or, as part of this web of life, are they drawn to us by our asking to provide an answer only they can deliver?

Many would declare such beliefs in the realm of superstition. Have you ever noticed that superstition has the same root as supernatural? The world of the unseen?

There is so much that fails to meet the untrained eye.

Excerpt from “The Curse of Dead Horse Canyon: Cheyenne Spirits.”