Clan Dyken – News and Notes

Clan Dyken – News and Notes

In this issue:

–       Real Life Stuff

–       Leonard Benally

–       Upcoming Santa Cruz Show

–       KQBM Radio

–        Thanks Giving


Dear Friends,

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted or sent out anything on the web.  So much has changed in the past year and I’ve been truly at a loss to make enough sense of it all to even comment.

If you are on this email list or visit the Clan Dyken web site you have at some point expressed interest in the music and/or activism and activity of the band.  So you might be wondering about what’s happening with us or still have some interest.  So I’ll tell a little story here.  A lot of it is personal.

Last year during the final run of shows in the Beauty Way tour we received distressing news that Bear’s four year old granddaughter, Izabella had been placed in protective custody after an incident with her father at the local hospital.  Bella’s mom, Bear’s daughter Rose, was also struggling with health problems and other demons, so Bella was placed in foster care.

We were quite shaken, Bear of course feeling the most distress.  We felt a responsibility to complete the mission and deliver food and supplies to the resistors as promised during the tour, but how could we leave with such a pressing family matter at hand?

It was decided Bear would stay behind for court appearances and family support.  I would travel with the rest of the supporters to Arizona and make our deliveries.  As always it was an epic, beautiful journey.  It is truly a blessing to have a connection with the people of the Dineh Nation and all those who support their fight to remain on their ancestral homeland.  But this journey was different from the many I’ve made before to the land of the Dineh.  I’ve made the trip without my brother, but this time it was for such strange and unfamiliar reasons and something really big was hanging in the air for me.

By the time our crew returned from the journey Rose had been diagnosed with a tumor in her brain.  Surgery was quickly scheduled in Sacramento, the tumor was removed and discovered to be Astrocytomas- an aggressive form of brain cancer.  While family and friends were gathered at the hospital, a social worker brought Bella to see her mom before the surgery.  She also asked family members about a placement for Bella.  When we were asked my wife, Laura and I said we would be open to the background checks and home inspection required to be foster parents.

Things moved pretty quickly and we soon had Bella living with us.  Within a month our status changed from foster parents to guardians and she’s been with us ever since.It has changed everything in our lives at home and beyond.  Bella became priority one in our household and we had to rearrange life to make it work.



After the surgery Rose came back to her mom’s to live and be with family and those she loved.  Hannah and Bear worked together, keeping hope alive for a complete recovery. Rose seemed to understand her situation much better than those of us around her.  Astrocytomas is a formidable foe and people who have it don’t live very long after the diagnosis, no matter the treatment. The doctors wanted her to undergo chemo and radiation therapy, family and friends offered all kinds of advice and support on a wide variety of diet and other alternative therapies.  Rose just wanted to live what was left of her life on her terms- and she did.  She was brave and strong, loving and open through a scary, painful journey that ended in August, on her own bed, with her parents cradling her in their arms.

She became quite a teacher in the end.  She never complained about her fate, handled this so gracefully and had a way of comforting all who came to see her.  At the gathering to celebrate her life person after person in the circle expressed how Rose had impacted them and left her mark.

Thank you to all who sent financial support, visited, called, wrote or held Rose and the family in your thoughts and prayers.  It’s been a rough road, but the journey continues.  Rose will always be with us in our hearts, memories and the life of her daughter Bella.


Big Mountain – Leonard Benally


Through all this it’s been hard to do the work it takes to organize and promote the music.  Clan Dyken only played a handful of shows in the past year.  For the first time in over 20 years we aren’t doing the Beauty Way tour or the journey to the Dineh Nation.  This is the hardest part of it all for me to give up.  The connection to the families and the land of the Dineh pulls hard this time of year.

The passing of Leonard Benally last month also saddened us.  Leonard, his brother John and sister Louise are the first people I met and got to know when I originally traveled out to the Big Mountain region.  They have lived the life of resistors, defending the homeland against overwhelming odds for a long time.  It was their father Joe Benally who traveled to the Lakota Nation and brought the Sundance back to Big Mountain in the 70’s.  Their mother, Alice Benally was a long time resistor and outspoken activist.  The Benally family hosted Sundance, Survival Camp and other activist gatherings along with the food run base camp for many years.  Many of you met Leonard, John and Louise as they traveled and toured with us over the years.  Captivating speakers, passionately telling the story of life on the reservation and the struggle to stay on the land, they brought us into their lives.  Leonard will be greatly missed.

We are still taking contributions toward supplies for the families on the reservation.  There will be supporters making the journey and delivering food and wood to families.  We’ll use any funds we collect to buy firewood for delivery.  There is a Paypal link on the Beauty Way page of our website.

I also miss all of you.  I miss traveling to your communities, sharing the music, dance and high vibe of our gatherings.  I usually don’t like to speak for other people, but I’m pretty sure Bear feels the same way.  Probably even more than I do.  Change is one of the few certainties in this world and these changes have been hard.  It will change again and I look forward to getting back in the groove.


Upcoming Show

In the mean time I want to let you know about a show in Santa Cruz on Friday, November 22nd.  We’ll be part of a benefit show at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center for the California Coalition Against Fracking.  The Stop Fracking show will also feature Keith Grenninger, The Banana Slug String Band and John Leopold- outstanding music in a sweet venue, for an important cause, produced by The Wheel Company.  Click here for a poster with complete details.


KQBM – Community Radio in the Foothills

I also invite you to check out the community radio station I’ve been working on for the last seven years.  KQBM is now streaming on the web and will go on the air at 90.7 FM on January 1st.  It’s the first community radio station in the foothill region.  I do a show called Heart and Soul on Wednesday night from 6 to 9 pm.  You can also listen to archived shows anytime, they’re available at

I pick a theme and then play music, spoken word, poetry, film and video clips and other media related to the topic.  Recent episodes have been – Rich Man- Poor Man, Friends and Enemies, Secrets and Secrecy and a Lou Reed tribute.  Bruce Cockburn, Michael Franti, Leonard Cohen, The Clash, Clan Dyken, The Temptations, Alice DiMicele, Ben Harper, Joanne Rand, Bob Dylan, Dana Lyons, Fugazi, Darryl Cherney, Rage Against the Machine,  Marvin Gaye, Blackfire, Johnny Cash, Cornel West, Woody Guthrie, The Bastard Fairies, Miles Davis, Dyemusica, James Brown, Forest Gump and stuff you’ve never heard have all shown up on my play list.


Thanks Giving

When times are tough at home and around the world it can be easy to indulge the dark side, give in to despair or depression.  The long nights of late fall and winter are upon us and I feel the pull of darkness, asking for isolation.  The planet is getting hotter, the storms stronger and loved ones keep moving on.  Yet there is so much to be thankful for, not the least of which are the people I share my life with.  Just to be alive, present in the moment and open to possibility is plenty to be grateful for.  Thanks for being.