The new Clan Dyken album is a few weeks away from official release. Water, Fire and Other Relatives features songs of family, heart break, transformation and perseverance. An amazing cast of musicians and other creative talents came together to give life to the latest collection of Bear’s writing. We’ll drop the details on you soon. In the meantime here’s a track that features just Bear on the acoustic guitar and vocals with a little percussion help from Mark. It’s free to stream or download, just follow the link.
It’s been a little harder than usual to be hopeful for me this year. The ugly presidential campaign, between two of the most unpopular candidates in history has cast a pall across our nation. It has set a tone and seems to align with news about things I care for being in rough shape. The stand-off at Standing Rock, the racial divide and police killings, run away climate change, the ever growing surveillance state, never ending war, income inequality, access to health care, the unchecked power and influence of banks, multi-national corporations and the global oligarchy, disappearing habitat and loss of biodiversity, friends and family are struggling in many ways, geez the list goes on and on.
Perhaps it’s the non-stop news cycle, focused almost exclusively on negative stories. Maybe it’s related to being older, being a grandparent and wondering what kind of planet will be left for future generations and why I didn’t do all I thought I could when I was young and more of life was ahead of me instead of behind me. Elders I looked to for wisdom and perspective are gone. I’m having to squint a little harder to find the light.
Then it hits me – it’s up to me to change the way I’m looking at things. To find hope I have to be hopeful, to see the light I have to turn my own up. When a child smiles, when a song rocks, when the next generation of activists make their voice heard, when the brilliance of what humans are capable of reveals itself in art, dance, scientific innovation or inspired revolution hope grows. When loving displays of compassion are revealed in the middle of disaster my own resolve is renewed. I simply have no choice, I have to believe we can make it better.
Now more than ever, it’s time to be in touch with the creative mind, the moral imagination, the source of the light. Time to come together and feel our power. That’s what the Clan Dyken Revive the Beauty Way Tour has been all about for 25 years. In our small way we connect in community and bring that collective good will in the form of food, supplies, firewood, labor and witness in a spirit of solidarity to true Earth Protectors and Wisdom Keepers of the Dineh Nation in the Black Mesa region of the Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Remembering how we act every day, how we treat each other, how we use our energy and where we direct it is far more important than who we vote for in Washington.
Like the Land and Water Protectors at Standing Rock, the people who live between the Four Sacred Mountains stand up to and resist fossil fuel extraction by a government backed multi-national corporation. Peabody Coal has been mining here since the 1960’s and sending tons of coal to generating stations to produce dirty energy for the southwest at the expense of the original people for decades. Since 1974 the people have been resisting forced relocation and dealing with the health effects of living next to one of the world’s largest strip mines. Sacred sites, including the Sundance grounds have been bull dozed and desecrated. They have been torn from their homes, seen the earth ripped open and plundered, had the water, land and air fouled by greed and a lust for dirty energy. I’ve seen them confronted by militarized police, spied on, lied to and disregarded as human beings. The fight is the same as the one in Standing Rock, but it’s been going on for over 40 years in this part of the country.
We started this years’ Beauty Way Tour in Jamestown at the Refuge. It was a wonderful kick off to the journey and we were happy to send half the proceeds to Standing Rock. We sent it to Curly and Donna Eagle Hawk, who have set a prayer camp between the Red Warrior and Sacred Stone camps, on tribal land. It’s a place for rest and respite, free from arrest or violence. Our contribution, funneled through local activist Jenny Fuqua bought a generator, lumber and propane.
We’ve decided to stand with Standing Rock for the rest of the tour, spreading the concept of Thanks Giving a little farther. Our goal is to send at least $1000 per show to Standing Rock. Be a part of the celebration in solidarity with Earth Defenders around the world.
There are opportunities for you to join us in kindling hope or even to make the journey to the reservation. We will be joined by light bearers, amazing artists and other members of the tribe at the following shows. I can’t wait to see you and make magic!
4 – Oakland – The Place For Sustainable Living 7 PM with Heather Normandale and Desirae Harp
5 – Grass Valley – The Banner Grange 4 PM- with Boca Do Rio, Fast Rattler and Kimberly Bass. There will be a screening of Broken Rainbow, the award winning film about the struggle in Black Mesa
11- Sebastopol (tentative) – A house party, we’ll update you when it’s all set.
12 – Arcata- Bayside Grange 7 PM
17 – Mount Shasta City – The Temple of Intention 7 PM with Djin Aquarian
18 – Williams, OR – Williams Grange 5:30 PM With the Community Corn Dance
19 – Junction City – The North Fork Grange 7 PM with RXR, Stealhead and the Trinity Tribal Drum
20 – 27 – Out to the reservation and back.
2016 Beauty Way Tour and Supply Run
This is my dear friend, Louise Benally of the Dine’ (Navajo) Nation. I met her 25 years ago on my first trip to the Big Mountain region of the Navajo Reservation in Northern Arizona. She was born into a life of resistance and activism, fighting against great odds to remain on the land creator gave her people. She appeared in the 1985 Academy Award Winning Documentary, Broken Rainbow as a teenage activist, explaining the struggle against forced relocation and has been on the front lines ever since.
Her people live on land that holds coal, uranium and other resources the outside world uses to fuel a lifestyle that is poisoning our mother earth. Like the protectors in North Dakota, the Dine’ have long stood against these practices and warned of the consequences we face if we continue. In the time I’ve known her I’ve seen intimidation, violence, sanctions, live-stock confiscations, sacred sites bulldozed, drinking water wells capped, elders dragged from their homes, lies, broken promises and much more used against the people as tactics in continuing the pressure to force them from the land. They live in what some people call a “National Sacrifice Area”, adjacent to the world’s largest coal strip mine. Louise is one of only a few hold outs who have not signed the Accommodation Agreement, a 99-year lease that allows people to stay, but under restrictions and with an end date.
It’s the same all over this country. Indigenous nations suffer through the extraction, toxic processing and disposal of our energy and resource systems. People like Louise live with the collective memory of genocide – loss of land, people, language, song, ceremony, healing ways, plants, water and more than we can know. This is not just history, it continues today. But they are still there.
That’s why members of Clan Dyken and our extended family have been going back to Big Mountain every Thanksgiving since that first trip. It will be our 25th year in support of the resistors.
This year, in addition to our distribution of food and fire wood to families around the area we are organizing to bring building and repair supplies to Louise’s home site. We’ll play a concert there and have a few work days so she can keep a place on the land.
We are working on filling in the final dates for the 2016 Annual Beauty Way Tour. The concerts support the food and supply run. We start October 15th at the Refuge in Jamestown, CA and tour around California and Oregon before heading deep into the reservation for Thanksgiving. If you are interested in bringing the show to your town please get in touch. Clubs, small theaters, community centers, house parties, barn dances – we’ll do it anywhere it works.
To make this happen we’ll need your support and there are many ways you can help – sponsor or produce a show, come to a show, organize your own fund raiser, commit to coming on the journey (be careful it could change your life) or be creative and come up with a new way to produce resources.
You can also visit the Beauty Way page of the Clan Dyken web site to make a contribution.
Wildest ride ever. From the center of the Butte Fire, Clan Dyken will ride out on the 23rd annual Revive the Beauty Way Tour in support of the Thanks Giving Food and Supply Run to the Dineh Nation. Bear and Somer lost their home, like many others in the neighborhood and Calaveras County, but they are still committed to support the people on the land who’ve been loosing houses and land for over 40 years to forced relocation for coal mining. Join the effort, come to the shows or go all out and join the caravan for the sojourn deep into the Dineh Nation. Grandmother is waiting for you.
It’s been awhile since we’ve updated you. We are busy in some different ways right now, but looking to get musically active again this spring and summer.
We are looking forward to traveling to Sebastopol and playing a benefit on March 20th for Music & Memory. They do amazing work – bringing music to elders suffering from Alzhiemers and other forms of dementia to stimulate their memory. Check out their web page www.musicandmemory.org
The show will be at the Sebastopol Community Cultural Center. It starts at 7:30. For details check this Facebook page or Reverbnation.com
We will also be part of the annual Calaveras Earth Day Celebration on April 26 in Utica Park, downtown Angels Camp.
Hope to see you there.
2014 Beauty Way
After a one-year hiatus we traveled the Beauty Way again. It was a great feeling to be back on the road, sharing music and working together to bring the love to the people on the land. Your kindness and generosity raised $18,000 to bring food, supplies and firewood to the families on the land.
The grass roots, people-to-people effort is always an epic journey from the early planning to the road between the communities of support and the final trip deep into the land of the Dineh. It also means we work on a small budget, run on faith and have to be open to the twists and turns of the road. Flexibility is key and this year we had some special challenges.
The tour kicked off in Sonora, at the renovated Sonora Opera Hall. The drum circle, a new local band – Goldy Different- and a powerful round dance set the right tone for the start of the voyage. It really felt good to get the groove going again.
Murphys was a lot of fun, in a new venue, Outer Aisle. The outstanding food and drinks inside an organic, farm to table store and restaurant, along with a Somer Moon set made for a sweet party. Momentum was building as we headed to another new venue in Grass Valley.
A fall chill was in the air, but inside the Banner Grange it was hot. A large family style soup and salad dinner, a showing of the movie Broken Rainbow and a music line up that included Kimberly Bass, Goodshield and Mignon, and Wonderfunk heated the place up right. It was a very sweaty round dance. The energy continued to build as we set our wheels in motion to Oregon for a show at the Williams Grange.
As we were leaving the small town of Jacksonville on the way to the show in Williams Buster Gillig, aka Busta Move, the faithful band bus and supply hauler suffered major engine failure. We barely got off the road as Buster died. We were stranded 30 miles from the gig with tons of gear, food, supplies and people, a few hours before show time.
A small cavalry lead by Ryan was dispatched from Williams and we were able to get most of the people and gear to Williams in time for a great show. I know I was a bit dazed, perhaps traumatized by the loss of Buster, but the energy of the Williams crowd, the corn dance and all the love carried the evening. Those kind folks poured out extra cash, knowing we were going to incur some big time expense loosing the bus. Meanwhile super trooper Daniel stayed with Buster and facilitated a major tow job, involving two giant wreckers and traffic control.
Now we were gypsies without a wagon and even more to haul, including 3000 pounds of squash. It’s about 200 miles from Williams to the Bayside Grange and the show was the very next night. Buster was back in Ashland at a diesel repair shop with Daniel and a lot of gear and we still had to get it all to Arizona in two days.
The short version of the story is allies and U-Hauls. Volunteer drivers, donated vehicles, a big U-Haul and a lot of hustle got everything out of the bus, plus what we picked up in Williams, loaded and down the road to Arcata, just in time to see Joanne Rand finish her set. We rode the wave of a high vibe in the Bayside Grange, played the show and loaded even more supplies into our ever-changing caravan and zoomed back to Calaveras County.
Here we dropped off what we didn’t need or couldn’t carry, returned the U-Haul, loaded into a new set of vehicles and hit the road. It was late night when we stopped at the Travertine Hot Springs for a break. It was a sweet moment of respite from the manic pace of the past few days.
The next morning Daniel had some red swelling on his arm and a low-grade fever. We also found out one of the volunteer vehicles had broken down on 395 heading south. We pushed on to Flagstaff to regroup. By the time we made Flag, Daniels arm was really swelling-he wound up in the Flagstaff hospital for two nights with a bad infection. The broken truck was left behind, another U-Haul added and somehow we all (except Daniel) met at the homestead of Leta O’Daniel, deep in the Big Mountain region of the Dineh Nation.
By the time we got there camp was in full swing, much of the food already divided, wood was being cut, split and delivered and the place was humming at a high level. Activists from BMIS, the Colorado crew and our network of supporters joined forces to serve the people and get the goods out.
Darlene, Michelle, Brian, Mike and a hard working crew had things mapped out so the deliveries went well. Tzaddi, Taj, Karen and Malachai made sure we got to the most remote homesteads.
In all 90 families received 15 tons of food and supplies. More than 20 cords of wood were delivered to keep the home fires burning. Yes, the numbers are dwindling and some may ask if such an effort is worth it to reach less than 200 people. That’s why we encourage you to join the caravan and make the journey. Once you see the people and what they are going through to hold onto the land and how it ties into the bigger picture I think you will understand why it is so important to keep this connection strong and let them know we stand in solidarity. It’s all there – the first nation people and their land rights, the greed of major energy corporations, the ugly politics and corruption, the environmental racism and destruction of mother earth, climate change, ground water issues and above all the lack of true justice play out in what’s happening to the Dineh Nation. Through it all the people remain and pay the price. So we will keep going to offer what support we can.
There is always reason for hope. One of the places I love to visit the most is the homestead of the Yazzie family in Sand Springs. The family has been farming for three generations in the same spot. They have seen times of plenty when the water was flowing and the fields were full, and lean times of drought and extreme hardship. Like much of the west the drought has been going here for several years. It makes this struggle even harder. For the last few years very little has been grown on the farm that once produced enough to feed the family and sell to a local store.
We pulled into the homestead on Thanksgiving eve. Kids and the young men were playing basketball, the elders were laughing and in good spirits. This year the gardens were tended again. Squash, melons, peppers and corn did real well. Woody and Jonathan proudly showed us some squash and melons stored in one of the hogans for later in the year. They feel good about the coming year and the possibility of growing even more.
One thing I notice about life out there. It is steady. It doesn’t matter what the Dow Jones Industrial Index is today, no one knows what the rate of inflation is or the current interest on a new car loan. The latest international crisis or rumor about Miley Cyrus won’t change what they do or think about today.
So in Sand Springs they plan for the next planting, they get the kids to school in the morning and watch the basketball games at night, they give thanks for what creator has given and work with what they have. Somehow in Sand Springs there is always hope.
Once again the days flew by and it was time to head home in what seemed like an eye blink. Daniel was scooped up from the hospital, healthy and whole. Bear and Somer made it back in his truck, but the pick-up bed trailer that has made so many journeys to the land and homesteads behind the Blue Pearl literally vibrated apart on the rough reservation roads.
Buster has been donated to Ryan and Liz to use as housing for interns on their organic farm in Williams. I’m looking for a new bus – would it be too tacky to crowd source funding for a band bus? One way or another we’ll see you on the road in 2015.
Thanks again for all your support.
Beauty Way 2014
After a one year hiatus we are going back to the land of the Dineh. Elders have passed on and those that remain are facing some very troubled times including live stock impoundment, arrests and large fines. Black Mesa Indigenous Support has updates on the current situation, including photos and first hand accounts of the suffering elders are facing.
With your help we’ve been able to connect for a long time to the people still holding sacred space with language, song, ceremony and a connection to the land. We are once again calling for your support in the form of your dance at the shows before we head to the high desert to deliver food, firewood and other supplies to this special group of people. Of course you are welcome to join the caravan for the journey of a lifetime, into a land and way of life that remain hidden in plain view from most.
It’s a small tour to long time supportive communities and then on to the land to bring your gifts and good will to the people. We’re excited to get out and bring some new and old songs to life with you.
Check out the links for details on special guests, food and all the other elements that make these events such great parties with a purpose. It’s all about the heart.
Clan Dyken – News and Notes
In this issue:
– Real Life Stuff
– Leonard Benally
– Upcoming Santa Cruz Show
– KQBM Radio
– Thanks Giving
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.
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 KQBM.org.
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.
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.
I haven’t put out an update in quite some time. There have been some big changes in the world of Clan Dyken that have rearranged priorities. We haven’t done many shows this year, but we have a few coming up that we would really like to see you at.
Somer Moon will host an album release party on June 2 at Alchemy in Murphys to celebrate the release of her new album. It’s available now at www.clandyken.com.
The big change is Bear’s daughter Rose was diagnosed in December with astrocytomas, an aggressive form of brain cancer. She underwent surgery to have the cancerous tumor removed. The surgery was successful and the doctors recommended radiation and chemotherapy. Rose has opted for natural remedies. Six months on she is doing well, but has a long way to go. She has no insurance and no way to earn income , so much support is needed.
During this time Laura and I have been guardians of Rose’s daughter, Bella. She also needs a great deal of support. It’s been a life changing set of experiences, leaving a lot less time for music.
So after years of doing benefits for many causes near and far, Clan Dyken is throwing one for the family.
On June 8 a one day music festival and camp out will be held at the Horse and Barrel Ranch in Murphys to aid in the battle against brain cancer being waged by Rose.
The lineup will feature Casey Chisolm, The Hot Dark, Dyemusica, Somer Moon, Clan Dyken and Alice DiMecele. There will be a silent auction with services and items donated by supporters. Food and drink will also be available.
The family friendly event will also feature a bounce house for kids. The Horse and Barrel is on Nickerson Lane off French Gulch Road in Murphys.
This will be a great show and for those of you from out of the area a chance to see some of the hot talent from our area and our good friend Alice DiMicele will travel down from Oregon to complete the line up. It’s a great place to camp out and visit the foothill town of Murphys-home of 18 wineries, great dining, biking, sights to see and experience the mellow foothill lifestyle. Maybe you’d rather stay in the Murphys Hotel an historic building with stories in every room. There are many reasons to visit and I hope one of them motivates you to turn out for our first show of the summer.
A couple weeks later, on June 22nd we’ll be part of a show to benefit the community radio station I’ve been working on building for the last six years. Blue Mountain Radio, KQBM is now streaming on the internet, check it out at www.kqbm.org and listen in. I do a show on Wednesday nights called Heart and Soul from 6-9 pm pacific time. Every week I pick a theme and play music, spoken word and stories around the theme.
We are a few thousand dollars from being able to put the signal on the airwaves at 90.7 FM. This show is a free concert on the grounds of the Blue Mountain Coalition for Youth and Families in downtown West Point, which also houses KQBM. We’ll be part of a line up that will feature Megan O’Keefe, Dyemusica, The Broken Jug Band, Swing Gitane, The Tahoe Fire Dancers and Wiggle Woggle Circus and some street theater by Sony Castoe. There will be buffalo burgers, veggie burgers, beer from Lauginitas and local wines. You can check out the studio and record a top of the hour call. The energy and funds raised will go to putting another community radio station on the air. It all starts at 2:00 PM and promises to be a fine time.
Thanks for being part of our extended family, we hope to see you soon.