As a young man growing up in Southern Illinois he was awarded the rank of EAGLE SCOUT, and at that time he was the most highly decorated scout in the history of BOY SCOUTING. He worked his way through college and became a trained archeologist. During the early 1960's he was involved in sites slated for destruction by road crews in Southern Illinois and Missouri. These sites not only uncovered artifacts, but often, disturbed burial grounds.
Jim was of Irish and Cherokee heritage. His Great-Grandparents traveled the "Trail of Tears" and Jim's BIA card identified him as 5/8 Cherokee. He returned to the Cherokee people of Oklahoma for guidance. There he vowed never to disturb burial sites and dedicated his life to quietly returning and re-interning human remains across America.
In 1972, 2 years after he became the director of the Natural History Museum of the University of South Dakota, Jim was adopted by Yankton Elder, Joseph Rock Boy and given the name, Tatanka Ska, White Buffalo.
Recognized as a man with good intentions and a good heart, religous leaders such as, FOOLS CROW, LAME DEER, HENRY CROW DOG, MATTHEW KING, and JOE ROCK BOY, taught him their language, traditions, ceremonies and ways of the LAKOTA/DAKOTA people.
In 1977 Jim was diagnosed with cancer. A series of operations and chemotherapy followed. In January 1978, the doctors told him there was nothing more they could do for him. The LAKOTA/DAKOTA people remembered their friend and adopted brother with prayers and ceremonies. FRANK FOOLS CROW, the recognized medicine man sent CHARLES FAST HORSE and his brother Douglas to conduct a pipe ceremony at the hospital. The ceremony took four days and four days later the doctors could find no trace of cancer in Jim's body.
In 1978, this highly respected man of Cherokee heritage was made the fourth keeper of SITTING BULL'S pipe by, FRANK FOOLS CROW. He carried it with humble dignity in service for the people for 24 years. Even though he was a cancer survivor with only one kidney and one lung, Jim became a SUN DANCER in 1997. His commitment was to dance for a vision of the next keeper of SITTING BULL'S pipe. He danced for 2 years at the SALT CREEK SUN DANCE in Indiana. Jim announced in 1998 that his Son, Thomas would be the next keeper of the pipe. In ill health, shortly before his death and after discussion with the spiritual leaders, Jim passed the pipe to NATHAN CHASING HORSE, a young Lakota spiritual man. This was to happen at the Salt Creek Sun Dance in Indiana, July 12, 2002, but was not to be.
Jim lived his life with honor and dedication, integrity and a sense of purpose. He demonstrated the 4 qualities of a warrior, bravery, fortitude, generosity and wisdom. Jim was a living ripple effect in action who made peace an action verb.
"MITAKUYE OYASIN" ~ WE ARE ALL RELATED