FROM the EAST??? (TRUE STORY from STANDING ROCK) – by Dale Ramsdall

This took place in December of 1981, in McLaughlin, South Dakota during a teaching gathering on the Standing Rock with Bahá’is coming from several states at the home of Dr. Bob Morrow and his wife Ardyth.


After saying 500 Remover of Difficulties prayers, we went to the home of Albert Dog, a Lakota elder whose foot was broken. His house was filled with visitors and we shared the news about the Baha’i Faith with Dallas Spotted Horse, who immediately caught the vibe of the Faith, and kept saying:


        “We gotta tell Uncle Woody about this. We gotta tell Uncle Woody about this.”  


So a couple of us went to the home of Woody and Vivian Black Cloud, but they weren’t home, and we went back the next day, but they weren’t home. Then one evening we returned to find them home, introduced ourselves, and the spirit was so high that we ended up talking until 3 in the morning listening to their stories of Lakota beliefs and sharing the teachings of the Baha’i Faith.


At one point, Woody exclaimed:


         “This IS the Lakota religion. We’ve always been Baha’i. We just never called it that!!”


As hard as it was to find them initially, now it seemed that whatever town we went to, Little Eagle, Wakpala, McLaughlin, we’d bump into Woody and Vivian. Seeing me, Woody pointed and said to his friends:


         “There’s that Wasicu, telling me ‘bout my own religion!”


Dr Bob and Ardyth prepared the Feast of Sharaf on December 30, 1981, inviting a house full of guests, and after everyone had eaten and most had moved into the living room, Woody and Vivian remained seated at the table when I came out of the kitchen and stopped, not knowing why, but turned to them and said:


         “The Báb and Bahá’u’lláh, the Founders of our Faith, are from the east.”


Suddenly their eyes got big as saucers, and Woody says:


         “From the East!?”


And I said:


         “Yeah. From Iran, where they’re having all this trouble today.”


Again Woody says:


         “FROM the EAST?!?”


So I thought maybe they didn’t know where Iran was, and said:


         “Do you want me to get you a map?”


Once more, their eyes even bigger, Woody repeats:


         “FROM THE EAST??!!??”


By now, everyone in the living room had turned their attention to the conversation, sensing something was up.


Still in this state of amazement, Woody began explaining:


         “Two years… We’ve been waiting for this!!”


and proceeded to explain that they were in the Southwestern US, when a Medicine Man told them:


         “A Black Cloud will go from the West to the East. You will go with the Black Cloud, and will hear of Two Spirit Messengers From the East, Who fulfill the prophecies of our people and unite the tribes.”


They left and drove north to be with the Native Americans in the state of Washington and were camping in the vicinity of Mount St. Helens in May 1980. The ground was shaking periodically, and the geologists and the authorities were anxiously trying to get people out of there. One night a young man sitting beside Woody was obviously very nervous as the ground shook, and Woody turns to him and says:


         “Don’t worry. It won’t blow up until we leave…”


He said to me:


         “I don’t know why. The words just popped out my mouth.”


So one night one of the tribal elders brought them some travel money to continue their journey back to the Standing Rock. They gassed up their truck and left, driving awhile before camping for the night.


In the morning, the sky behind them was black. Mount St. Helens had erupted that morning, on May 18, 1980, at 8:30 am. Soon, the Black Cloud caught up with them, and they traveled “From the West to the East” with the Black Cloud, just as the Medicine Man had told them, and for nearly two years had been waiting to hear the news of the Two Spirit Messengers “From the East” Who had come to unite the tribe.


Although they accepted the Faith immediately, they would not sign enrollment cards, because Looking Horse, his spiritual father, had told them:


         “Never sign anything.” because every time the Indians did, they lost something.


They even got in trouble with a Park Ranger in the Paha Sapa for refusing to sign a Fire Permit, and that sort of thing.


A few months later they were enrolled verbally into the Baha’i Faith by the Native American Teaching Committee. Some of those present included Edwin Roberts and Bill Shipman, who taught me the Faith.


*Note:  Woody went to the Spirit World in 2014.

Dale Ramsdell
Author: Dale Ramsdell

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