Betti VanEpps-Taylor

Shadow Walker…..The Last Manitou Ojibwa

Speaker:  Betti VanEpps-Taylor

Joseph Brown Bear Taylor (1934-2011) was born to an Ojibwa family and grew up as an old-style tribal Indian, in a pan-Indian band that for more than 50 years made its living entertaining tourists in the Garden of the Gods, near Manitou Springs, Colorado.  When not entertaining tourists, they lived as a strong, self-sustaining community that raised their children in old tribal traditions while avoiding the reservation system.  In late-childhood, to be protected from transport to the reservation boarding school system, Brown Bear was exiled to an Arkansas cotton plantation. There he experienced the brutal peonage system and under the guidance of clandestine leaders, participated in a modern “underground railroad” that moved people out of the deep South. Eventually, in a dramatic runaway, he was able to escape and returned to Colorado. Brown Bear’s story is rich in humor, pathos, adventure, and detailed descriptions of the pan-Indian tribal culture that sustained community and created strong young people straddling two worlds.