President – INDIO Trail – 1996 – Present
In 1995 – I took a buy-out (early retirement) from AT&T. Some people say they escaped ‘corporate america’. I don’t see it that way. That job allowed me to provide for my children and give them more than my parents could afford to give me and my brother. While I was able to give my children more from a financial perspective…I don’t know that it was a better life. Ever hear the song “The cat’s in the cradle and a silver spoon…”?
After ‘early retirement’ I needed purpose and meaning in my life. The formation of INDIO Trail in 1996 filled that need. Speaking engagements and workshops. I enjoyed the travel and the people I met. The money was good for the non-profit. We were able to buy equipment and work with people, communities, and other non profit organizations that couldn’t afford our services otherwise.
In 1999 I had an opportunity to go on a ‘journey’. Travel to all of the American Indian Colleges with a focus on healing. Some of the equipment we had purchased was camera and video gear. In 2000 – I celebrated my 50th b-day by joining a core group of about 30 people and we walked from Los Angeles to Washington D.C. in an effort to raise awareness of domestic violence. Sometimes the group swelled to hundreds as we approached larger cities. Police and Fire departments walked with us and acted as escorts to assist us. They see the ‘fresh impacts’ of violence – people like us deal with the scars and pain on the inside. Almost daily on this walk… we held or attended gatherings and ceremonies.
Documentary/video I shot and edited during that Walk can be viewed on our Hawk Vision Productions page.
We had plans to go to Scotland in 2001. Walk from the Highlands to London. At the last minute our permits for the walk were pulled. Mad Cow disease. Remember that? “No can’t walk…you might spread the disease across Scotland and England”. Never got to go. Bummer.
The journeys went on for a few more years. Between the groups we partnered with and INDIO Trail projects, I visited every state in North America – including Alaska. Also Mexico and Canada. Stayed at many nice hotels, ‘mom and pop’ motels, people’s homes, churches, slept in a van a few times. Witnessed the majesty of nature as well as the devastating impact we humans have had on Mother Earth in the name of progress and convenience. I’ve been humbled in the presence of our Veterans. I’ve been to most Federal Prisons and many State – County Prisons in the U.S. When you work with perpetrators and gang members you sometimes go to places you never dreamed you would. And you know you’re probably not gonna get the tourist version of Detroit or a village in New Mexico when the directions read “get off at exit 59 and we will come bring you in”. Oh…we worked with victims too. But I was not as effective with victims. When they cry… I cry.
Enjoyed the adventures and the people. My work gave me experience in photography/videography – documentaries – and journalism. Many of the videos I created were used by other non-profit groups working in the fields of substance abuse, domestic violence, gangs, and suicide. The videos were also focused on healing, honoring Veterans and the promotion of cultural traditions. My photos and writings have been published in nationally distributed newspapers and magazines. A few were displayed at the opening of the Native American Wing of the Smithsonian.
After so much time away from home… I took what I thought would be a short break to be with Grandchildren and Family. But as the saying goes “Wanna make God laugh, tell him your plans.” That short break turned into a few years. I’m back now. And ready for whatever the future holds for INDIO Trail.