Something interesting about Tomas Shash and his church. He had a group of whites teaching wildnerness skills to them.
"In the late spring of 2007 a man named Tomas Eaglebear came to central Vermont to visit with friends within the community and share native stories, songs, and dance. While here, Sarah and I had the opportunity to meet him and his son, Bear, at a small gathering and sweat lodge ceremony. Tomas is the elder of the Aztlan Native American Cultural Arts Center in Gardner, Colorado. Here he shares traditional wisdom and imparts the core values of his people. During this meeting he came to find out about our school, Roots. He asked us to meet with him to talk about our school and show him and Bear some of our projects and skills. As dinner progressed, Thomas addressed me with a question that cut straight to the heart of things. It was a moment I will not forget, because of the weight and meaning, and of the growing and wonderful relationship that has formed because of it.
Tomas was raised in a Warm Springs Apache family in New Mexico. In his community it was only a generation in the past that the remaining free groups of his people were forced into reservations after a long and brutal war campaign....
Thomas’s request, his question, was: Will Roots come to Colorado, to his community, to teach Apache people what was stolen from them?
Mount Blanca, a holy place for the ApacheI knew immediately that this was something I must do. As a long time student of Tom Brown Jr.’s, a large part of my lineage as a student of these skills is through Stalking Wolf, a Lipan Apache....
Now I was being presented with the opportunity to give something back to the grandchildren of some of the last free native people in this country, and I knew that I must. Sarah was in immediate agreement.
And so it was that in mid August, Sarah, our friend Ed Low, and I began the 2400 mile drive west to Gardner, Colorado, to Aztlan. Aztlan is a community of people that Thomas inspired over twenty years ago and in many ways leads, living the traditions and ways their people have held onto. The members of the community are mainly descendants of the Mimbreno Apache and the Mexican Indian people....
To the south is Mount Blanca, an impressive and forceful presence that Thomas informed us is a sacred place for his people, and one to which many still make pilgrimages. He told us the story of the last time he climbed to the tree line lakes with a seventy eight year old man for just such a reason.
We were greeted as if members of the family. Introductions melted quickly into comfortable conversations. As we met members of Aztlan, I was struck by their openness, generosity, and sense of community, as well as by the fact that each of the members is wholly individual, and genuine. That night, we joined in a sweat lodge, the first of three in the short time that we were there....
We moved quickly using demonstration, explanation, and coaching to pass on bow drill, hand drill, dead fall traps and snares, throwing sticks, slings, flint knapping, atl-atl, sensory awareness, stealth movement, bone work and harpoon heads, tracking, cordage, and a variety of odds and ends from the world of traditional skills....
We found that although most of the people in the community are native people, there are also people of all backgrounds held equally by the community, because, as Thomas explains, what makes one a member of Aztlan is not blood, but intention and lifestyle. To choose fully to follow the old ways and to make community and prayer at the forefront of life is the core of what one needs to become a member.
Yeah, a couple problem with these stories, even beyond something as disturbing as going to white followers of a fraud like Tom Brown.
Mount Blanca was not and is not a sacred site for the Mimbrenos as far as I know. The Chiricahua sacred sites are, naturally, where the Chiricahua homeland was, in the area roughly between Tucson and Nogales.
Mount Blanca is a sacred site for the Dineh, one of their four sacred mountains.
Possibly it may also be a sacred site for the Jicarilla. They're not too far away, and I honestly don't know enough about the sites they held sacred. Maybe also for the Naishan, or Kiowa Apache as most people know them.
I suppose it's possible that Mimbreno or Chiricahua living on Ft Sill might hold Mt Blanca sacred because it's closer than sites in the old homeland.
Most of what I found on Shash shows him giving talks to kids at libraries, plus a few cultural events. I don't think he's a bad person. The ones he's gathered around him seem mostly a bit out of touch. It's the ones he's associated with, Anderson and Yoissef, that are clear frauds and are trying to use him and his church for their own purposes.