Clifford ‘White Buffalo Man’ Jake:
Healing and Blessing
Gwen did make arrangements for me to meet Clifford Jake.
Clifford invited me to my first Tipi American Native Church Half Moon Ceremony. It was held on the Paiute Shivwits Band Reservation. This ceremony and the subsequent five ceremonies were spiritually invigorating but comparatively uneventful in resolving my imbalances.
However, sometime on a late afternoon spring day of 1988, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Elder Shaun McCausland, gave me a blessing that stated very clearly I would overcome this bipolar physical imbalance and I would eventually be relieved from any need to take lithium.
Within 5 minutes of Elder McCausland walking out of the trailer home in LaVerkin, Utah, where I was living, three Dine’ men knocked on my door and invited me to a ceremony on the Navajo Reservation. I immediately accepted their invitation. Within 15 minutes, we were on the road, in my car, with the youngest man driving while the other two drove a pickup. I remember an incredible display of lightening bolts illuminating the large desert valley, in the otherwise dark, star-studded night. We arrived at an isolated desert location sometime during the late night of the same day.
It was an honor to be invited to sleep overnight in the young men’s family Hogan. The next morning, I awoke to a bevy of activities. Women were making breakfast and tending to children. Men were putting up a Tipi, preparing the area for receiving and feeding at least 30 people who would be attending the Saturday evening ceremony.
I remember being extremely impressed with the cleanliness and organization of this Hogan home with its outhouse approximately 25 feet from the living quarters. I was also aware that the sand surrounding the Hogan was always kept raked so one could tell if any rattle snakes happened to enter the living space.
The Dine’ Tipi ‘Half Moon’ ceremony was conducted very similarly to Clifford’s ceremonies with one exception: the Roadman’s wife was the cedar person. She did most, if not all, of the healing works. For the first time, I made a ceremony intention to live a much more balanced life.
Up until the midnight water blessing, my experience of this particular ceremony was very similar to my previous ceremonies. However, when the water was finally taken out of the Tipi, I suddenly became extremely ill, vomiting uncontrollably. My body, all of its muscles, joints, ached excruciatingly. I rolled around in this pain for four to five hours. I sensed people were very concerned for my wellbeing. I was aware of the Cedar Woman coming to my aid a number of times. When the Roadman attempted to give me more medicine, I refused to receive it.
As soon as the sun came up, the pain and anguish suddenly left my body, leaving me feeling more exalted and peaceful than I had ever experienced before in my life.
The lunch was wonderful and people, especially children, treated me as though I was part of their family. I politely excused myself to go home and experienced one of the very most pleasant drives I had ever driven.
The following day, I visited with Clifford, who was very interested in knowing every detail of what I experienced. At the near conclusion of this visit, he invited me to attend another ceremony with him that he was conducting. It was in Wells (Wells Band of Paiute) Nevada. I enthusiastically accepted his invitation.
This particular ceremony was held inside a home with the fire outside, something I had never experienced before. My response to Ceremony was very similar to the Dine’ Tipi Half Moon Ceremony, only much worse. Clifford, as had the Dine’ Roadman before him, attempted to give me more medicine, as I was entrenched with this excruciating pain. I again refused to receive it. Again, when the sun came up, the pain and anguish left my body and again it left me feeling exalted and peaceful.
As we were eating our Ceremonial lunch, Clifford invited me to yet another ceremony. It was to be held at the Shivwits Band Reservation. Again, I enthusiastically accepted.
The ceremony was held inside a deserted house. I remembered this building being used to cook the meals for the first Tipi Half Moon Ceremony, the one I had attended some time ago. This latter ceremony was patterned almost exactly as the other two. However this time, while we were eating our ceremonial lunch, Clifford expressed very lovingly that the Medicine first shows you how sick you are and then, when you receive the Medicine while you are the sickest, it will heal you.
A week or so after the last Shivwits Ceremony, Clifford and Yeta (Clifford’s wife) dropped by my house for coffee. During our conversation, he asked me if I were still interested in doing another ceremony. I said “Absolutely.” He then said he was going to be conducting a ceremony on the Indian Peaks Tribal Grounds this coming Saturday and invited me to attend. I committed to being there.
When I showed up, I realized I was the only person who was going to be in the Tipi. Clifford, Yeta and a young man were there. The young man was to assist Clifford in the ceremony called and set up just for me. Clifford gathered all of the wood, the peyote and put up the Tipi, specifically for me.
Again this Indian Peaks ceremony was no different than the previous three ceremonies with one exception: when I was in the throes of agony, Clifford walked around the fire and on his knees, leaned over to me while I was lying in my vomit. He offered me a ball of Medicine, saying “James, I have prayed over this medicine especially for you”. I remember this as though it was yesterday. I whimpered an “Oh, Clifford” and reached up and took the Medicine from Clifford’s hand and placed it into my mouth. The peace that immediately came over me was indescribable, and has never left me for these last 20 or so years.
A couple of months after this ceremony, I visited Clifford and Yeta to thank them for the part they had in healing me of the Manic-Depression disease. I hadn’t taken lithium for some time, and had begun to be a functioning human being again.
During this visit, I asked Clifford to take this Medicine to the White Man. He said in no uncertain terms that he would not. He said if he did, his fellow Medicine People would kill him, and if I took these Medicines to the White Man, “The Indians will try to kill you and the white man will throw you into jail.” With these words said, Clifford started more than a decade process of training me in his Medicine Ways. This training concluded with him blessing me with his Cedar Bag just a few weeks prior to him moving into the next world.