The Trickster

1 Jan

As you may know most Native American tribes have an oral story-telling tradition often including a character who is described as the Trickster. He may be in animal form such as coyote. His name varies by tribe; for example, the Lakota call him Iktomi; the Blackfoot call him Napi. The trickster is not by definition a bad guy. He is merely a character engaging in activities forming a story that is a teaching tool.


Recent events in our country and in the world, primarily revolving around our president and others like him, have left me feeling helpless, depressed, and concerned for the future of our country and our planet. Then one morning, out of nowhere, my angry brain labeled Donald Trump the Trickster. I chuckled. And then I realized how apt that appellation is. Because whatever happens in the future resulting from his actions creates a tale that can teach future generations how not to behave, hot not to treat other people, how not to preserve our planet.


January 2019 Lakota Way

1 Jan

A man can never have the power to give life the way a woman can. But he can honor the purpose for which he is suited – to be the hunter and the warrior. The hunter feeds and clothes his family; the warrior protects them. A man is born to be both, to follow the path laid out by countless generations before him. Some emulate the bear or the fox or the wolf, yet all are taught to be like tusweca – the dragonfly. Though no larger than a child’s finger, it is the example of transformation and swiftness. Some days the man is the hunter and at times he must be the warrior. Sometimes he must transform himself in less than a heartbeat to do what is necessary and act with swiftness to honor his calling.

Joseph M. Marshall III

Snow NM

28 Dec

It’s been a pretty boring stay in New Mexico this year. Hence, few posts or pictures. Last year we had no snow; this year just a wee bit:

These large flakes accumulated on Pippy during our short walk back from the in-park dog run.


17 Dec

As some of you may know, I’m a fan of auto racing. That comes from having spent many years in and around Indianapolis and the ‘Brickyard’. Now my interest is primarily NASCAR as races often take place near my travel destinations and, at least, most races are televised on local stations.

Out for a walk with Pippy near our current location, I spotted this beautiful rig, presumably a carrier/garage for a current racing team. Although its plates say Oklahoma, a little on-line research didn’t tell me much….

Lakota Way December

1 Dec


Some things in life are big and bold and loud, and others are not. But those things small and quiet are necessary as well. One of the small and quiet things is fortitude. It is that persistent force within us all, the essential ingredient that makes bravery and perseverance possible. Fortitude can enable us to quietly, steadfastly endure hardship. It is an unyielding persistence, sometimes resistance, no matter the enormity of the opposing force. It can enable us to make the best use of our strengths and abilities.

Joseph M. Marshall III

A Letter to Teddy

28 Nov

The following was read on KRWG public radio and appeared in the Las Cruces Sun Times. It expresses what so many of us are feeling at this Thanksgiving season in such strident times.

Dear Teddy, approach life honestly, and with gratitude – Thanksgiving. What, other than to be grateful for our lives, would I tell a visiting child. (Such as my marvelous grandson, Teddy.)

Not that he’d listen. At any age, I’d have wriggled uncomfortably until allowed to go play.

In our time of renewed rancor and tribalism, what would I tell a kid, who’s inheriting the horrors of unbridled climate change we caused? (But then, in the late 1940’s, what would I have told little Peter, about to face a world where a Holocaust had just occurred, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were toast, and a Communist hid under every bed?)

What really matters?

To keep in mind always that others have roughly the same needs and feelings we do. We’re part of a family, a community, a nation, humanity, and some greater ecology of animals, plants, and human products that can destroy everything. Whether or not the Christians or the Buddhists are right, karma (that we reap what we sow, one way or another) – and heaven and hell (a more primitive, mechanistic version of that) are helpful ideas.

With or without Santa or God, doing what you think is right feels better, once you’ve gotten some youthful craziness out of your system – to do what you think is right. Stealing and other misbehavior may tempt you; but they’re not worth the consequences, or the nerve-wracking suspense wondering whether or not you’ll get caught.

Recognize what you are: an animal, though one with opposable thumbs and consciousness. You’ll hear fancy nonsense about not being an animal, but you are one. However, you have the blessing and curse of consciousness. Only we humans produce symphonies, poems, or penicillin. Yet only we humans herd thousands of others of our own kind into enclosures and kill them.

See the world clearly. It has beauty and horrors. People you love will die. You will die. Don’t fall into the trap of creating some complex way of denying those realities. Face them. Live honestly and, when the time comes, face death honestly.

Be honest but kind to others. Lying means worrying, and the burden of piling more lies on top of the first.

Be alert for dangers; but expecting the best from people often inspires the best in them.

There are fundamental differences between people, but not based on color or religion. One is between people who never doubted, during childhood, that they were loved – and people who did doubt that, often with good reason. If you’re among the former, be grateful for a marvelous emotional head start, and be patient with others not so lucky. If not, maybe life saddled you with a deep insecurity and urges to lunge awkwardly after illusions of security.

Be true to yourself. Parents and teachers have much to offer, but have their own insecurities and misapprehensions. They matured facing a different world, different challenges. Treat what they say like the water in a gold-miner’s tin pan: sift it carefully to find the nuggets. Hear the part of the sermon about love and humility, but ignore the divisive part, and illusions that only your group has The Truth. Recognize that we live in a somewhat capitalistic society, but don’t conclude that other people and natural resources exist merely for you to manipulate and profit from.

Last, do not take or use more than you need. Enough yields a deeper satisfaction than excess. And helps preserve.

Savor each morsel of life. Be grateful.

Las Cruces resident Peter Goodman writes, shoots pictures, and occasionally practices law. His blog at contains further information on this column.

November Lakota Way

1 Nov


The gift of self is the most meaningful gift anyone can give. Wars and cataclysmic events will always give rise to heroes, but while life is ordinary for many of us, it still demands sacrifice that will go unnoticed, except for those who benefit from it. And sometimes we must remember there is a warrior in all of us, one who is always ready to ride forth to make the sacrifice.

Joseph M. Marshall III