Sunday, May 18, 2008

BUS STORY # 84 (Dependable Hickory Strongheart, Part 1)

Back in February, I wrote about another rider’s story about participating in the peyote ceremonies of the Native American Church. That story included a reference to someone with the remarkable name of Dependable Hickory Strongheart.

He tells me there’s a “white guy” from Santa Fe that’s been coming to the ceremonies. Of course, I think to myself, of course he’s from Santa Fe. Apparently he wants to film a documentary about the ceremony, but he’s been told it won’t make any sense to him unless he understands it from the inside first. So he’s coming to the ceremonies without his camera.

“His name is Dependable Hickory Strongheart.”

“That’s quite a name for a white guy,” I reply. I say the name over and over because I want to remember it long enough to write it down when I get the opportunity.

“He got that name when he made a walking stick and the wood was no good, so he made another one out of hickory.” And then he adds, “It’s on his birth certificate, too.”

I will also google that name after my peyote harvest search and come up blank.

BUS STORY # 72, Part 2

A couple of weeks later, I received an anonymous comment on the blog.

So here's something random. I'm sitting here wasting time googling people from years ago. In 1987 I worked in a toy store in Santa Fe and remember a young brother and sister that used to come in a hang out. I'll never forget their names: Dependable Hickory Strongheart and his sister, Hallelujah Misty Mountain Strongheart (Lu Lu for short) Really unique kids, I always wondered where they ended up. BTW, I'm not buying the story of how he got his name. He had it when he was a kid. I think there were other sibs too. Wonder what their names were.

I had my own doubts, not only about the origin of the name (especially in light of my co-rider’s addendum to his story, “It’s on his birth certificate, too”), but also about the existence of the person so-named himself.

Even more amazing than the confirmation is the fact it happened at all. What are the odds, I wonder, that someone would sit down and google “Dependable Hickory Strongheart?” Or that anonymous would wait until after I posted my story before googling? What if he (or she) hadn’t taken the time to post his (or her) comment? I’d still be treating New Mexico’s Dependable Hickory Strongheart like Arkansas’ Ivory-billed Woodpecker or California’s Big Foot.

Anonymous’ comment is like the tip of some fantastic iceberg. Which is why this story is Part 1. I sense there is more to come. Not that I plan to go stalking, just that I have my radar set because the story of Dependable Hickory Strongheart, like the truth, is out there.

Thank you, anonymous. Thank you very much.


Thanks to JM in Brooklyn for this week's This Week In feature.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just stumbled on this website. Years ago, a boyfriend from Santa Fe told me about these kids - he knew them - and I always remembered their names. There's at least one more, named "Faith Brings Out the Wild". I thought the other sister was called "Hallelujah Mist On the Mountain". My understanding was that they were given those names at birth.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

I’m happy you wrote. When I recounted the original story (# 64, Part 2), I was recounting someone else’s story about Dependable Hickory Strongheart. I was skeptical about this person’s existence until I got the comment from the first anonymous. His (or her) comment was the occasion for this second story. Given that anonymous 1 worked in a toy store in Santa Fe, I find myself wondering if your years-ago Santa Fe boy friend worked in a toy store.

I noticed a discrepancy between Hallelujah’s names – your “Mist On The Mountain” to anonymous 1's “Misty Mountain.” Makes it even more interesting to me.

I’m happy to have a third name now: “Faith Brings Out The Wild.” Anonymous 1 was pretty sure there were other siblings.

Thank you so much for posting this comment.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. I am Dependable Hickory Strongheart. I have 5 sisters and live in Santa Fe. I just completed my Bachelor's Degree in Documentary Studies at the College of Santa Fe, and my final film thesis was on the Native American Church. I thought I'd google myself to see what was out there, and I find this blog...I don't know anything about this blog except that you all are talking about me. I'll poke around and see what I learn. D.H.S.

9:40 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Dependable Hickory Strongheart, I am delighted to have finally found you. [hickman's response came on 2/4/09]. Given your degree in Documentary Studies, I'd say the original bus rider who told me about you was right about your doing a documentary on peyote religious ceremonies. And given that you have five sisters, the two anonymous comments which referenced two of your sisters are probably also accurate. I would like to know a lot more. I think it would make an interesting sequel to this particular story. For example, how you came by your unusual name. Please consider it. Thank you for posting this comment.

7:00 AM  
Blogger Mercy Strongheart said...

Dear Busboy,
This is hilarious! My name is Mercy Blue Sky That Never Darkens (seriously). I'm one of Dependable Hickory Strongheart's five sisters (we just call him Hickory, though I think he is increasingly going by D.H.).

Yes, you got the right Hickory, he did his documentary on peyote ceremonies after years of study and participation. Anyway, his is not my story to tell. We grew up in Santa Fe, where hippie kids with strange names abound (Random Comet Love Joy and Sunday Peaches, to name a couple).

I like the concept of your blog! I ride the bus a lot in Portland, Oregon. My mom sent out a link to your blog, which is how I found this posting about my brother. You'll probably be hearing from my other sisters, if you haven't already, and hopefully they'll fill you in on their names, too.

Thanks for the chuckle!

10:12 AM  
Anonymous Faith Strongheart said...


I heard about your blog from our mother, Paula Strongheart, who heard about it from her Mohawk friend in upstate New York. Our mother gave us all our "unusual names". She named most of us after we were already born and said she waited for us to "tell" her our names. Meaning that, she wanted our personalities to come out and show her what we wanted to be called. Her spiritual beliefs were heavily influenced by the Native Americans, hence the very creative names. She didn't name our sister Mercy for a few years b/c no name came to her, so we just called her "baby sister". Our names on our birth certificates are (oldest to youngest):
1. Lake Manyfeathers
2. Faith Brings the Wild
3. Mercy Blue Sky that Never Darkens
4. Hallelujah Mist on the Mountains
5. Dependable Hickory
6. Sara Beth Aurelia Star

Most of us dropped the last names listed on our birth certificates and just used Strongheart. And, some of us are now married and use our husbands names. Nonetheless, we are all very proud to be named what we are.

Faith Strongheart

11:30 AM  
Blogger Busboy said...

Faith and Mercy (beautiful combination, that), I can’t tell you how excited and how touched I am by your comments.

Your comments are posted to what is now the second of three posts on your brother and your family. I posted the last one just last Sunday -- # 121. (

I mention this because I indulged in some daydreaming about your parents and how you came by your names. I concluded by reminding myself and anyone else reading that “…this is my pipe dream, not Dependable Hickory Strongheart’s story. If past experience is any guide, the real story is something else, and more interesting.” Your stories have proven me right.

Faith, I’m grateful your response was to find these blogs “hilarious.” Since your brother’s comment, I’ve worried I’d gone from writing about someone who isn’t real to poking into a very real someone’s – several someones at this point – personal lives. I would be chagrinned to learn I’ve made any of you uncomfortable. Your responses have been most gracious.

Mercy, I love that you ride the bus in Portland! By the way, your light rail is iconic here in Albuquerque, and often cited as an example of what we could have here. So far, it’s been a tough sell. But I digress.

I’m especially happy to learn you are “all very proud to be named what we are.” As well you should. I’m also grateful to your mother (and to “her Mohawk friend in upstate New York” -- there’s another story I’d love to know) for sending the link to you. And, again, thank you both so much for writing.

Peace and joy.

5:09 PM  
Anonymous said...

Hello Dependable Hickory: This is Phil & Mel from (La Jolla)San Diego, CA. We met you when we had a juice bar called the "Juice Kaboose". Do you remember us? We have never forgotten you. I googled your name and found this blog. Please let us know if you read our note. We've always remembered your gentle soul.

Phil & Mel

10:50 PM  

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