Manataka American Indian Council








William Running Thunder

Apache Elder



Da go Te'. My name is William Running Thunder.  I am of the people you would call the Apache.  We call ourselves the Nde. This means "the people".  The word Apache means "our enemy" and it is from the Zuni language.  This is not our real name.

I am not an official tribal elder.  I have no title.  But I am an 87 year old man with many years of life experience in the ways of my people.

I decided to write for your website when a young friend of mine pointed out to me your message and goal.  I feel it is a good one.  I hope that people read what is written here and find truth that will help them in my humble message and those messages of others.

You see, my father always told me the great words of Goyathlay as I was growing up.  These words molded what I am in many ways.  His most favorite thing to tell me was that Goyathlay said that some days each of us prays in silence.  Some days we pray together aloud.  Other times the old ones pray for us that we learn from their good ways and complete our duties to ourselves and each other thus we do honor to Usen (*The Great Spirit).  This is one reason why I do this. To honor my father and Goyathlay's words.

From my heart I tell you that each person on this earth, no matter how low or high in position or status has a reason to be here.  When the Great Spirit created the earth he did not make anything worthless.  Remember this when you look at others and think they are lower than you.  You will be judged by Usen with the same rules you use to judge others.

When I was a child my father talked all the time of the great leaders of our people.  Over time I became angry because I was not a great Leader like my father spoke of.  I felt like I was no one special.  I felt like my life was a wasted time. And worse, I felt like my father was disappointed in me for not being great like Goyathlay or Cochise. 

I told my father this one day and he said to me that each man and woman has a path that creation put before them.  It is their task in life to find that path for themselves and help their children find their first steps onto that path as well.  Not every path will be one in the open.  But most will be uphill.  Don't worry if your path brings you into the forest.  Not everyone is meant to run in the fields.  If this were so the field would be to full and the forest would be lonely places. 

Though there are great people in the fields, it is not always the people who are the most seen who are the wises of men.  The coyote is strong and runs in the open field showing it's strength and brings fear in the animals it hunts but its feast are few and far between. 

The owl waits quietly in the trees.  Its prey does not fear it for its prey never sees it and the owl eats every night.  This means that the wiser people are often the ones, who like the owl, wait quietly for their time. 

When you do things to find your path and to help the Earth heal, don't run with the coyote unless you are a coyote.  Be like an owl and you may not have your face seen and no one may put up a statue to you, but you will find your path. 

My father was a wise man.  His words are very important, even today.  Especially today. I am an old man, I will likely not be here to see the time of great change come.  But many who read these words will.  My grandchildren and great grandchildren will.  So to them I say, listen to my words and those of my father.  Just because you are not famous or rich or a great leader of a nation does not mean you are not needed.  If you are famous, rich and a great leader of a nation it does not mean you are done your journey.  Do not stop, no matter who you are.  Be instead steady and move forward on your path.  If you do, you are honoring your ancestors who gave you form your God who gave you life.  This is what the world was created to do.  This is what you can do to heal the mother.  This is what you should do. 

The Electric Wigwam (N.H.), 2001, all rights reserved