The Road Man

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Even some Anglos worry about encroachment. Dr. Carl Hammerschlag, a Phoenix psychiatrist who served for twenty years in the Indian Health Service and authored a book on Native American healing called The Dancing Healers, says he regularly attends peyote meetings. Even so, he worries too many whites will crowd the Indians out.

"I don't think white people should be excluded," he says. "But my worry is we'll overwhelm the resource. My concern is great vans of people will be driving around the reservations looking for peyote meetings and barging into tepees. You can't walk into a peyote meeting and say `Okay, do me.'"

None of this bothers Nelson Fernandez, whose rituals helped him figure out who he was and gave him the strength to adjust to the Anglo world that he thought had shut him out. If the ceremonies helped him, then they can surely give other urban Indians the strength to thrive in a strange land. And if a few Anglos learn some tips on the way, then what's the harm? It's not up to him to be the gatekeeper of who can worship the Native American way.

"Those issues are God's, not mine," he says.

He is only the Road Man.

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Terry Greene