Open Spaces; Life With Leonard J. Mountain Chief
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin!!
Being Lakota, and embarking on my brother Jay’s journey of Chanku Luta, (the Red Path) I feel such thankfulness within me for so many reasons it is almost overwhelming. I give many thanks to the Great Spirit for blessing him with guidance, and opening his heart, eyes and hands to love & life which he chose with his decision to take this path. I thank Grandfather for giving him a greater understanding and appreciation of Mother Nature, that he has obviously received with his experiences. I am also grateful for his desire to publish and share these experiences with the world, because if it were not for the Elders, and people such as Jay North, the deep rooted, true meaning of life and sustaining it for us all would perhaps easily be forgotten in a world distracted by the systematic mechanism that drives a false belief upon the importance of modernistic materialism. A fallacy if unnoticed, will continue slowly destroying us, not just outwardly but mainly within. “Open Spaces” reminds our souls, deep down, each and every one of us what’s truly important in life, and we are reminded in Jay’s journey as we walk it with him in it in this book. May we all remember that our hearts are all “Open Spaces” constantly filtering all that surrounds us and yet retaining the love & light.
Open Spaces is such a beautiful re-awakening of the spirit to the once temporarily forgotten.
However, above all, I am proud to call him my brother.
One day soon, may all our ancestors ways, be all ways, for always.
Chikala Kangi ~
( Little Crow )
I am an avid reader. Give me a rainy day, fireplace, cozy chair, new book and I am in heaven. I have always been intrigued by Native American culture, philosophy, ideologies, and rituals. I couldn’t wait to begin reading my newest find. I was naïve to how essential; crucial this unique book would be in assisting me on my life’s journey. I have transformed my life! I digress, for this is to be a review of the unparalleled, incomparable book that truly caught me by surprise. Each chapter has an innate lesson that can be interpreted on whatever level the reader is willing to receive the knowledge. I wanted to devour this book in one sitting. That was not possible for me.
Every chapter needed, deserved to be absorbed, integrated into my being. What I love is that upon rereading any chapter, I gain a new perspective. This book truly resonated with my soul. Leonard’s reverent messages are so important to share with anyone who will attentively listen. I have recommended and gifted this memorable book to all my loved ones. Actually, I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in life, in love of our precious planet and in compassion for people
I read Open Spaces last year. The stories and simple teachings that were in the chapters were just what I needed in my life. It helped me to be a more authentic person and to follow my true path. The stories are very charming and the book is an easy read. I highly recommend it!!!!!!!!!
Santa Barbara, CA
If you are not getting you the guidance you need for where you want to be in your life. Open Spaces will guide you in the Native way. This book is full of Native treasures that will lead you to your goal, just like it did mine. Its wisdom and teachings know no bounds. It will put you into perspectives that you previously deemed unimaginable. This piece will also help you find prosperity in a whole new way, and will aid in healing you mentally and emotionally. Thank you Jay, you changed my life.
I cannot believe how much I felt inspired and open to a whole new world of understanding by reading Open Spaces. This was nothing I thought it was going to be from what I was taught about Native Americans in Social Studies class. We were taught in our books that Indians were savages and mean to us, and that’s why we had to show them who was boss. WOW! It is true, there are two sides to every story.
I decided to read this because I ran into someone who was a Native American, and he said something nice to me, and I was in shock. I asked him how come he was nice and his people weren’t, and he said, “ you only think what some want you to think, and when you find the truth, you will know that you too, are apart of my people.”
Since then I have been looking for the truth, and I just found it. Thank you so much for showing it to me.
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Such profound wisdom in these pages displayed by both men, Jay and Lenard. It is inspiring to want to get to learn more about this Native culture, so inspiring that I just wanted to leave everything behind and go on a journey of my own. To listen to the ancient stories that give a whole new view to everything, and everyone had to be like stepping out of the world of everything you once new and into a brand new world. A world of peace and understanding, where everything finally makes sense. I want to know more, and I can’t wait to get to read his next book on this.
Thank you Jay for this amazing eye opening opportunity.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Nothing in this world could be written more beautifully. So many of these sayings have really opened my eyes and touched my soul. “Need not figure it out; sacred mystery is to be experienced not taken apart. ” This has been one of the greatest that stuck out to me because I have always tried to figure everything out and often times to my distress when I cannot. The Great Spirit is one of them.
Such an amazing sense of peace over came me with just this one profound saying, as if I can rest now, I can be at peace, and I can relax. I don’t have to understand everything and it is ok. Thank you for writing such a beautiful blessing for the people of the earth. Nothing can be written more beautifully, nor experiences had by listening to the words.
This is a wonderfully, concise book which reveals the Great Spirit to us through Jay North’s’ conversations and beautifully profound statements for us to mediate on. For some readers it may be a slightly different approach in learning to be in harmony with our modern world. But this book teaches this harmony by reading the meditative prayers, proverbial statements, and especially with the Prior book of Jay’s journey, a beautiful story which carries a sacred message.
* A huge blessing for our current and future generations.
This book is written as a Native American message to bless the people
of this land and while I am not Native American, I love wisdom, spirituality, love, and reverence from all traditions. It doesn’t threaten my beliefs, nor will it confuse my child, whom I have very much enjoyed reading it to in order to share knowledge of other cultures. How sad just the thought to refuse that opportunity to anyone in fear, simply because of a closed mind. When any ones spirituality becomes so divisive, I would ask them to perhaps contemplate if Jesus, or Mohamed, or Buddha, Allah or any person of God would really want us to disregard what is sacred, beautiful, prayer from other traditions, and to separate ourselves from each other.
I was blown away by this book and was proud to add it to my bookshelf with my collection of Native American teachings. I am glad that publishers are letting REAL Native American writers and artists tell our own stories our own way. The Final Chapter reflects a central component of Native American culture and above all, I was so proud to see this book in the hands of my child whom has now taken an interest in knowing more of our culture and ways. Jay North has definitely set an amazing new standard in the publishing of Native American writing. Now, if only some publisher in this world would gratefully accept the amazing challenge to do the same with Native American history… imagine the impact on future generations.
A simple but truly beautiful and wonderful book that I urge you to pick up and read! This amazing book is one to share with your children and
families if you value them having more value in the world that surrounds them. I know this book has a heartbeat, and breathes life into its reader, it is alive, and it cannot help but cause you to be grateful, and look for goodness in everything around you. It is this books soul purpose on this earth, just as we each have a purpose, this book, like Jay’s mentor in his previous book before this, the “Final Chapter” Jay talks of his amazing Journey and what he has learned by a soul with a heartbeat, a breath and breathed life & love into Jay with his teachings… This was the Great Spirits plan for Jay before he ever walked this earth and so lovingly brought Jay to the path that he so gratefully and lovingly accepted. Now, like his mentor with a heartbeat, and breath, he breathes life into us with his words, prayers and teachings… For this I am forever grateful, forever changed, and perhaps one day I may be able to breathe life into another as beautifully as they have.
First of all I am 20 years old. I am from The Cocopah Indian Reservation. I wanted to tell you that I left it 2 years ago because I despised being native, and being there. My dad is a drunk and left me and my mom when I was 4. I grew up watching my mom struggle and expected to pick up his slack, as if I owed it to them. I didn’t ask to be born. I didn’t ask to be on a Res. I was constantly bugged with my cultures ways by my grandfather, who wanted to tell me all his stories, and they just upset me and I didn’t want to hear them anymore. I didn’t want to be an Indian anymore. I didn’t want to be on a little piece of dirt with all the rest of the Indians forced to be there by the white man who has been making it a tourist attraction and exploiting us to make money for themselves. A few of my friends helped me fix my dad’s old truck and when it was done, I got out of there, just like my dad. It has been 2 years now. 2 long years where I haven’t had to listen to those stories, be my mom slave, or feel trapped on a patch of dirt and looked at by the white like an animal at the zoo in a cage who wants to throw us crumbs once in a while, watch us and say, awwhh how cute, he’s eating it. I was a very angry kid for all this, and a part of me still is. But here in the white man’s world it’s hard not to be even more upset. Everything is about money, and having things and more things and you’d be surprised at what they’d do to get money and stuff. I found someone in white man land who is native like me and he don’t do what the white man does he don’t hate them either. I stayed at his house last week and while he was at work, I seen a book on his shelf, and it was called The Final Chapter. I could relate to the title cause I felt like this place was mine yet I’m not happy about that either. I read it. I don’t like long books, so this was perfect. But after I read it something has changed. I understood my Grandfather’s stories and why he told me them now. I now understand and makes me cry for my mother.
I’m going back home now to my res. I’m at peace now. For whom I am even if I am my father’s greatest loss. Thank you who ever you are for writing this. I know now that the white man’s dirt is not my dirt, or my final chapter. Besides, these girls won’t stop touching my hair.
This book is beautifully illustrated and masterfully written to better understand Native American’s sacred culture of prayer and thought, the values of tradition, honor, and respect. Jay North captures the passionate essence of spiritual truth found at the heart of all religions at the heart of meaning. Gratitude toward our lives, our Earth, and our relations solidifies our lives and opens doors that may have remained closed. His words are the touchstone of all life and all spiritual praxis. When his words come forth, they come from his depths and when we read them, we see change in our lives. Our consciousness beautifully changes. The cup is no longer half empty because we begin
to see with new eyes and a brand new intent toward Mother Earth and our place on this wonderful planet. When we express our thanks and prayers and offer wisdom of the Great Spirit to others, the small self begins to shrink, and the larger relational self begins to expand. This book IS beauty.
Virginia Beach, Virginia
I have bought many books here, but have never felt compelled to write a review until now. As a person who teaches to help the disabled, I know the oneness you can experience with the Great Spirit. I have seen loving; selfless Elders heal the lives of so many who were outcast and emotionally broken. Therefore, when I read this work, my soul jumped forth with joy to finally find out that others such as Jay feel about the natural world as I do. While this work doesn’t focus solely on helping the disabled, but it does encompass the Native American view on many, many topics, including life, death, living, nature, gratefulness, oneness, peace and joy, just to name a few, The Creator with Jay North and his experiences with various cultures, I truly felt I had found “home” when I came upon his book.
In my family’s religion, it is man and himself alone that is supreme, and often man has little to no value and when they die, that’s it, they’re just dead. This wonderful book gives a different perspective on The Spirit of The Creator as it is reflected in people and in nature. A perspective in need of hearing and teaching to so many broken who today, place no value on our natural and sacred world.
To me, this book has been the proverbial cool drink of water on a hot, day. Read it, embrace it, and reclaim your soul. If you do, there is not a single doubt in my mind that you will find it waiting patiently there for you and has been all along.
This book is a masterpiece! This book is a collection of quotes and Prayers to the Great Spirit by Author Jay North, an American Indian leader & healer. Great oratory is often found in a single, heartfelt statement. This powerful little book of wisdom & prayers shares so many precious words on walking the road to a good life for our own personal journey as well as our families and friends.
Filled with these simple yet profound statements that will bring tears to your eyes, laughter to your heart and a lot of love, light and wisdom to your soul. I will keep this book forever to remind me of those that have gone along this path before me. My ancestors never were just those to whom I am related by blood but those to whom I am very much and even closer related to by Spirit. I know this book was written for me to follow and I honor Jay for this. Here are his words, words that heal, guide, and give light.
Because I am a Native American I can really relate to what Writer Jay North is telling the world. Had white man listened when the Native Americans spoke many moons ago, we would not be trying to save Mother Earth and so, so, so many of each other now, along with numerous other faults that we have encountered over the years. This is an awesome book that makes one look at the earth and everything in it and surrounding it, in a very different way. Never mind all those other long books that offer words of wisdom … if you want to read something that means everything, and mankind, reflecting amazing good moral values, common sense, told by a Native American who lived life that way, then this is the book! I have always admired the my culture for our way of life and for being able to sustain ourselves while having to deal with the
“white man’s” treachery and indifference to their own well being, while proudly beating into everyone’s head that their way is the only good way. Native Jay North has truly gifted us with yet another wonderful piece of great insights and practical ways of re-being. Just his example alone suggests activities that help one move towards peace, love, balance and harmony. The author clearly displays ancient wisdom and this reflects to us in today’s world. In doing so, he has illuminated the realities of love & truth to be timeless. A masterpiece of Native American Prayer & words of wisdom.
Reading Jay’s work, I felt as if I was with him on on his journey. At times I felt as if the moments he shared with his mentor were so sacred and personal that I would find myself thinking, “should I even be here” but then quickly remembered it is his story that he has blessed me with being apart of. Jay tells his story in a most unique way from many books I have read in the past, and I think it is his passion for what his journey means to him that does it. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in the spiritual beauty of the Native Americans, because they will not only come to understand them more deeply, but be able to finish the story feeling as if they have become some how apart of it.
This is a book I had a very, very difficult for me to put down once I picked it up. Every chapter had me on the edge of my seat wanting to knnow what was gonna happen next. It is very well written by Jay North and there is no doubt in my mind that this story is true. After reading it, I came back to the world of reality, questioning if this was what life is all about as I watched everyone else go about their business. I have concluded that Jay’s journey is actually what life is really all about, and many of us are too busy to realize that we have become disconnected to the very source that sustains us. I want to go back to this journey of his. I want to hear more of it, or better yet, have my own.
This was absolutely amazing! I didn’t know much about Native Americans ways until I read this. Thank you Jay for allowing me to be a part of your journey. I never really stopped to realize the way these people are, or how they see things. In fact I don’t really recall seeing many Natives around. But this last weekend I was walking along the water front and I heard drumming. I wasn’t sure what it was, but something about it drew me in just like the book did. I followed the sound and what I seen, brought tears to my eyes and I know had I stumbled on this event before, it would have had very little meaning to me, simply cause I knew nothing of it. I not only felt apart of the sacred story I read because it touched apart of me inside, I never knew was there and brought it to life, I also seen this event the same way. Thank you so much for this opportunity. Both of them. I have discovered a huge level of admiration and respect for Natives, and because of their ways, this admiration carries over to all living things.
As a writer, and Native American enthusiast myself, I must say, what an extraordinarily well written piece on an epic lifetime journey and what a privilege it has been to read about it. This is not a journey that ends for Jay simply because his time with his mentor Leonard J. Mountain Chief has. This is a lifetime journey Writer Jay North has embarked himself upon, as is it for anyone who makes the decision to follow such a path in their life. Jay North brings his passion for his families ways to life for anyone blessed to read Open Spaces.
It is hard to imagine how this book could be any more beautiful. It is not just the discovery of such amazing ways in a culture but also, more important, the strength of spirit revealed in Jay’s experiences that draw our eyes to the next sentence, and our hearts to the deeper appreciation of all that surrounds us. Jay’s invitation to the “Blackfeet journey of old” opens a door for all to some degree, that door opens the possibility to gain compassion for the struggles all humanity faces in life. It brings us out of our own self centered world into life as a whole, helping us to realize that we are just a small part of this world here for a purpose, and for reasons we may not yet understand. Once we realize where we must go, even if we don’t understand the reason for our task at hand, the reasons slowly unfold, as does Jay’s in the pages of his amazing journey.
After reading Open Spaces, I sense with such gratitude that the writer within- his journey has discovered the most important peace of all. A peace that comes to ones soul within him when they realize that they are such an amazing part of this universe and they find that in the middle of it is the Great Spirit, that man is also a part of. I believe this writer has also come to know that all man is a part of this center with him and the Great Spirit as well. For we are all one, upon a journey in this universe with our own stories. This one impartiality has touched my heart deeply not simply because I read it, but because I know the writer understands his and has found what is most important. We are all one and I find peace within his.
Des Moines, Iowa
Such a beautiful and inspiring story Open Spaces is. I had taken Native American Spirituality in College many years back, and I remember the profound impact it had on my life then. I guess I just got so caught up in the busy world to stop and appreciate this culture to the fullness it deserves along with Nature and life. This story has brought the desire back to connect with this beautiful and sacred Earth we take for granted. Jay’s story brought me a whirl wind of emotions as I read it feeling everything from humility to joy! I am on to the next book now and I am so happy there is one. Many thanks to Jay North & Leonard for sharing your stories with me.
I am in tears of joy. Wow! Not only do you write so beautifully, but about something I can relate to. The Pipe Ceremony! How fitting. The words you’ve written are so pure and true… I had an eagle experience last summer along the Trinity River. I smoked the sacred pipe and raised my arm to the sky in triangle pose, glancing beyond my fingertips to the heavens, and there was the bald eagle soaring in circles high above. I prayed. A minute later the mergansers quacked there way upriver. Great Spirit was ever so present. I cried tears of deep emotions, and every time I had a breakthrough Spirit showed itself in Nature. I was overwhelmed with joy. I became reawakened and in tune with God, Great Spirit, Creator. This is what my songs are about…the ones I sing and the ones that come through me. Music flows through me. I hear it, especially when I’m in tune. (Lyrics don’t come as easily to me, so I often just have tunes, or only part of a song’s lyrics.) It is the feeling that is the soul of the song anyway. The music is a gift. Being guided on the path, living the prayer is the ultimate gift. I have strong faith, yet I seek clarity of the path ahead. In these times of turmoil I seek companionship, community, oneness with nature and oneness with Creator. I choose the path of healing, love and service. I have no name for the path, for there are many.
I greatly respect you. I give thanks and praise for being touched by you.
With deep Love and Respect,
The Red Path
CHA WAKAN Jay, I’m enjoying reading your book Open Spaces very much! As I am reading about your life’s journey; ” its apparently becomes Indian time to me!”
I found myself falling into your stories with my whole body. I can scene myself right there, watching and anticipating in silence,” what will come next”?
Aho Mitakuye Oyasin.
Catrina in S. B.
I never met Leonard J. Mountain Chief, yet his spirit is closely entwined with mine and I call him brother and I call him friend. This book is more than just the story of the close friendship of two men; it carries forth the spirit of Leonard J. Mountain Chief in such a way that the reader finds themselves feeling a kinship, a brotherhood with him as our mutual God, our father binds us together.
This book carries forth the spirit of the Native Americans. As Leonard and Jay have their adventures, we don’t just read about them, we experience them. Although he tells this book in the first person and it is indeed a book about the experiences that Jay had with this his foster father, Jay North has done a tremendous job in allowing us to experience for ourselves the man who was and who is, for his spirit lives on, Leonard J. Mountain Chief.
I highly recommend this book, not just for those of us who are Native Americans, but for all people everywhere.
I personally have been greatly blessed by it.
Nation of the Iroquois
Jay North captures the heart of the Native Montana, the wisdom of the people who nurture and are preserved by the land of their ancestors. Montana speaks to these people in loving instruction spoken in the words of nature. Interpreted through the knowingness of an honored chief, father and profound friend, In Open Spaces My Life with Leonard Mountain Chief, Jay imparts his experience living on the Blackfeet reservation. Jay had the privilege of walking with the kindness of Leonard and becoming his adopted son; and as fathers do, Leonard initiated Jay into the mindfulness of these Montana Native people. With great generosity, Jay shares with his readers his private communion with his Blackfeet mentor. The delivery of the messages shared with the tone of Jay’s own given name by Leonard Mountain chief, “With Heart Wide Open”. As with all oral tradition, the reader learns and softens to the spoken word of the natural spirit through this loving and appreciative heart of Heart Butte, the heart of the author, Jay North.
Reading Open Spaces was a true joy. Although Jay was telling “his” story, it also became mine as I became a part of the adventures, a part of the journey that he shares with the reader. I felt as if Leonard was my father, teaching me the wisdom of the people. I shared in Jay’s joy with laughter and in his sadness with tears. This is one of the best writings I have been blessed to read. Jay writes with humor, candidness and respect. I cannot recommend it highly enough to anyone interested in the native culture or anyone who is open enough to learn the message of this book.
I had just retired, sold almost all I owned, and started my personal spiritual journey. I’d been a scientist and a rationalist all of my life but had found that science couldn’t answer the Really Interesting questions. So I left science and engineering to pursue my search for Truth.
In that pursuit, I’ve read hundreds of books, listened to dozens of lectures, and surprised myself as I evolved from religionist to theologian to philosopher.
Which brings me to Jay North’s book?
When I was handed this book as a 200-page typed, double-spaced manuscript, I took it home expecting to breeze through it in a couple of hours. Instead, it took me two weeks to digest. I could only read a few pages at a time before I had to stop and think about the message Jay was sharing. Very few books move me that way.
In my spiritual research, I was attracted to American Indian spiritual lore, but until I read this book, I’d found little documentation of the broad overview that this book gives and none so clearly and simply written.
What I found in this book was an excellent summary of my last seven years of philosophical studies. I’ve reached an outlook on the Nature of the Universe that is virtually identical with that of Leonard J. Mountain Chief, Blackfeet Elder.
I found, much to my surprise, that after all that research and study, I’ve finally reached the level of Spiritual Consciousness that the Blackfeet Indians achieved centuries ago.
Before reading this book, I also believed that in one’s search for Truth, one must trod the path through Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, Zarathustra, Krishna, Buddha, Abraham, Moses, David, Jesus, Francis of Assisi, Aquinas, Moore, Szekely, Redfield, Dyer, Hawkins, et. Al., in order to reach the conclusions I’ve reached.
Instead, Jay gives us the summary in short, clear words, as given by his mentor, Chief Leonard. This is the summary and concise statements that I didn’t think existed.
Following are some excerpts from Open Spaces: My Life with Leonard J. Mountain Chief, Blackfeet Elder from Northwest Montana.
“Just as a dieter will regain weight after they come off of the diet and resume their old eating habits, the seeker of real change must be willing to make a real lifestyle change. It is easy to be enthusiastic for a short period of time to achieve a goal, but the true test of commitment will be a change of the heart… a life of service.”
“Everything is perfect all of the time, even when you don’t think it is.”
“… Our true purpose for being here … is Love and the true unfoldment of the Spirit … there is no higher purpose than to love another … We cannot simply examine this thing; we must experience it in order to fulfill our destiny.”
“Spirit always looks after you.”
“Now is a time of paramount importance for all people to hear the message of loving each other and our world, the message of being at peace with one another and our world, and the message of finding joy in each other and in our world.”
Thank you, Jay North, for sharing your experiences with Chief Leonard with us. How blessed you were to have them! Every Spiritual
Seeker should read this book and become enlightened by it. I find in it… Truth, the world needs to read this book.
If you have ever felt lost, confused or even at a cross road in life you HAVE to read this book. The wisdom and knowledge that Jay has put into this book will truly set your mind free… It puts into perspective the possibilities that our beautiful earth and our minds have to offer. It forever changed the way I look at many things that before seemed so complicated… I love this book and highly recommend that you read it again and again.
I read Open Spaces and savored every word. My Ancestors are Native American and yet my eyes are blue and my hair is blonde. My heart rejoiced as I traveled with Jay North on his Epic adventure with his Teacher/Friend and Spiritual Guide. As I turned the pages I was reminded that we are all one and we are never really alone. I have told many to buy this book and everyone of them have enjoyed the messages of a Great Native Elder and the travels of Jay North.