Coopstick Chaplain

Kiowa Ledger Art (Smithonian)

“Lord, you have made your bow quite ready, and have called for many arrows. You have fashioned them all by hand and sworn an oath over each.” (Hab. 3:9)

This site is dedicated to the memory of O-kuh-ha-tuh David Pendleton, Cheyenne war chief and Christian minister, and those among the Kiowa Koitsenko who followed.

Remember when I went first, and you followed, and what I said was true? I follow another now, his name is Jesus; he speaks the truth, and he only makes war for peace”!


While Quill is my pen-name, it also serves to make a point, that as a Da Na’isha Dene / Nahua Christian Chaplain it is my calling to address the Indigenous Americas and Hawaii by responding to what was spoken over me during my second baptism: The Lord has called me from my mother’s womb and made mention of my name among her people. He has made my mouth like a sharpened sword. Like a polished shaft within His quiver He has hidden me, and in the shadow of His hand he has concealed me.” (Is. 49:1,2)

For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it will speak, and not lie.” (Hab. 2:3) That time of which Habakkuk spoke is now upon us, and with it a demonstrated correlation on the part of the faithful to live up to their high calling as believers in the Most High God. Yet in doing so, we can expect to face resistance to the Gospel’s message, as well as mounting pressure to conform to a counter-ethic of godlessness masquerading as the way. In that regard, parallels can be drawn between the early followers of “The Way,” the warrior societies of Native America, and especially the Spec. Ops. community as a higher force for good. Yet, while resistance movements around the world continue to argue on behalf of individual rights and established freedoms, those ideals will remain forever distant without a corresponding cognizance of God. Accordingly, there can be no free ride for believers either, as we will either strive to become emissaries of the light, or remain victims of our own conceit. Yet, there will come a time when everyone will be forced to chose. “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate the one and love the other, or hold fast to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon too!” (Mat. 6:24)

As a case in point, there is an increasing trend among democratic governments to become the very anthesis of those things they are purported to represent–independent liberty in support of the dictates of an active conscience. Continuing to aggregate power unto themselves, even as the struggle for control continues to intensify, most governments are in effect contending for a future of world dominance. Yet in doing so, one might question their motives in pursuing hegemony. While the current trend is toward greater control over people, there remains the question of God, which is central to the the equation. In answer, we can expect governments, as a means of providing a form of sanctified legitimacy to implement a unified state religion, which is Antichrist. Not only will this be unacceptable for advocates of faith, but counter-intuitive, as our conscience is derived from a higher authority. For that reason, political theology then becomes an appropriate methodology for addressing the disconnect between governance and God-given rights. Although politics is commonly seen as necessarily separate from religion, it remains the moral component of religious theology that provides the necessary subjectivity so often lacking in political discourse. And, by framing that discourse from an Indigenous point of view, a biblical hermeneutics can then be developed which not only serves as a corrective mechanism, but a means whereby the moral ground can be defended in the court of public opinion.

Unfortunately, much of what I predicted over the past twenty years is now coming to pass. Even so, nothing has occurred during the intervening time to change my mind regarding the uprising of the Indigenous peoples of the Americas, who would mount-up to travel the Holy Road again. While Indians are often seen as emblematic of the poverty and suffering many continue to endure as a result of discrimination, natural resource privatization and political exploitation, they’re also representative of an increasing majority who are now poised to suffer a similar fate. And yet, there are many within the so-called herd that are neither buffaloed nor cowed, seeing resistance as the only possible alternative to a future prospect of beef rations and filthy blankets. For them, the phrase “going off the Rez” has taken on new meaning, as reflecting upon their own vulnerability they’ve finally come to realize what Indian’s have known all along–that we’re in a fight for our lives against an enemy who is anti-life and antichrist. As Russell Means has said: “We’re all Indians now!”

Coopstick Chaplain

The Coopstick Chaplain was envisioned not only as a means of eulogizing Christ and the costly grace of liberty he purchased for all those who might receive it, but of the warrior ethos itself. As the virtues of freedom don’t exist in a vacuum, but must be promoted and defended. In doing so, a direct correlation can then be made between the warrior societies of Native America and the US Special Operations and Special Warfare community, which have much in common, as both are emblematic of the personal sacrifice and idealism necessary to defend those inalienable rights of freedom as proscribed by God’s higher law. And “…by ..adding faith to virtue,” (2 Pet. 1:5) we can become fully representational of those privileged few that promote the highest good while at the same time embodying those attributes which can only be developed in the context of right action.

Although the Coopstick Chaplain is but a reflection of my Indigenous ancestry and pastoral orientation, the Coopstick itself has a much deeper significance and spiritual connotation, one that views warfare as essentially spiritual in nature, engaging in war only to defend freedom and to secure a lasting peace, thereby reflecting both mercy and justice. For that reason, the role of ethics then becomes of primary concern, as no one can be a warrior without a corresponding sense of moral justification, as to do so would be to bring moral injury upon oneself. In a sense, warfare is like playing a game of moral jeopardy, exposing yourself to chance, as well as the risk being used as a tool, thereby becoming a victim yourself. And from that perspective, the Coopstick can then be seen not only representative of the right perspective, but as a corrective mechanism emblematic of the courage and moral certitude required to live one’s life in the way of the warrior.

While the Coopstick, in its physical appearance and spiritual symbolism is similar in many ways to a traditional Indian lacrosse stick, or even a Shepard’s crook, a Christian symbol of spiritual guidance and correction, the correlation is apropos, as Christians not only need to step up their game, but often need some sense knocked into their heads. For that reason, the Plains Indian tradition of Counting Coop serves by way of example, as “touching the enemy” was seen as not only the ultimate expression of personal bravery, but of mercy, as it was essentially non-violent–a life not taken, but given. By Counting Coop, a warrior was demonstrating that his martial skill and moral compass had transcended the mundanity of conflict to enter the domain of the holy, as a reflection of both justice and mercy.

In much the same way, the Sun Dance also served, not only as a means of restoring balance to society, but as a public display of personal sacrifice “so that the people might live.” (Black Elk) Yet, in its religious symbolism it also connotes to a type and shadow of Christ, a man much like ourselves, subject to every temptation that was common to man, and acquainted with grief. A martyr for a cause “…who willingly suffered on a tree that we too, having once died to sin, might now live for the sake of righteousness”. (1 Peter 2:23,24) And while my primary inspiration derives from his calling, “…to preach the gospel…, and to set free and send forth those previously held in captivity,” (Lk. 4:18), my motivation is to reawaken the spiritual consciousness and warrior ethos within America, and in so doing to unite its people in the the visionary purpose of its founding–“…to pull down thrones of iniquity, and establish pillars of righteousness in their place.” (“the audible voice from above” Kotzebue, Alaska 2003). The focus of this ministry then is not only about America, but those who were “first on the land,” as exemplars of the warrior ethos, as well as anyone who has ears to hear the voice of the Lord calling us to stand and fight until all are made free. “For the entire creation waits in earnest expectation for the manifestation of the sons of God.” (Rom. 8:19-21)

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