Manitonquat, (Born as Francis Story Talbot II, Salem USA, 1929), also known as Medicine Story, is a storyteller and keeper of native lore of the Wampanoag Nation of Massachusetts and ceremonial medicine man of the Assonet Band. A former writer and poet of the internationally acclaimed journal “Akwesasne Notes” and author of several books, he has been a part of the North American Indian Spiritual Unity Movement and co-founder of the Tribal-Healing Council. He is a member of the Association of Humanistic Psychology and a teacher of re-evaluation counseling. He is the founder of Mettanokit. Mettanokit is a non-profit learning center and service organization working for a more human society based on the old values of cooperation and equality and the closeness and caring found in our elder tribal societies.
Manitonquat tours yearly in Europe and in the United States, speaking on the value of the Native American point of view. Three ideas that appear often in his talks and writing are those of mutual love and respect, meeting in circles and respect for all creation.
After his studies at Cornell University he led his own theatre, where he was an author, director and player. Later he turned his back on this and began to search for social values, concentrating on his indian roots. He began to lead sweat lodges and other ceremonies. In addition, he became a story teller, started to use the talking stick, and began to teach Co-Counseling. Following his vision, he began to tour, held lectures and worked with young people and with prisoners.
His openess and generosity go beyond ethnic, political and religious boundaries. His vision and teachings go beyond their Native American origins and link them to modern methods and ideas.
Manitonquat is the author of several books : „Return to Creation“, „The People of the Morning Light“, und „The Circle Way“ – Books full of wisdom which have been translated into a number of languages. Manitonquat said he tries to focus on a few beliefs that appear to be universal among Native Americans and even among some native populations of other areas of the world. He was the poetry editor of Akwesasne Notes for some years, and has published a book of poetry: „Grandfather Speaks“.
Three important beliefs
One universal belief is that of respect — that everything in creation, including every person, deserves respect.
Manitonquat states that, in his prison programs, this concept resonates with inmates, many of whom have neither been given nor seen examples of respect in their lives before.
The next common belief is in “the primacy of the circle as the form in which people should gather together.”
The circle, also an important symbol of the life and death cycle, symbolizes the equality of members in gatherings, as there is no head or end.
The third belief is one of continually thanking the spirit and natural world.
“Our general spiritual attitude is one of thanksgiving. Prayer, for us, is giving thanks,” Manitonquat said.
Manitonquat has also spent over forty years with various intentional communities around the world—as founder, participant, and observer—and so has gathered a wealth of intimate knowledge about their various strengths and weaknesses, as well as effective techniques in communal living.
Children of the Morning Light, Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing (April 30, 1994), ISBN 978-0027659054
Ending Violent Crime: A vision of a society free of violence (a community building program tested and proven successful under the most adverse conditions), a report of a successful prison program, Story Stone Publishing (1996)
Return to Creation, Bear Tribes; 1st edition (July 1991), ISBN 978-0943404202
Over the years there has been some controversy about Manitonquat. There are two main areas of accusation and criticism. Firstly, that he is a white man making money out of native american teachings, changing the traditional stories of the Wampanoag and is basically a “new age fraud”. A second area of criticism is that he is connected with the intentional communities of ZEGG in Germany and Tamera in Portugal, both of which have been criticised for their promotion of free sexuality, for being like cults, and for some of the things said by their founders, Dieter Duhm and Sabine Lichtenfels.
Manitonquat himself asserts that he is of mixed heritage, Wampanoag on his father’s side and much influenced by the stories his grandfather told him. Many people attend his camps and his lectures because of his native american heritage, but much of what he promotes is from other sources, such as co-counselling and from his long experience in intentional communities and the Rainbow Gatherings. His writings, such as The Circle Way make this clear. People who want “pure” native american spirituality will be disappointed.
Traditional stories and myths usually exist in many variants, and retelling them and reworking them is both acceptable and common, and sometimes, when plagiarism takes place, a matter for criticism. The Grimm brothers in Germany changed many of the stories that they were told, but none the less produced a “classic” collection of folk tales.
Many of the ideas and methods that he promotes have little in common with “New Age Esoteric”, being down-to-earth methods for organizing groups, holding meetings, resolving conflicts, and developing and growing together.
Manitonquat makes no secret of his connections to ZEGG and Tamera. Both of these intentional communities have been criticised and ostracised over the years by some other intentional communities and by part of the left. However, the “cult-like” aspects of these groups have diminished with time, and contact with them is no longer a taboo in the German community movement. Certainly, things said or written by Duhm and Lichtenfels remain contoversial or reprehensible, and they cannot change their personal biographies, however their influence on ZEGG today is minimal and Tamera has developed into an active political centre for peace.
Chapter seven of the book “Profiles in Wisdom: Native Elders Speak About the Earth by Steven McFadden.” (1991) Santa Fe NM: Bear & Company – Original Link to Website reads Website Expired (April 2013).
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