I was born in the early 1960s on the Saginaw Chippewa Isabella Reservation (Michigan) to a full-blood Anishinaabe father and Portuguese mother.
We moved to Northern California and I grew up in a small town along the Sacramento River called Rio Vista, but spent almost every summer of my youth on the reservation. One of those summers included working with the U.S. Youth Conservation Corps, which became the foundation for my work history related to the environment and conservation.
I left high school early but obtained a G.E.D. before enlisting in the U.S. Army, married/divorced, and have two sons, two step-daughters, and eight grandchildren.
While stationed at Fort Knox, Kentucky was discharged under honorable conditions before Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but believe in Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity, and personal courage.
After the military, I joined the California Conservation Corps (CCC), attending the academy at San Andreas, before receiving CA Department of Forestry (CDF) training and certification in wild-land firefighting.
During my tenure with the CCC, I lived and worked near Mount Shasta at Siskiyou Center (Yreka), in-addition to southern California at Camarillo Center (Ojai). My last assignments while living in barracks on Treasure Island Naval Base (San Francisco), included helping build inner-city parks in both SF and Oakland; additional firefighter training with CDF at Mount Diablo; and assisting with (eco) restoration efforts at Baker Beach, and (structural) at Oakland Zoo.
Next, I landed a job as a firefighter with the U.S. Forest Service in Sequoia National Park, on one of only two (in the country at that time) all-Native hotshot crews. My most-challenging fire was in the Golden Trout Wilderness, where we were flown-in by Chinook and smaller helicopters, before hiking down cliffs. Exciting work, and a chance to see part of the landscape few get to.
Following the forest service, I lived and worked a few years in Yosemite National Park, spending summers at Glacier Point and winters in Curry Village, Yosemite Village, and Yosemite Lodge. I also had an opportunity to work occasionally at Badger Pass ski lodge, plus the park’s historic Ahwahnee Hotel.
I’ve held other jobs including security at the CA Department of Criminal Justice Planning; as purchasing assistant for Native employment non-profit California Indian Manpower Consortium; and served as editor of The Diva Digest (1995-2001), a quarterly newsletter (which had a circulation extending to five countries) for fans of Motown legend Diana Ross.
Since leaving California, I’ve lived and worked in Reno, Nevada, at a men’s club (I was the guy at the door who decided if you were going to come in or not); spent five years in Sin City (living in a condo less than a mile from the world-famous Strip); before returning to Michigan for a few years to work front desk and later security at my tribe’s Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort.
Several years ago, I returned to the west, residing in Phoenix, Arizona briefly before returning to Las Vegas, Nevada.
More-recently, I was part of a volunteer team at Alan Bible Visitor Center, where my primary duties for National Park Service were to provide the public with information on Lake Mead Recreation Area.
After two decades together, my partner Mike and I were wed following the June 2015 historic U.S. Supreme Court (Obergefell v. Hodges) decision on marriage equality. Mike is a casino industry executive while I pursue writing.