Rolling Thunder (person)

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Rolling Thunder
John Walter Pope

(1916-09-10)September 10, 1916
DiedJanuary 23, 1997(1997-01-23) (aged 80)
Known forNew Age spiritualist
Spotted Fawn
(her death 1984)
Carmen Sun Rising
(his death 1997)
ChildrenMala Spotted Eagle
Buffalo Horse
Ozella Morning Star
Patty Mocking Bird[1]

Rolling Thunder (birth name: John Pope, 1916–1997) was a hippy spiritual leader who self-identified as a Native American medicine man.[3] He was raised in Oklahoma and later moved to Nevada.[4]

In print[edit]

John Pope has been the subject of several books, notably Rolling Thunder (1974), by American journalist and author Doug Boyd, and the book Rolling Thunder Speaks: A Message for Turtle Island (1998), a narrative edited by his second wife, Carmen Sun Rising Pope. He also figures prominently in Mad Bear (1994), Boyd's follow-up book to Rolling Thunder, which chronicles the life of Mad Bear Anderson, who Boyd says was a peer and mentor to Rolling Thunder.[4]

In music[edit]

Pope appears on Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's 1972 album Rolling Thunder. His voice is heard on the first track of Side A: "Rolling Thunder/Shoshone Invocation". In 1975/76, Bob Dylan organized and headlined a nationwide series of concerts called the Rolling Thunder Revue; however Dylan chose this name after an incident where thunder "boomed" in the sky, rather than naming it after any person.[5]

On audio cassette[edit]

Rolling Thunder appears in taped interviews with John Trudell and Michael Chosa in which he describes the contemporary treatment of Native Americans.[6]

Life and legacy[edit]

In 1975 he and his wife Spotted Fawn founded a non-profit community on 262 acres (1.06 km2) of land in north-eastern Nevada (just east of the town of Carlin) that they named Meta Tantay. It operated until 1985; visitors over the years included Mickey Hart.[7]


Rolling Thunder died in 1997 from complications associated with diabetes. He also suffered from emphysema in the later years of his life.[4]


Rolling Thunder's given name was John Pope.[8] At times he claimed to be part Cherokee[8] and at other times Shoshone[9] or Hopi.[citation needed] He never provided proof of any Native heritage. He has been accused of cultural appropriation and cited as an example of a non-Native who taught fraudulent, "Native-style" ceremonies, often for money.[10][11] He often claimed to represent the Western Shoshone Nation.[9]


  • Native Healer: Initiation Into an Ancient Art by Bobby Lake-Thom and Robert G. Lake – 1991 (Foreword by Rolling Thunder) Quest Books ISBN 978-0-8356-0667-7


  • Rolling Thunder – Mickey Hart (1972)
  • Rolling Thunder Speaks: the Owyhee Confrontation (Audio Book)
  • From Alcatraz to Chicago - with John Trudell and Michael Chosa (Audio Book)



  • Rolling Thunder: Healer of Meta Tantay – UFO TV – DVD Release Date: February 22, 2005


  1. ^ a b Laszlo, Ervin (February 12, 2009). The Akashic Experience: Science and the Cosmic Memory Field. Inner Traditions. ISBN 1594772983.
  2. ^ The Shamanic Powers of Rolling Thunder: As Experienced by Alberto Villoldo, John Perry Barlow, Larry Dossey, and Others. Bear & Company. ISBN 1591432278.
  3. ^ Mystics, Magicians, and Medicine People: Tales of a Wanderer
  4. ^ a b c Rolling Thunder Speaks
  5. ^ Rare photos of Bob Dylan's epic Rolling Thunder tour, CBS News, retrieved April 14, 2016, I was just sitting outside my house one day thinking about a name for this tour, when all of a sudden, I looked into the sky and I heard a boom! Then, boom, boom, boom, boom, rolling from west to east. So I figured that should be the name.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mickey Hart at Meta Tantay
  8. ^ a b Panther-Yates 40
  9. ^ a b Rolling Thunder speaks : the Owyhee confrontation
  10. ^ G. Hobson, "The Rise of the White Shaman as a New Version of Cultural Imperialism." in: Hobson, Gary, ed. The Remembered Earth. Albuquerque, NM: Red Earth Press; 1978: 100-108.
  11. ^ Chidester, David, Authentic Fakes: Religion and American Popular Culture. University of California Press; 2005; p.173: "Defenders of the integrity of indigenous religion have derided New Age shamans, as well as their indigenous collaborators, as 'plastic shaman' or 'plastic medicine men.'"


Further reading[edit]

  • The Shamanic Powers of Rolling Thunder: As Experienced by Alberto Villoldo, John Perry Barlow, Larry Dossey, and Others by Sidian Morning Star Jones and Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. (editors) - Bear & Company (November 2016) ISBN 978-1591432272
  • The Voice of Rolling Thunder: A Medicine Man's Wisdom for Walking the Red Road by Sidian Morning Star Jones and Stanley Krippner, Ph.D. (editors) - Bear & Company (September 2012) ISBN 978-1591431336
  • Dream Catchers: How Mainstream America Discovered Native Spirituality By Philip Jenkins (2005) Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-518910-0. 2004.
  • Hollywood and the Supernatural by Sherry Hansen and Brad Steiger – St. Martin's Press (1990).
  • Mad Bear: Spirit, Healing, and the Sacred in the Life of a Native American Medicine Man by Doug Boyd (1994) Touchstone
  • Mystics, Magicians, and Medicine People: Tales of a Wanderer by Doug Boyd – Marlowe & Co (1995) ISBN 978-1-56924-880-5
  • Personality Theories: Critical Perspectives by Albert Ellis, Mike Abrams and Lidia Abrams (2008) Sage Publications, Inc. ISBN 978-1-4129-1422-2
  • Rolling Thunder: A Personal Exploration into the Secret Healing Powers of an American Indian Medicine Man by Doug Boyd – Delta (1976) ISBN 978-0-385-28859-0

External links[edit]