Rolling Thunder (person)

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Rolling Thunder
Born John Pope
Nationality American
Known for New Age spiritualist
Spouse(s) Spotted Fawn, Carmen Rising Sun

Rolling Thunder (birth name: John Pope; 1916–1997 was a spiritual leader who self-identified as a Native American medicine man.[1] He was raised in Oklahoma and later moved to Nevada.[2] He has been called "the legal advisor and medicine man for the Western Shoshone Nation".[3]

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.[2]

In film[edit]

Rolling Thunder had bit parts in Billy Jack (1971), The Trial of Billy Jack (1974) and Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977).[4]

In music[edit]

Rolling Thunder appears on Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart's album Rolling Thunder, a 1972 release. In 1975/76, Bob Dylan organized and headlined a nationwide series of concerts called the Rolling Thunder Revue (named for thunder itself, according to Dylan.)[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.[2]


Rolling Thunder's given name was John Pope.[8] At times he claimed to be part Cherokee[8] and at other times Shoshone or Hopi.[citation needed] He never provided proof of any Native heritage.[citation needed] He has been accused of cultural appropriation and in that context mentioned as an example of people who teach Native-style ceremonies to non-Natives, often for money.[9] His affiliation with the Western Shoshone Nation generally gives dis-merit to the claim of cultural appropriation, as well as his lack of need for income by such appropriation.[10]

He claimed the movie Billy Jack was loosely based on his life; he was a bit player in the film.[4]


  • 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
  • Billy Jack (1971)
  • The Trial of Billy Jack (1974)
  • Billy Jack Goes to Washington (1977)


  1. ^ Mystics, Magicians, and Medicine People: Tales of a Wanderer
  2. ^ a b c Rolling Thunder Speaks
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b Rolling Thunder at the IMDb
  5. ^ "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." Rare photos of Bob Dylan's epic Rolling Thunder tour, CBS News, retrieved April 14, 2016 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Mickey Hart at Meta Tantay
  8. ^ a b Panther-Yates 40
  9. ^ Ivakhiv 278
  10. ^


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]