Richard Joseph Nathaniel Rouse
Nathan Standing Bear
(1949 – 2017)
Nathan was the founder, creator, and organizer of a group which stood for the message: “One Earth Family,” a noble legacy to his life’s work and spiritual vision. He drew together many hundreds of people from all over the globe and he was deeply loved and respected by his friends and community.
Nathan was an Earth and nature lover with an intense appreciation of birds and all living creatures. He respected Mother Earth as the source of life and rallied against those who view the Earth as a trove of resources to be exploited for profit at the expense of planetary well-being. He spent the last five months of his life on the front lines of Standing Rock, North Dakota with those who, on their own Native reservation land, stood to protect a main artery of our nation’s water supply coming in from Canada, the Missouri River, from a Texas-based oil company’s environmental threat to its viability.
It was in the Kwajalein Marshall Islands in Nathan’s early teens where he became acquainted with indigenous island natives and tribal culture. He would often reminisce about fishing in the reefs, motor-boating to nearby islands, surfing coral reef waves, and cooking fish in open fires pits on pristine beaches with kind, indigenous natives who embraced and enjoyed his presence.
Headed for the west coast in his early twenties he became snowbound high in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, where he persevered through heavy blizzard conditions for four months of an intense winter, heating his cabin with wood chopped with an ax after the chainsaw he was provided, “failed after the first week.”
Nathan arrived in South Lake Tahoe in 1970 where he resided for a time in a teepee on a local Ranch. Becoming a skilled carpenter specializing in log work, he made Tahoe his home where he was based for the remainder of his life. He too became an accomplished pen and ink/watercolor artist producing many fine pieces of art throughout his life.
He moved from this home in 2008 referring to himself as a ‘nomad’ living in the camper shell of his truck while pursuing his heart’s vision and devotion to Native American culture, community, spiritual goals, drumming and prayer songs. He attended many Native American gatherings, from yearly Sundance ceremonies to numerous others in North and South Dakota, Idaho, Montana, Utah, California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, New Mexico, and Canada. He also sponsored and led his own gatherings most often in South Tahoe, Grass Valley and Truckee, California, and occasionally in Ashland, Oregon, always to return home to the Tahoe/Carson Valley area to park his truck and gather his thoughts.
Nathan’s spiritual quest was to demonstrate the love of the Great Spirit, Wakan Tanka, by serving others and the health and well-being of Mother Earth. He also stated he just wanted to be remembered for being, “a common ordinary man,” but to us who knew him he was a hearty, loving, and beautiful man.