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The Forgotten People

To all that are reading this…I have been planning on writing what is often called a “blog” for a long while, and this will be the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series. I don’t like the word blog, so we’ll just say Stick Speaks instead. If you don’t wish to receive these, just hit the unsubscribe tag, and you won’t see them anymore. I thank you in advance for your time.

Following my words here, you will see an email from my longtime compadre Martha Yordy. Martha is a keyboard player, a musical director for plays, and is one of the best musicians I’ve known in my career. We started working together at the Arvada Center in the early 1990’s, doing plays, and we always had a hoot. We’ve kept in touch over the years, and this letter follows a recent phone call from Martha. She read this to me over the phone, and it touched me deeply. I told her I wish I had written it, and I am glad she did write it. She was hoping to get it to Al Sharpton’s organization, as he’s very involved in the current BLM situation. She couldn’t reach him through email, so we’ll see if that happens. As I thought about it the last week, I decided I’d finally start my Stick Speaks series with her letter, as well as my own feelings about the Native American situation in the US. Martha and I feel the same about this. I’ll let her letter speak for itself. Here’s some of my thoughts.

I knew since I was a kid that I had an Indian great grandma; my mom mentioned her many times. Her name was Sabra, and she was Choctaw. The Choctaw lived in Mississippi, and were one of the tribes that walked the legendary Trail Of Tears, when Andrew Jackson (and the US govt) took their ancestral lands illegally. I only saw my grandpa once, when I was about 10. He came by our tenement to borrow some money; my mom slammed the door in his face, as she hated him. Before the door closed, I saw him, and thought “wowie, he’s Indian.” Which he was. She didn’t speak much of her dad, but I know he was a mean man, and treated his kids badly. Sabra was his mom of course, but I never knew much about my great grandpa, who’s last name was Penly (John Bell Penly), my mom’s maiden name. Throughout most of my life, I thought he may have been white…maybe he was. But, fast forward to a few years ago. My late cousin Ron, got in touch, and it turns out he was also very interested in his Indian background, and had done a great deal of research. It’s very difficult to get accurate info from tribes 150 years ago, but he did his best. My thoughts on this now are that John Penly was also Choctaw, making my grandpa a fullblood. It’s well known that the US govt forced the Choctaw to use white names for a while. And Ron told me he know of a Bell clan in the Choctaw. My grandpa’s death certificate also says Indian for race, so I’m going to go with that, unless new info appears. I also don’t know if my grandpa’s wife, Estelle, was Indian or white. So my mom was half tribal, possibly all. She never talked about that with me. I wish we had.

I know there is Choctaw DNA in my system. Perhaps that’s why I’ve grown up to be very interested, and deeply concerned, about what has happened to the 500 or so Indigenous tribal nations since 1492, when Columbus arrived in the Western Hemisphere. I read “Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee,” by Dee Brown, in 1976. I was enraged for months after. This book looks at the takeover, and colonization, of what is now called America, by the Europeans. It is a very difficult book to read. It is very well researched and annotated, and is essential reading for anyone that wishes to know how we got where we are today in relation to Indian issues. It’s actually really simple; this continent is Tribal land, all of it. There are over 400 treaties that the US govt has largely ignored, not enforced, or just blown off. Treaties are legally binding on a government; so America is basically breaking 400 of it’s own laws, to this day.

As far as racism, here’s a quote from “Book Of The Hopi,” the masterpiece by Frank Waters: “The deeply rooted racial prejudice of the Anglo-white Americans against the Red Indians, virtually a national psychosis, is one of the strangest and most terrifying phenomena in all history. It has no parallel throughout the Western Hemisphere.” What has happened to black folks, since they were brought here against their will as slaves, is a tragedy of untold proportions, and it’s about time that ends. What Martha is saying, and I agree with, is that the Indians need to be included in this process as well. They have had all of their ancestral lands taken, and have been forced to live on what we know as “reservations,” which can also be called concentration camps. Conditions on reservations are usually very bad. They are often very poor lands that the white people didn’t want, because they thought they were useless. Of course, later on when uranium, coal, and other resources were discovered on these lands, the story changed. That’s the subject of another article. Indians are, as Martha says, the forgotten people, overall. Most Americans know virtually nothing about them; most of their impressions of Indians were formed by Hollywood movies, which were rather biased towards the white man, to say the least.

But, they are a helluva resilient race of folks, and are still here, right now. I watch the FNX TV channel a lot (First Nations Experience), and around the country, many tribes are rediscovering their ancient traditions, and passing them onto their young people. This gives me great hope for the future. But, a lot more needs to be done. Namely, their cause needs to be as widely recognized as that of black people, and Americans need to realize that we indeed live on their lands; every one of us, black and white alike. We also need to realize that the racism against Indians is as bad, or worse, than towards blacks. They were thought of as subhuman by many whites through the years, and if you’re interested, there are many many books available on this subject. What to do? Well, we all do what we can. I am writing this to get things started for myself, and Martha. Feel free to forward this, or just Martha’s letter, to anyone you think might be interested. Will people ever march in protests in support of Indians, as they are doing now for black people? I would like to see that day happen, hopefully very soon. Just to get folks to be aware of the problem is a great start. The Hopi, and other tribes, have numerous prophecies. One of deep significance is referred to as the Great Purification. The Hopis (and others) speak of previous civilizations on this Earth that became very corrupted, and were destroyed by Creator to start over. The Hopi say this is the 4th world, and that there is the possibility that this world, too, may need to be cleansed as well. I personally believe that is not out of the question. I’ve also considered that the Covid pandemic may be the door opening towards this. I hope not. Perhaps if we realize our responsibility towards the original inhabitants of this continent, and take the proper action, things could change much for the better. I also include tribal people all over the world in this prayer, from the jungles of S. America to the Aborigines in Australia. Thnx for your time in reading this. Perhaps it can interest you in starting to think of what we are saying; maybe there’s a way to move forward in the race discussion, including the Indigenous people around the world as well…go safe and wise with Creator…N. Haverstick


My name is Martha Yordy, and I reside in Littleton CO. I grew up in Espanola NM as a white minority. My father was a doctor, and my mother an artist. When I was three years old, my parents adopted a newborn Navajo. We were good friends growing up, then during the teenage years we rebelled, and during our adult lives, we grew apart. In 2003 when our mother died we reconnected, and sadly he
died of acute alcoholism in 2005.

In these “dark night of the soul” times, we have been forced to review our relationships with humans of a different skin color. We have also had to review how we as white people have always felt superior to those humans. Speaking for myself, there have been many times in reviewing our history that I have to say I’m ashamed to be a member of the white race.

There is thankfully a new world on the horizon with (hopefully) true equality among whites and African Americans. This nation will accomplish unheard of things in all areas when this is achieved, and the fear on both sides will slowly turn to trust. I am grateful to be a part of this change in history.

However, we have forgotten a whole race of people that need acceptance, and compassion. White man hasn’t just mistreated them, he has killed, maimed, raped, and displaced the indigenous people of this country. We continue our cruel acts by ignoring them during this pandemic. Yes slavery is completely unjust,
but taking a whole population (if they survived) and transplanting them where we don’t have to deal with them is a continuing atrocity. We put them on land where there is no running water, or fertile soil, and we perceive of that as fair?!

It is my feeling that we need to make extreme reparations to our native Americans. Our speeches across this country need to include them.I would hope that the changes coming to our country will help them, but it looks to me that we are ashamed of our conduct, and trying to forget our injustices to them.

In closing, the new world needs to include us all. We need to ask these people what would fix what we’ve done to them. Whether it be monetary compensation, relocation, or both, we need to fix this in order to be on a true loving path that includes us all as equals.

Respectfully submitted,

Martha Yordy

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New CD Available: Radio Waves

Radio Waves

At long last…I’ve had this CD sitting around for over 3 years, and it went through numerous changes along the way. I honestly feel this collection of songs represents who I am as a musician better than any others I’ve done. A wide range of music indeed…quite a ride if you let it take you along. It’ll be available from my site at or if you’re in the Denver area, I’d be glad to meet up and get one to you. I’ll be having a CD release show at Swallow Hill on January 25th, playing a lot of the music from the CD, hope to see you there. Thnx for all the support over the years…much more to come…all bestest…Hstick

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Vote for Neil!

Hey folks,

I’m delighted to have been nominated in the 2019 Westword Music Showcase for the avant-garde category. Don’t know how this happened, but there I am. So… if you have a minute, I’d really appreciate your vote. Here’s the link:

The deadline for voting is 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, June 30th.

If you want to strike a blow for Microtonality, now’s your chance!

Thanks a zillion.


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Hopelessly Microtonal Reviewed in Exposé Magazine

Then, there’s a nice review of “Hopelessly Microtonal” in the new Exposé mag…they’ve been around a long time, and focus on the more extreme side of the music biz…which I guess means me, ha, woulda never guessed. He described what I did in the book very well. Nice to get some press, artists gotta have it. I’m always grateful when people are interested in what I do; having this and the Now&Xen podcast come out at the same time is good timing.

Hopelessly Microtonal featured in Expose Magazine

Okie, all bestest from Englewood…till next time…Hstick

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Now&Xen Podcast

Neil on the Now&Xen podcast

Hey all… I did a nice Skype interview for the Now&Xen program. A couple of my micro colleagues have started this show, this is just the kind of thing we need. Informal, wide ranging, and lotsa fun. Yup, an hour plus, so if you are stuck in the casa from this “bomb cyclone,” you know what to do.

Check out the podcast:

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Hopelessly Microtonal Featured in Westword

Hopelessly Microtonal Featured in Westword

Hey all…Jon Solomon did a great job capturing the essence of our phone conversation, and the ideas we discussed are well presented. This is not an ez topic to write about, but it sounds like the way I actually talk…God help us, ha…hope you can check it out…Hstick

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Upcoming Events

Hey all…a few things coming up…

  • Tuesday January 8th, I’m on the KGNU Kabaret show, 7-8 Denver time…we’ll be talking about my new book “Hopelessly Microtonal,” and I’ll be playing several different instruments. Dan Willging, aka Big Daddy, is the emcee…we go way back, and he’s a great host…hope you can tune in…then…
  • January 29th I’m at Dazzle with the Bill Hill Quintet, a remarkable band. Bill is a great percussionist/composer, and he keeps us all on our musical toes…early show, so old folks can be tucked in at a decent hour (me included)…
  • February 10th, the Quintet is at Rockley’s Music on W. Colfax…another early show, we’ll also be doing a workshop with area students beforehand, which will be a lotta fun…
  • And sometime in May (most likely) we’ll be doing our annual benefit for the Evergreen Chamber Orchestra, for which Bill is the musical director. I’ll be posting more updates as they come in…hope to see you folks at some of these…


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Hey all…this email means a lot to me…my friend Matt Ostrowski has not only helped me finish my new book, “Hopelessly Microtonal,” but he’s totally redone my website, adding many new features, including the ability to sell my books and CD’s directly from the site, anywhere in the world. It also looks much more professional now as well, plz take a look. He’s also made it possible to email everybody on my list with one little click, so now I don’t have to type everybody’s name in one at a time anymore…yippee. Computer expertise is not part of what I do, so many thnx to Matt. He creates websites for a living, and you won’t find anyone better or more professional…he’s at

Hopelessly Microtonal
Hopelessly Microtonal

I’m taking this opportunity to once more let people know about the book, which is about my unique instrument collection. I have guitars in tuning systems of 12, 19, 22, 24, 31, 34, and 36 notes to the octave, as well fretless guitars and banjo, Ouds, and a Turkish Saz. There are pics of all the instruments; a brief history of what tuning is all about; neck graphs that illustrate the spacing of the frets in the different systems so you can see how they compare; information on the guitar companies, and the luthiers that do my work; and many musical anecdotes from my career, including a story of how I met legendary studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco in 1982, and the impact he had on my life. I think it’s a fun book, as well as educational. It came out really well, now on to the next project or three.

I also want to let you know of some great shows coming up in 2019…

December 31…(ok, 2018) I’ll be zookeeper for a Swallow Hill Instrument Petting Zoo at the Children’s Museum, from 9-4. It’s called Noon Years Eve, and I bring a bunch of different instruments for kids to play/bang on (adults too). I’ve done a lot of these the last couple of years, and they’re a lotta fun…come on down and see.

January 8…I’ll be live on KGNU’s Kabaret show, from 7-8 PM, talking about the book and playing a number of different instruments. I’ve been on here numerous times in the past; they do a superb job with the sound, and I’ll get a CD quality recording of the show…hope you can tune in.

January 29…I’ll be with the Bill Hill Quintet at Dazzle, early show, probably 6:30. Bill is the long time timpanist with the Colorado Symphony, which is where we met years ago. He’s also a helluva drummer/percussionist, and a great composer. His new CD “The Raven” is his 4th Symphony, and is based off of the E.A.Poe poem. It’s a masterpiece, check it out. Bill writes some challenging charts for the Quintet, and it’s a remarkable band indeed…we’ve sold Dazzle out the last couple of times, a great room.

February 10th… at Rockley’s Music, on West Colfax, again with Bill, another early show (great for certain old folks). We’ll also be doing an improvisation clinic with some high school students before the show. Everybody in the band has been teaching for years, so this is a natural for us. It’s a nice sounding hall, and Rockley’s is a longtime Colorado institution.

I’m also going to start writing a blog…I’ve actually done more writing the last few years than composing, and I plan to continue that. But, I do have a new CD that’s been sitting here for a couple of years, and plan on putting that out soon (“Radio Waves”). A sci fi memoir is in the works…I’ve had a rather interesting and unusual life this time around, and am already sketching it out…you’ll be the first to know. At 67, one tends to look back a bit, and it’s been quite a ride…it still is. I wish to thank all the people that have supported my artistic vision over the years…more to come I assure you…all best in 2019 and beyond…Hstick