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Bad Eagle Journal

2007 Bad Eagle Restitutions

by David Yeagley · January 1, 2007 · 22 Comments ·

My name is David Anthony Yeagley. I am the son of Norma Portillo Yeagley and Ned Carleton Yeagley. Norma Portillo Yeagley was the daughter of George (Anacleto) Portillo, who was the son of Ignacio Portillo, who was the son of Cruz Portillo. Cruz Portillo was the adopted Spanish name of none other than quin-ne kish-su-it, or Bad Eagle. Bad Eagle was the son of Bad Eagle and Chawabitty. This is exactly what the records show, including birth certificates and Comanche rolls. Some of these records are in English, some are in Spanish. Bad Eagle, my great-great grandfather, also was called Ka-dose, and Tu-vi-ai.

David A. Yeagley, direct descendent of Bad Eagle. And don’t mess with the old
man in the kitchen, unless you want dill in your spaghetti.

Bad Eagle, as a young brave, was captured when on a raid. The Spanish (Mexican) army took him to a place called El Conejo (The Rabbit), apparently somewhere in Coahuila, Mexico. It was a military establishment. (My grandfather George was born there. He remembered the huge jack rabbits there. He also remembered the enormous iron gates of the estates.) Bad Eagle was legally adopted by a Captain Portillo, and given the name Cruz Portillo. Cruz Portillo’s two sons had a godfather names Don Antonio de Ponce de Leon. We have all this in 19th century letters and records.

Bad Eagle returned to his Comanche people at some undetermined point. Clifford Seymour (“Tree-top”), a deceased Comanche elder, told me that Bad Eagle’s people were Ishatai (Eshiti) and Mumsekai (Mumsakawa). This is a tough hand to be dealt. Mumsekai brought peyote into Comanche circles in the early 1900’s. Ishatai, of course, was the last of the “medicine” men among the Comanche. His medicine didn’t work. It got everyone shot up, including himself, at Adobe Walls. Bad Eagle (Tu-vi-ai) later turned the last of the free Comanches over to the government. That would be Col. R. Mackenzie, at Palo Duro. This is my ancestry. People wonder why I’m not chairman of the tribe!

Be that all as it may, I would like to take this New Year’s opportunity to declare what I am not.

I am not Jewish. I could pass for Jewish. There is afamily in Hamden, CT whom I love dearly. I shared sabbath dinners with them, attended Beth Shalom synagogue with them (as well as B’nai Jacob in Woodbridge), and was with them in many family matters. When introducing me to their friends, they always said, “This is David. We adopted him!” The fact is, twice the parents of this family literally saved my life. Once, from food poisoning, and again during a chemotherapy problem I was having. I owe this family my life. This is the family of Joseph Croog, who had three sons, Ralph’s family being the one that adopted me. Joseph and his Ralph are both deceased. I might add, my own father had his three sons circumcised when they were born. He never told us why.

Do I try to sell myself as a Jewish person? No. I love Jewish people. Would I try to take advantage of them in any way? No. Would I insult them. No. I am not surprised or discouraged that my Holocaust opera, Jacek, has never been produced. Jack Eisner, the holocuast survivor whom I knew personally, and whom the opera is about, certainly knew I was Indian, and not Jewish. But Jewish people are too dear to me to trespass. Perhaps it was a strange error to have written that opera. I don’t know. All I know is, I love Jewish people. But that simply does not make me Jewish.

I could pass for Italian. They made me like one of them. When I first went east for my education, I was a shy person. I froze up, easily. I was not very social. In Connecticut (where I attended Yale), there are many Italian people. I played soccer with them, and hung around the Pietro Amica club (Allentown). I dated Italian girls. In a short time, I picked up a bit of Italian lingo. Italians had a hold on the street, so to speak. They were amazingly earthly and real. I had been an intellectual, artist type, and very aloof from people. The Italians cured me of that misanthropy. I shall ever hold them dear to my heart for that. (My mother once said they ruined me!) I felt confident of speech and human relations. I felt like I belonged. That’s the only way I can say it. The Italians, they were the world. With them, I felt part of it. Johnny Armellino, one of my favorite friends, owns the famous restaurant in Mildford, CT, Armellino’s.

John Armellino, second from the left, with Bianca, his wife, next to him.

Do I try to pretend I am an Italian? No. I love Italian people. I would never insult them in this way. I’ll go to Denver Colorado and defend their Columbus Parade, but, that doesn’t make me Italian. I used to ‘advocate’ for the immigrant Neopolitans I hung out with. That didn’t make me Italian. Marrying an Italian girl wouldn’t make me Italian. Having a half-Italian son wouldn’t make me Italian. Writing Italian art songs (one of my musical specialties) doesn’t make me Italian. (Dan Asia, my composition teacher at University of Arizona, said, “What’s a nice Jewish boy doing writing dramatic Italian songs? Only I can’t say that. You’re Indian! Makes as much sense…) And using dill in my spaghetti sauce certainly proves I’m not Italian. Alto belle!

I could pass for Persian, (only I don’t know anything about Farsi, the language). I’ve been to Iran. I love Iranian people. Yes, yes, they’ve a bit of a problem with Islam, but, we all pray this will pass. The Muslimists in charge in Tehran are far, far from the people. The people are among the most lovable people in the world. They are also the most handsome and beautiful. And they love America! Anyone who’s been anywhere near Iran knows this. I play soccer regularly with Iranians here in Oklahoma. They’ve been here for 30 years or more. They have children here. They are all citizens. I know families. The Alavi family is the last family to “adopt” me. Fred Alavi knew my mother. I taught piano lessons to his genius son, Matin. The grandfather, Bob, and his wife, helped prepare me for my trip to Iran. And I am still on the editorial board of Persian Heritage Magazine. Dr. Shahrohk Ahkami, the editor, is a physician, and positively one of the most brilliant men I have ever known. When Persians are brilliant, I don’t think it is possible to be more brilliant. I have been privileged to be associated with this magazine, and I have published many pieces in it.

Farah Pahlavi, for whom I wrote the collection of epic poetry, Jahan di-deh.

Do I try to pass myself off as a Persian? Do I try to sell my work as an Iranian artist or writer? Heavens no! I love Persian people. I love the Iranians, the modern descendents. Why would I insult them in this way? One never insults what he loves. One never disrespects those he holds dear. Granted, I have given public papers at the Iranian Studies Conference in Bethesda, MD, in 2000 and in 2002. But, I wasn’t there as an Iranian, but as a scholar. There were a few others who were not Iranian, but who contributed to special fields within Iranian studies. I never pretended to be Iranian. I would never do such a thing.

My point in all this? To love a people and their culture, to even participate in it, intimately, does not make you one of them. You are or you aren’t. You cannot be what you love. Loving what you love doesn’t make you be what it is you love. You can only love what you love. You are still you.

I would never lie. I would never lie about being something I wasn’t, in order to gain some professional advantage, or to procure social success. How can you insult what you love? How can you injure that which you hold precious?

I’ll mention my Barcelonan friend, Joe Fontela. The Spanish phenomenon I haven’t even touched, though it remains one of the grandest effects in world history. The effect that Mexicans have had on me, personally, is a story I’ve yet to tell. Joe also played soccer with Italians. In fact, that’s where I met Joe, on the soccer field. (Of course, he was a real professional. I’m only a weak amateur, but, I was allowed to hang out with some fine players. Gigi Garafano, the leader of the Neopolitan group, once said to me, “Dave, you’re lucky to play with us!” He was quite right.)

I love the people of the world, quite passionately, actually. But, that doesn’t change who or what I am. You know, I wish loving something really did make you become the same thing. Then I wouldn’t hesitate to call myself Christian.

Posted by David Yeagley · January 1, 2007 · 12:55 pm CT · ·

Tags: Bad Eagle Journal

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22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 comanchemoon // Jan 1, 2007 at 1:29 pm   


    I’m glad to meet you, I just knew you had grey hair at your temples.

    Farah is a beautiful lady, almost as beautiful as you mother.

    You were a cute boy now you are a handsome man. I would vote for you for Chairman, you must know that! You have scruples that we have NEVER, NEVER had in ANY of our Leaders thus far, EXCEPT for Keith Yackeyonny. He’s my boy!.

    You are a Man on a mission, I’m proud that you are Comanche.


  • 2 David Yeagley // Jan 1, 2007 at 1:40 pm   

    If there’s any real arrogance in me–it’s my presumption that Comanche people are not offended by me. I know some are. There is generational animosity. Yet, there are very elderly people down there I’ve met who remember George Portillo with great esteem. There are people who remember how beautiful my mother and all here sisters were. They’ve told me.

    But, for the most part, people seem to have forgotten or outlived the Portillo family. So, here I am. Think I should have kept quiet?

    Nah. I owe it to Bad Eagle. It is his name I have sought to revive. He deserves it. His is a grand story. Why can’t I tell it? Why shouldn’t I.

    CM, I’m no leader, just a commenter. We’ve got real leaders. Talented leaders. I disgree with some of their ideas, here and there. Sometimes it’s very serious disagreement. But, they have the talent and experience in leadership. It’s all about business. That’s something I know nothing, absolutely nothing about. I know only about values.

  • 3 solstice // Jan 1, 2007 at 2:37 pm   

    Nice bio – A handsome man – love the gray. We actually have similar looks, except i have the brown hair – thick and straight goin with a huge gray streak in the front and stronger cheek bones. I appreciate you setting me straight on the Bad Eagle name – New to your site I am –
    I have read your C.V. as well, I appreciate a man or woman with above average knowledge and insight into the human race and our ‘maya’ [illusion/skewed reality] of our past and present.
    Happy 2007 AD – [Gregorian Calendar]

  • 4 David Yeagley // Jan 1, 2007 at 2:59 pm   

    I think my real name should have been “haggard crow.”

    The point of this NewYear’s journal entry was really to address questions I know people. They see me all concerned about Rudy Yo Blood, Ward Churchill, and fake Indian identity, and yet they have serious questions about me.

    I’m afraid I have to admit, my life has been an eccentric one. But, there’s nothing fake about it. It’s just a little different.

    There were (and still are) some angry Indian men, angry that I’m Indian. They don’t think I’ve lived an Indian life. I’m sure their hatred is intense enough that they consider Rudy to be Indian, rather than me!

    Sometimes, I attract the very worst feelings in people. It’s there. I know it.

    In a way, I’m talking medicine here. Indian way. Po-ha-cut, the Comanche way. Bad Eagle, may have some scores to settle that I don’t know anything about. I don’t know.

  • 5 Beakerkin // Jan 1, 2007 at 4:35 pm   


    You could not pass for Jewish or Italian in my area. In fact it takes more than looks to pass for an ethnicity in NYC. In NYC I appear Jewish but my elocution and mannerisms appear Italian. However, when I am amongst Italians they scratch their heads and say he don’t look like one of us buts he sounds like one.

    The reason is quite simple I grew up in an Italian section of Staten Island and Bensonhurst Brooklyn. The areas contained plenty of Jews as well. Apparently the mannerisms of my neighbors rubbed off.

    When I went into the fashion industry my boss would swear I was a funny looking Siciliano. I grew up with Italians and worked in their world for many years.

    When I came to the frozen North I was greated by a clown in personel wondering if I was a former hit man. I tried to explain this is a regional accent and I am an educated person who hasn’t wacked a thing. On my travels to the frozen North in Colebrook NH people kept mistaking me for Italian. Apparently Jews do not get up there often and my accent means afiliation with organized crime.

    Far and away the worst episode came when a University bimbette from UVM accused me of using a fake NY accent.Her logic was I was trying to impress the locals and my accent was the worst fake NYC accent she ever heard. Drama majors are just quite empty headed by nature.

  • 6 Mario // Jan 1, 2007 at 5:24 pm   

    Hey Doctor. you got that mean look on that picture of you. Just trade the threads you had on for prison colors and you would fit in the line up. 😛

    Your mini-autobiography is interesting but I ask is this as a result from the naysayers who attacked your lineage due to your relentess pursuit of the truth in the Rudy Youngblood fiasco?

    Not complaining just wondering, nice article by the way. Keep up the work Doctor

  • 7 concha // Jan 1, 2007 at 5:46 pm   

    David Yeagley,
    You are a very handsome, dignified man of letters, and I wish only the best for you in the coming year.
    I also wish that every man, woman, child, and animal feels loved and appreciated, for the rest of our lives–starting this new year!

    Let’s make it the best year ever!

  • 8 Respects Nothing // Jan 1, 2007 at 6:47 pm   

    Great AutoBio piece Doc. My children are 1/4 Persian (on their father’s side). Their paternal grandmother immigrated from Iran. She’s very Persian and very beautiful and elegant. She has style, moreso than I do. My eldest son has those Persian eyes. My Navajo friends always called him “nahii (pronounced na-hee),” which means big eyes. I swear his eyes were bigger than his head!! And they’re these beautiful light brown eyes, not dark like my own. I don’t know what it is about his eyes, but whenever I’ve met other Persians at CU cultural events, he fits right in. He looks more Persian than Apache. All the Persian girls fell in love with him and his sister and immersed them in Persian culture that night!! My daughter looks very Persian when she’s near her grandmother and her cousins, but when she’s around me and my family, she looks more Apache, that’s what my friends tell me anyway. It must be her big cheeks. She has those big Indian cheeks w/the high cheeks bones and the long Apache nose. Her mouth is very delicate, like her paternal grandmother’s. Her eyes are, however, darker brown than my own.

    I’m sorry to say you don’t have those same eyes, but very, lovely eyes nonetheless. Yours are more almond shaped like my own.

    Hope you New Year is everything you want it to be, but like everyone else, we won’t know until this time next year.

  • 9 Tamara // Jan 1, 2007 at 8:33 pm   

    Beakerkin, I have to disagree with you re: the Doc’s looks. Put him in a nice Zegna suit, and he could definitely pass for Italian.

    Dottore, somehow it doesn’t surprise me that someone who loves both Jewish and Italian culture should put dill in his pasta. . .

  • 10 Patricia // Jan 1, 2007 at 8:47 pm   

    David, that was a really engaging read. I’ve been thinking about you today and I came across an old newspaper clipping from 1984. I kept it this long. I was 19 years old and Pope John Paul came to Toronto. I still have my “I Was There” T-Shirt. He came to a small airport near my parents house, DeHavilland Airport. They cleared this space for his visit. I can remember the hush that came over the million or so crowd that turned out to see him, the hush when he appeared and began his dialogue. I fell in love with the Pope that day. He exuded a warmth and true love which was beyond anything I had ever imagined, and he was quite literally in my backyard. This clipping, or rather news photo, which I’m trying unsuccessfully to load as an attachment to you in an email is of another adjunct stop he made on that tour. He went to Ste. Marie Among the Hurons and delivered a service at the Martyr’s Shrine Church in Midland, Ontario. There is a little girl who is looking into his eyes, she is clearly Huron-Wendat descent. She is looking so lovingly into his eyes and he has his hands on her cheeks. I was thinking about you when I dusted this off. Now let me try this again…

  • 11 David Yeagley // Jan 1, 2007 at 9:11 pm   

    Dill is wonderful!!

    I think part of my experience has to do with coincidence of circumstance. I grew up around lily white kids. When I went back east, to New Haven, I more or less immediately started associating with Italians. I think it was because many of them were darker, with dark hair and eyes. I naturally catered to them. It was a new experience.

    Actually, I first hit the Greeks. But, you had to be a member of their church before you could play on their soccer team! I really didn’t get to know Greek people like I wanted to.

    I’ll say this, the girl that impressed me the most, during all those years I spent in Connecticut, was a Greek import. Just a waitress in a diner. Most unbelievable thing I ever saw. I was quite foolish about it. My friends tried to help. I found out she didn’t want to get involved with me. She didn’t know English very well.

    Later, she died of cancer. Heart-breaking to know. Youngest daughter of four sisters, I think. Her father owned the diner. It was called the Athenian Diner, out on the northern end of Dixwell Avenue, if I remember right.

    Her name was Lisa, in English anyway.

    Now, she had raven black hair, and onyx eyes. But her skin was white as marble. Very strange, strangely beautiful.

    I look at it like this. It was exploration. I was pretty young, and in a cultural discovery mode. People back there had no idea what an Indian was. So many foreigners there. I didn’t bother to get into explaining it. Not until in the ’80’s. I started educating folks. I had an art show, “Bad Eagle and his Descendents.” I showed it several places back east. It was actually shown first here in Oklahoma, in Anadarko.

  • 12 RoseLadyPDX // Jan 1, 2007 at 10:14 pm   

    Enough with the dill!

    Seriously, mi cugino, this was an excellent essay and a fine tribute to those individuals who have enriched your life, partly by the way they embraced their respective heritages.

    You honor those of us who share those heritages by your kind and loving words toward your friends.

  • 13 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm   

    My God, what sort of creature is sitting a top the frig with it’s skinny legs overhanging.

    Now, that is what I would cook using a ton of dill!

  • 14 "Greetings, my son!" // Jan 1, 2007 at 11:39 pm   

    My God, what sort of creature is sitting a top the frig with it’s skinny legs overhanging.

    Now, that is what I would cook using a ton of dill!

  • 15 Nadine // Jan 2, 2007 at 12:37 am   

    My wish for you, New Year’s or not, is to be at p-e-a-c-e, David, be at peace. It’s within you. Stop thinking, just feel. And maybe whatever it is you’re looking for has been there all along, yourself.

    Peace, Nadine

  • 16 Bill Cork // Jan 2, 2007 at 10:36 am   

    “You know, I wish loving something really did make you become the same thing. Then I wouldn’t hesitate to call myself Christian.”

    Hi David. Could you explain this part a little more?



  • 17 David Yeagley // Jan 2, 2007 at 11:00 am   

    If loving something makes you like it, or part of it, then I should be a perfect Christian. I love the Bible. I love Jesus. I really mean it. But, this does not change my nature, as far as I can tell.

    This was a crazy way of illustrating the point that, loving a people and their culture does not make you one of them, by blood. This was all with respect to the Rudy Yo Blood issue, you know, claiming to BE Indian, when really it’s just a case of a kid loving Indian culture.

    He got the movie part by claiming the blood. I think this was very wrong.

    This journal entry was just my way of saying that loving something doesn’t make you the same thing. I love Jews, but that doesn’t make me Jewish. I love Italians, but I’m not Italian. I love Persians, but I am not Persian.

    I love Jesus, but, I am not Christian. Christian means Christ-like. I ain’t. Age has not made me better, either. It’s just made me a bit more tired.

    Actually, the scope of things is grander. The war is broader. The stakes are higher.

  • 18 KuhnKat // Jan 2, 2007 at 11:38 am   

    Dr. Yeagley,

    you say that loving something does not make you the thing that you love and I agree. You then say that loving Christ and Christians does not make you a Christian, and, again I agree.

    Your comment that you have to be Christ like to be a Christian I do NOT agree with.

    Being Christ like is the GOAL. If it was necessary to be Christ like to be Christian then few of us would be. We are ALL sinners and need to work on becoming more Christ like. To be Christian is to accept the Son as your savior through the fact that he gave his BLOOD to save us. It also is to work at becoming more like him and to follow his teachings as best we can. Of course, to follow his teachings we must study them to know them.

    Finally, the only BLOOD involved in Christianity is that shed by him to save us, although there are many Christians who will be tortured and die beofre renouncing their faith for Emperors, Communists, Dictators, Muslims, and other whack jobs.

    Blood LINE has nothing to do with Christianity.

    I think you know this but got caught up in trying to get your idea across. Just wanted to clarify it for others out here.

  • 19 David Yeagley // Jan 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm   

    Seems I’ve been caught in a lot of traps lately. My own mostly, whenever I open my mouth.

    I am fascinated with that which I am not. Worse, I am fascinated with making the distinction.

    Hey. Life is fascinating!

  • 20 boogernose // Jan 2, 2007 at 9:28 pm   

    Come on Yeag-O. You are not Numa at all. You are Osama Bin Ladin clean-shaven. Just kidding!

  • 21 David Yeagley // Jan 2, 2007 at 9:38 pm   

    Just don’t make fun of my nose.

  • 22 Nadine // Jan 3, 2007 at 1:04 am   

    Lol, finally sat down to take a good look at your face, which is very handsome, no lie ~ strong chin, beautiful lips that look just like my mom’s, strong Roman shaped nose (also just like my mom’s), and deeply intense eyes set off by a raven’s brow. Still, why such a foreboding expression; hard to look at, as it seems you can see through the ‘puter world? It makes me want to run from you; scarey! (8^O Funny, a smile totally & completely transforms your face from dark & foreboding to a happy-go-lucky totally charming one. Seriously, as I’ve told you before, you have *smiley eyes*, as well as a smiley mouth. You should use it more. JMHO.

    Peace, Nadine

    P.S. Btw, I knew all along this article was about truth & honesty, as opposed to Rudy. Still, you left out the matter of your truthful age, Doc, nothing to be ashamed of.

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