“I remember the horn necklace placed around my neck by a woman visiting with me at the time. She said, … never forget. That’s what I remember. I was a very small child then, but all through my life, I never did forget. My name bears that conviction.
“I would learn early in life that being Indian was never an intellectual choice. No matter where I found myself, or where I lived, I was Indian. No one could have taken that away. It was my heart. The men and women in black robes couldn’t take it away from me; neither could the public school systems of America. It couldn’t be ridiculed or humiliated out of me by those I felt ashamed of and those ashamed of me. It couldn’t be beaten out of me. Even now, it can’t be blood quantumed out of me. I am Indigenous to my death. As La Donna Harris once said, Blood runs the heart; the heart knows what it is.
“Years after the gift of the horn necklace, I would find my traditional uncles, Metacomet and Nippawanock. They would present me another necklace. This one consisted of Persian turquoise, beads of Indian wampum and beads of glass from Europe, deer antlers and bone from America, and a steel wire that strung everything together. As they placed the necklace they had made for me over my head so that it draped across my chest, they said, ‘Like you, dissimilar things had been fitted together to create something beautiful and whole.’”
His legal name is Gabriel Horn. His Native American name in English is White Deer of Autumn. He has authored books for children and adults using both names.
Gabriel Horn, White Deer of Autumn, is a member of the family of Princess Red Wing, Metacomet, and Nippawanock of the Narragansett Tribe/Wampanoag Nation. He is an award-winning writer and teacher. He is also a nationally recognized lecturer on writing and on Native American philosophy and its intricate connection to the rights of traditional indigenous peoples, animals, and the welfare of the natural environment.
As a student at the University of South Florida (USF), Gabriel Horn organized a student petition in 1969 for the first Native American literature course in the university’s language arts program and was successful. That same year he had organized a rally in support of the Indian take-over of Alcatraz Island. Shortly after, he challenged the First Model United Nations held at USF to include a seat in the UN for Native Americans. In 1971, he directed a protest against the Seminole Bank of Tampa for its use of derogatory Indian images of the billboard caricature, Savvy Seminole, for commercial exploitation, and he won. His uncles had referred to that battle as his first coup. In the early spring of 1973, he had earned a B. A. in Language Arts at USF. Twenty years later at forty-four, he would achieve an M.A. in Writing and Native American Studies from Vermont College of Norwich University.
Earlier in his professional career (1973), he taught at Wyoming Indian High School on the Wind River Reservation, and a year later, Gabriel Horn became one of the original teachers who helped establish The Heart of the Earth American Indian Movement (AIM Survival School located in a Minneapolis housing project. In 1976, Gabe Horn served as the Head Teacher at the AIM Survival School, The Red School House, in St. Paul, MN.
Returning to Florida in 1978, he attended graduate school at USF while working as an intern for the Florida Governor’s Council on Indian Affairs. In 1979, the Pinellas County Arts Council employed Gabriel Horn as Writer-in-the-Schools. In 1981, once again back in Minnesota, Horn would become the Cultural Arts Director of the Minneapolis American Indian Center where he helped establish the Minneapolis American Indian Art Gallery and the Living Traditions Museum. During this time, Horn would also assist in the struggle to gain religious expression for Native American inmates at Stillwater State Prison. He was the first man to carry a sacred pipe into the isolation unit of the prison called “the Hole,” so that the Native men could pray. That year he became a finalist for Minnesota's Human Rights Award.
In St. Petersburg, in 1993, the American Indian Issues and Action Committee honored him for his courage and contributions. Selected Who's Who Among America's Teachers four times (a rare achievement), Gabriel Horn was also presented with the Florida Space Coast Writers Guild's Award for 1996 as Distinguished Educator, Author, and Master Children's Writer.
His published works span across four decades, beginning in 1973 with A Chant to Lure Honor, which was the concluding selection for the college text and anthology, Literature of the American Indian. In 1981, Carnival Press (then Raintree) published his first children’s book, Ceremony – in the Circle of Life, later purchased in 1993 by Beyond Words Publishing. Ceremony - in the Circle of Life was selected as a Notable Children’s Trade by the National Council of Social Studies Teachers. As White Deer of Autumn, he also authored The Great Change, (a featured book at the Multicultural Children’s Book Festival in Washington DC), and Native People/Native Ways, a four book series for readers from middle school and up, surveying the history, achievements, and world views of Native Americans (now translated into Italian). He is the editor and the author of the “Editor's Note” in the Harvey Arden and Steve Wall national best seller, Wisdomkeepers - Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders, and is a featured writer in another Beyond Words’ publication, The American Eagle, selected by former President George Bush Sr. as a Presidential Gift-of-State, who presented the book to the Queen of England. He is also a contributing writer in A Circle of Nations – Voices and Visions of Native America. His work has appeared in Native People’s magazine and other national and international publications, and was included in a Beyond Words anthology, Our Kinship With the Animals, featuring one of Gabriel’s heroes, world-renowned scientist, Jane Goodall. He has authored other books for children about endangered and extinct animals: The Crane, Crestwood House; and Gone Forever: Stellar’s Sea Cow, MacMillan.
Two of his three critically acclaimed books for adults, the first, an autobiographical novel published by New World Library, Native Heart, reprinted by Paraview Special Editions, and the second, Contemplations of a Primal Mind, reprinted by the University Press of Florida, have been used in secondary and college and university curriculum. Excerpts of Native Heart appear now in college texts on writing and for Western Humanities.
The Book of Ceremonies, also published by New World Library in 2000, was reprinted in paperback in 2004. It has been available for purchase at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.
Recently retired from teaching writing and literature at St. Petersburg College, Gabriel Horn has also instructed young journalists for the Poynter Institute for Media Studies. At other times he has served as a wisdomkeeper for The Wisdomkeepers Program in North Carolina, where, in addition, he had co-founded and co-directed the first Native American Writers Camp for children on the Cherokee reservation. He has been a special guest on various local television programs, National Public Radio, MSNBC’s Time & Again, and Wolf Mountain Radio for Peace International.
In 2002, Gabriel Horn received the University of South Florida’s Distinguished Alumni Award (at the St. Petersburg Campus) for Outstanding Professional Achievement. In the spring of 2003, his essay, “Genocide of a Generation’s Identity,” was published in an anthology of Native American writers, Genocide of the Mind, which includes another of Gabe’s heroes, the late Native American scholar and author, Vine Deloria Jr.
In the fall of 2004, Horn gave a performative reading at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts where his children’s book, The Great Change, was honored.
Gabriel Horn and Amy Krout-Horn’s latest work of fiction, published by All Things That Matter Press (2009), is the highly praised novella, Transcendence.
“I feel that if you look at this brief reflection of my life, you can see I have tried to walk the talk. I have lived as best as I can in accordance with my vision, and that vision connected me to words. I have prayed on the pipe with the people; I have been a teacher of the people. And most of all, I have written from deep appreciation and respect for what I have learned about what it means to be Indian, what it means to be a human being, and that strong sense of responsibility to keep those ideas and perspectives alive in this world. And though I myself come from mixed blood and ancestry, I was never led to feel anything but whole among those who have loved me.”
Metacomet and Nippawanock had written of Gabriel, saying; “We are proud of our nephew, for it is in blood as strong as his, that the words of the people ring on the land.”
For over 40 years, Gabriel Horn has been an activist, a teacher, and a writer, and he has helped raise and influence the lives of his three children. Under his tutelage, many of his students have gone on to become educators, lawyers, and contributors to the welfare of humanity and the world. They have gone on to become better fathers and mothers. They became better people. His writings now span generations and will, no doubt, be read and discussed for years to come.