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Chief Wana Dubie

Chief Wana Dubie

I’ve never met Chief Wana Dubie, born Joseph Bickell, but I appreciate his type. The chief first caught my attention in a feature story in the Linn Unterrified Democrat in the 1990s, when he seceded from the United States and declared his property to be a reservation of the Santimaw Indian tribe, which no one had ever heard of. As you can guess from his adopted name, he is a marijuana legalization activist who served five years at Algoa for his stance, having been busted after his secession for growing 135 plants in his front yard.

The Ozarks have long been home to outcasts and eccentrics of every variety, and that’s part of what makes it such an interesting place. Wana Dubie has even had a movie made about his “war” with the Establishment, and has run for office several times, including president in 1992, Missouri House of Representatives in 2006 (receiving 556 votes, for 3rd place), and currently U.S. Senate. With a name like his, you can understand why he is playing up the “Dubie vs. Blunt” aspect of this year’s campaign. The chief maintains a Facebook page where he reports that he recently smoked his first legal marijuana, on Pike’s Peak in Colorado. The experience was not completely satisfactory; as he writes, “Pot may be legal in Colorado, but there are no hippies. It’s business as usual at the marijuana shops, big business. They were quite busy with people from all walks of life. Old people, white people, rich people and others. But you didn’t see any hippies like me. I saw only one tie dye shirt the whole time I was there!”

Odd characters may seem like the weeds in our tidy garden of life, but as Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote, “What would the world be, once bereft / of wet and of wildness? Let them be left, / O let them be left, wildness and wet; / Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.”

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