My name is Brian Melendez, I am a Northern/Southern Paiute – Western Shoshone: Community Leader, American Indian Spirituality Scholar, and practitioner of Great Basin custom(s) and culture(s), and the owner and operator of Lucentree, LLC. Like the classic OG’s before me; I’ve been many of things for lots of people—a leader, teacher, student, and innovator (for many I’m just Bri Bri, BB, or Depi Nana). Either way…I am not perfect and never pretend to be. Many, many, many, mistakes were made along the way.
I don’t know about you, but I am humbled daily and proud of my modest origins. This right here, is a brief public service announcement, so please consider yourself warned. If I had to define my nature, I’d say I’m a pragmatic-realist-minimalist in all aspects of my life. I’m not here to pander and slang culture or ceremony to anybody, so for those easily agitated Indian brothers and sister (you know who I’m talking about) who like to lose their shit before they know what’s-what: that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not attempting to disclosing intricate tribal-secrets—but rather examine the basis of human-spirituality and community—that exists in all of us. I believe it has never been more critical to develop extensive circles of global community building, and to do this by collecting endless allies (tribal and non-tribal) for the cause, for the betterment of the world.
Like countless others, I have held different beliefs and attitudes (contrary) to where I am today. But feel confident that I am getting closer to my true path everyday. The more I let go of what I don’t need anymore, and believe in my own path and dreams, the better I am. That is why I’ve taken on this initiative to work with all people of the world. I’ve been genuinely praying for sometime: let the people that need to find us, find us—and the people who don’t need to find us, don’t ever let them ever find us. A cumulative prayer for my overall community and Starvillage Family.
I write, speak, and teach about collective human-spiritual energy and community, from an indigenous perspective, that’s my shit. I do the best I can to keep things simple and true (for me). I’ve learned to never limit anyone while on his or her respective journey (who knows what the Spirit wants for each of us). I’m not a “right-way-wrong-way” kind of cat, that’s not my style, nor have I been known to say winged-one’s, four-legged’s, etc. no offense or disrespect to anyone, I’m just not that kind of Indian bruh. My style, is to encourage people to find their own way, that’s what I’m about. My words are fueled by circumspection, pragmatism, humor, lots of coffee, and gangster shit. I’m not holy—more like, a cussing-praying-Indian-pirate—and we don’t have time to avoid real talk anymore, especially for tribal people we got a lot of work to do.
Your personal threshold for pain, flexibility, logic, and reason is your own responsibility, I’m just trying to be helpful, I truly am. Just so you know, I don’t use kid gloves with my children and I most definitely won’t with other adults. My writing, speaking, and teaching styles, will most likely offend at some point; and likewise, inspire those needing to be inspired. Being destructive is not my objective, in fact, just the opposite. I’m a problem solver (like Winston Wolf) who’s great at finding potential and opportunity for growth. My personal belief for as long as I can remember has been to question everything (or at the very least, testing unconventional theories) with the intent of being constructive and forwardly freethinking. I don’t claim to know everything or frame that my methodologies are perfect, but they’re better than nothing…or so I think.
I’ve been writing for a while now (I dabble) and it seems to be something that I can do, so I do it. You can find some of my thoughts or perspectives published weekly, in my local newspaper the (RGJ) Reno Gazette Journal’s, Faith Forum. I am the resident American Indian Spirituality Scholar. I’ve been doing this work for close to four years now and I quite enjoy it. To date, I have received some pretty kind and receptive critiques, which I will gladly take (I bow to you).
To be quite honest, I wasn’t sure initially what type of reception I’d receive from my internal (tribal) and external (non-tribal) communities, but I’ve been told people find hope in my perspectives. It is my belief that there is a need in this world for sincere words, even more so genuine acts, so I write about the action of spirituality and I love what I do. The spiritual content (especially coffee) that I assess transcends lines of race, religion, and locality.
My areas of concentration are non-denominational and I take no religious sides or make no beefs—unless you’re looking for said-beef, then I can definitely find it! I have no need for gimmicks and nonsense. I am not a cheap magician or buffoon, I’m just an Indian trying to make a difference in the World. I continue to climb known (and unknown) spiritual mountains and leave impossibilities and nonsense for the birds. I make sure that I undoubtedly write for the wolves. You know who you are…
I believe that our (inclusive) human essence and innate nature, has always been tribal and that the globalization of individualistic identities, that separates us from each other, is what has been killing the natural environment. Obviously, something needs to change, and I believe it’s got to be us. I write for those who live a spiritual (and not-so spiritual) existence and not from a place of comfort or privilege.
I write for those of us, who have been marginalized, treated with hostility, socio-economically despaired and ridiculed. I write for the working-class practitioner, who struggles to find balance juggling tasks, spiritual energy, and taxes. I write for all those little brown Indian kids that need to relearn not be so domesticated and timid. I write for the ghosts and the unborn.
My story is no different at all, from that of my brothers and sisters who live on reservations across the Country. When I was 9 years old, my 28-year-old father (Everett) who was an alcoholic/heroine-addict committed suicide on the mountain next to our house. When I was 16, my older brother (Thomas) was killed in an alcohol and drug related incident at the age of 18. When I was 20 years old, my younger brother (Russell) was also killed at the age of 18, in a drug and alcohol related event. Those are just few of the people close to me that I’ve buried.
Having buried so many friends and relatives (probably closer to a hundred plus funerals in my life so far): caused by drugs, alcohol, suicide, gang violence (and other strange scenarios), I believe my unique experience has served a purpose for others. I’m a realist, attempting to be an optimist, so believe me when I say, there are lessons in everything on our paths. For most of us, we will continually exhaust ourselves performing the same causational struggle until we truly understand the lesson presented to us. Sometimes, there is no easy way around it; life is going to happen.
So far, I feel like I’ve done well in this life. I have learned to cherish the timely support of family and friends and all their efforts. I’ve chosen to walk different roads: some by choice, others not so much. During my obscure wanderings (as a first-generation college student), I somehow earned an Associates in Occupational Science, Bachelors in Criminal Justice and Masters in Justice Management (UNR, double alumni that’s what’s up). I got through school with the intent of bettering my respective tribe and all other indigenous causes; which I feel like I’m doing everyday.
My goal has always been to create culturally relevant prevention programs for tribal youth, a prize that I am constantly pursuing. Being a troubled youth and professional juvenile delinquent, I can say from experience that the correctional system didn’t work for me—and I’ve always felt that the best way for me to change things has been internally, on a spiritual and prevention-based platform, so that’s what I’ve been doing.
I have been striving ever since to make a difference. As difficult as life can be, I get shit done one prayer at a time. I believe that role modeling is imperative and so is leading by example. Probably most important, is that there will always be a need for positive people in the World (especially kick-ass natives!). Besides, as history has constantly proven to us, substance abuse has never brought tribal people anything of value.
For nearly two decades, I have helped many people on their path, in the areas of spirituality and solving modern community problems. I work very hard at being productive and spending time with people I love. I find great joy sharing laughter and helping others. I do the best with what I have. I’m not a lightweight by any means and put my work in daily.
I’ve been a Tribal Legislator, Law Enforcement Officer, and recently a Federal Operations Officer for Indian Affairs—and I’ve left all those paths (a huge salary, prosperous career, pension, etc.) behind me to serve a cause that I believe in e.g. Lucentree, LLC. My first lesson on my new path for myself, is to always have faith and trust the Spirits. More importantly, that I can’t ask people to do something, that I, myself, am not willing to do…which is follow your dreams. Today, I am living mine.
I write, speak, and teach with heart and voice; that’s what I do and I want to work with all people of the World who want to get shit done. My writings, opinions, and perspectives are not hand crafted or cherry-picked exclusively to impress anyone, just some stuff from off the top of my head. The bottom line is, I am here to do my job in life and then die…it’s really that simple! So here I am, doing the damn thing.
Thank you for your time and consideration and I hope you enjoy what I’m putting out there. —BB