Arthur Kopecky author of New Buffalo: Journals from a Taos Commune
New Buffalo Commune  Taos New Mexico
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New Buffalo Journals

From Foreword by Peter Coyote:

They gave of themselves joyously, and patched together ersatz religious practices and ceremonies to make life together joyous.


Sunset over New Buffalo Commune, Taos New Mexico
In the spirit of the one-world family, friends, acquaintances, people on the road were living together. There was a magic to it, and I found a group of people that became my new family.
At the start of one of the communes, a group took the idea of the buffalo providing for the plains people. To this they added New to create a name. The New Buffalo was to be a new way of providing for the people.
-- From the Introduction

On arriving at New Buffalo; “The pull of the magic is great. Here we are, after only three days, in the Southwest. I’m amazed and just like always, enchanted more than I can say. Our path is surely good.”  --Pg. 12

- At New Buffalo are Chuck, Tahiti, and Larry, a quiet blond-haired fellow who has been here three years and is an excellent fellow. These three lead wonderful quiet prayers in the evening that start with “Heavenly Father God.” Steve who has been here the longest, says a fine prayer often at dinner that sounds about this way, “Bless all the people on the road, and bless our parents. Help us past our petty bickering to see the good we can do together.” Pg 13

- We are here together, glad to have work. We are all discussing the agriculture
scene. By next spring, I would certainly like to be part of an effort producing some food.
Heavenly Father God, bless our lives and prosper us and all our brothers and sisters who work for a good life for all people. Pg. 14

- Electric band was really good in this fine big house with lots of Anglos, Chicanos and a few Indians from Taos Pueblo. Rick Klein was at the party. I am told he put up the original $50,000 that got Buffalo off the ground. Pg. 15

- Everyone now is on the circle cleanup schedule. The large kiva underground room, our neo-ancient temple, is where we have Circle – hold hands and pray before dinner…. Commune living is like a crash course in living with people – how to get along. Now communes are housing and feeding people and are basically places where all people can come together. Pg. 18

- Ears of corn dry over our heads. We sit on pillows and rugs in our dirt house. In the dim light I can make out the Buffalo skull on the wall. But it’s the oneness, the love felt, which is hard to convey. Pg. 20

- Pepe is just so welcoming and genuinely excited to see just about anyone. Pg. 22

- Heavenly Father, my brothers and sisters: In the renewed fight in South Asia, many people shall die or be maimed and wounded. Bless these all. May they somehow find some comfort in their suffering. Here we live in peace. I hope soon that all men will be able to live in peace. Pg. 24

- About 10 people, bringing a big salad, came up from the Hog Farm to celebrate Tahiti’s birthday. Fifty people here for dinner. Ten kids sitting around the table. Pg. 27

Sandy and Jason, recent--family love.

- People snoring in the circle – I can understand the uptightness. I could go sleep up at the open-air barn and be away from these distractions; that is the trick, I believe. We each find our place with Mother Earth and use the big houses as centers of the people’s culture – for the service of the people. My thought is complex, though, for I like a tight family and quiet. Look within us to solve the problem. God bless our open house and have my brothers and sisters feel very good. Pg 45

- New Buffalo is looking very good. Every room is occupied and well kept. The fields green, pastures lush, work areas clean and tools all put away. Twenty-nine of us all together here; a small commune; only people that we are close with – a very good sign.
Pg. 51
- Written by Camille: There is good family love here-sometimes it is totally diffused, but at a scene like last night, the Buffalo’s had so much love from each other that it grew and engulfed all the 300 people in our home. Pg. 52

- July 5, 1972: Stars are out. “Heavenly Father, let me accomplish the tasks I set before myself.” A good way, I believe. I have my health. What must I do in return? Be disciplined. In time will come joy. “Thank you for whatever that I have, this sure knowledge of what I must do.” I am pleased with the setting, the people, the land, and houses. I look within myself and when I can do more, then my life will change some more again, and the communes in which I live will be at that much higher a level. “Bless my mind that I may write humorously – tell the tale well – so people can know the magic and can taste our life together.”--Pg. 56

- Joe cooked excellent cornbread muffins. Many people sitting around the table. It continues to rain and blow. I love the rain. It’s cozy here, sheltered in the earth with our broad family.--Pg. 59

- Guest writer: Saturday night, a medicine meeting took place on Lama Mountain. I was fortunate enough to have a place within the Lodge~Praise the Lord! I prayed for this place and the people. I feel as though I received many blessings.--Pg. 63

– worked hard all day. Donald, who arrived yesterday on his Harley, gave us some help. We work because it is a commune job, and we work for the commune – great trust, faith, and spirit. --Pg. 64

- Ray writes on leaving: I would like to say, from within my heart, that Buffalo the Family has been a great blessing to me and I hope that I may always be close to the people here. I love you, everyone and may the Spirit guide and bless you with the answer to your prayers. Peace on the Earth, Goodwill to Men.--Pg. 73

- We had a picnic today at Garcia Park at about 11,000 feet in the mountains. This is our family –16 people and a good size – I rather like it. Louisa whispers in my ear that she is not entirely happy though. “What a revolution,” says Max;--Pg. 75

- Potatoes are stacked about 5 deep on shelves made of chicken wire. The carrots are in a bin with sand. Fine family we have here, as we get ready to survive the winter.--Pg 81

- The meeting finally started about 10pm with perhaps 15 people. Like a mirage, the white teepee, pitched right in the courtyard, glowed in the heart of the pueblo from its fire; the drum beat all night long.--Pg. 83

- I am swearing off tobacco and liquor. They don’t do anything good for me. Not that I consume that much, but it hurts when I do.
--Pg. 86

- It’s a biblical scene here in our mud and straw compound that could have existed 2000 years ago. And the love is no less genuine. Jason got a bunch of presents, and he and Sandy opened some of them in here with me. Pepe up first thing, to get back to preparing the feast. About 25 people are here. I sure am hungry.--Pg. 95

- Paul Rotman has been a great help to me and I’m glad he is here. He has the same concern as I do, to see that the woodpile is high. Today he has taken the truck to Eagle’s Nest Lumber Mill to buy mill ends. We have decided we shouldn’t risk the deep snow in the forest. Through good and bad, we stick together.--Pg. 97

- I just read about it, these last few weeks; the United States government, once again, devastated parts of North Vietnam with the most massive bombing yet. The bombs weigh 500 lbs. apiece. What a terrible beating these people take from the country I live in. It is no wish of mine that they be beaten. Think; what if we dropped a similar value of refrigerators and generators and everything poor people can use? That might do more good. They never think to try that.--Pg. 98

- In the evening, a group of 10 young people came to our home. They all are part of a private school near Dallas, Texas, and are taking a course on alternative lifestyles. As part of the course, they have a house where a different group of people live together each month.--Pg. 103

- We certainly are fortunate to have so much in our society. Here we have great freedom, and we have love for each other restricted only by our own minds. Our path is peace. This we can hold to, steadfast. Make this communal way prosper. That is my idea.--Pg. 104

- I spent my last spare money on oranges and apples. Today we broke the treasury on the wood run. The last 40 cents went for lemons.--Pg. 106

Pg 108 - Paul asked me why I am here…. Still, locked in here somewhere, I think, is the key to sharing wealth and hope for the future. So I stay.

Pg.109 - This is potentially a good size farm. The water can reach about 50 acres. I see we have to clean the elaborate system. Here is the key to the farm, and it is dawning on me how to unlock it.
The huge teepee is up and the floor covered with sheepskins, blankets, and rugs. Tonight we go in to pray for a good spring and for this place. New Buffalo was started with a peyote meeting. The ceremony joins the spirit of the new arrivals and the Indians, and gives thanks to mother earth, father sky, and Jesus, for our life.

- No reason why this small farm shouldn’t flourish. Exciting idea. No sense in having this trip take forever to get off the ground. I want to do great things.--Pg 115

- Snow falls silently on our roof. Around the fire in the circle sit 3 men in their blankets – one of them chants. The 2 are Seiks that Sequoia met in town and invited out to spend a night on their journey. The third man is our own Pepe. Anything genuinely spiritual, indigenous, ignites a flame in Pepe.--Pg. 119

- Fine spring – good work. We are pioneers in the commune way. Now to grow in strength and knowledge and make this settlement prosper so we may enjoy and share the good things of this earth.--Pg. 126

- It was real work, as prayer meetings are meant to be. Up all night as the drum passes around, one singing, one drumming. The peyote tea passes around also. If one gets ill, they must ask permission to be excused.--Pg. 135

- The Rio Hondo is running very clear. It is still higher than it ever was last year. No houses in sight, only trees, boulders and rushing waters. It distorts people to have only buildings and asphalt and nowhere for kids to have adventures. Now to share the wonders without destroying them.--Pg. 139

- We are learning. We all hold hands and pray before our evening meals, and we sing all the songs we know. Through it all, we feel our way of life will prosper; it is slow, but we are getting stronger. How to live and survive and what is good and right is becoming less of a mystery. The cold winds are blowing up and our fires will burn another year and we’ll do better. --Pg. 152

- I lay in the cold mists, as the deep forest became light. In the distance I could just make out a lone elk. I watched and drank in the moment, too perfect to disturb.--Pg. 153

– (The Peyote Church followers): don’t smoke marijuana, and they do offer their prayers to Jesus Christ. Holly and Neil are quite Christian, but the rest of us pretty much care as much for Buddhism and Judaism and what have you, as we do for Christianity.
In the afternoon we had a very beautiful wedding with Reverend Grabener officiating. They were married on an improvised altar, before the newly sculpted buffalo on the adobe wall. It has the buffalo skull above it and a buffalo robe on the floor beneath
--Pg. 162
.
- I know I feel it; we have a powerful thing going that is bigger than any of us.--Pg. 163

Pg. 171 - This is the start of a spiritual age…. We live in a meetinghouse…. We do pray together every night holding hands…. Our vehicle has paintings on it from 3 Indian cultures; painted on in fine colors and figures by Pepe. The most obvious spiritual connection; we work more to serve each other and find a new path, than to accumulate personal wealth.

- Here we are in the middle of a blizzard, snow coming down thick…. Boy, oh boy, we’re back in the farming business. The Heavenly Father smiles on us and does not forget us. Though we missed a good chance last year to plant all the fields, we won’t miss this time.--Pg. 175

- No bag of corn or dried fruit does he carry, but a bag of dog food – lack of consciousness – just as a rich man may ignore the poor and may squander millions, so the poor man plays the same fool and thinks not of how he can help himself or others.
Pg. 181 – Helping the neighbors, Reb and I finished the plowing in the moonlight…. Next, bring the equipment over to Jonathon’s. From there it will go to David’s near the Learning Center.--Pg. 178

– It takes It takes a long time and many tests to find our brothers. “Brothers, find your brothers” is a call of our time. Any movement worth its salt, has its disappointments, it’s betrayals, and its opportunists. Whose mind is so subtle that it can see every mind? I know there are some I don’t see. I hope for my brothers and sisters to pick up on the blind spots.--Pg. 183

- Ron gave me his last $100. He is a solid brother, working for the same things I am for. He believes that our life is a practical way to forward brotherhood and world peace as I do. He is serious and works at the tasks at hand.--Pg. 184

- I am realizing more and more that the elite who control the economy are going to have to be gotten off their throne. Land of equality with such disparity is farce. More and more I believe, that in my lifetime, I should see some major change take place in this area.
The commune is a natural alternative to the life style of consumption. I’ve still got a notion in the back of my head, that this may play a role in the future of this country’s economics. With roots in the soil, with people being close to some essentials, there would be less insecurity about the often-slipping numbers of jobs. With more working people not so dependent on the jobs offered by the big corporations, we would perhaps be able to depose those people who guide our economy into such conspicuous consumption.
--Pg. 190

- All of a sudden, we are pretty much home free. The corn can go without another irrigation – the squash too. The wheat is turning yellow and the kernels are full. The oat fields look uniform. The alfalfa looks fresh, over a foot tall. We live in such abundance. A bunch of poor people, we are still able to scrape up what we need to patch and glue this scene together.--Pg. 200

- Walking down the back road, holding Sandy’s hand, I told her she’s the only gal for me now.--Pg. 202

- At least 12 guests here. Guest scene has been pretty mellow, but almost none of these people are food-conscious enough to contribute something to our kitchen. Very good though, the way people, for some reason, feel a part of the place.--Pg. 203

– guest writer: Kim led the barley harvest, which looks good. Threshing next.
Everyone working very hard and well together. Spirits seem higher than they have for some time. Shorter days, longer nights. I think many are looking towards quieter times this winter. Kitchen doing excellent. We must really consider ourselves wealthy with all the blessings, which have been given us.--Pg. 209

- We hooked up the circle stove for the first time tonight and put springs on the doors. We can still have the open fire for ceremonies, but the stove gives more heat for less wood.--Pg. 211

- In discussing the horses, we are working out our ideas of commune: of what we, and those to follow, are to do, to make our “dream” a reality. I want us to create an economic enterprise that can continue without the overseer of a private owner.--Pg. 214
.
-Our real hope is the farm. With a farm behind us, we’ll have a new life. That’s our problem now; to make it until the farm is really producing.--Pg. 215

- One segment of society sees fear and despair. For us, it is hope and the promise of a future not  dominated by the present culture that we have dropped out of.--Pg. 217

- Thanks to Holy Cross Hospital. It’s a very modern medical establishment, which has never refused help to anyone that I know of. Bring in some poor folk and they take 'em right in.--Pg. 218

– About the founding of New Buffalo: When the nucleus group came to look at this piece of land, they saw a mountain lion – a good sign. They liked the site and the price was right. They decided to buy…. They bought some teepees and a $5000 tractor. On or about June 21, 1967, an improvised peyote meeting was held around a fire, in the open, under the full moon. A coffee can and plastic top had to serve for a drum. Fellow Randy Rand was there, who is a good singer and was the drummer. Steve Hinton carried cedar. This was our official beginning at New Buffalo.--Pg. 223

- Quite a good harvest of beans and corn were brought in at least 1 year. A pretty great flow of people also started with the first spring.--Pg. 223

- Now we are headed for the ’75 growing season, where we are going to look like a prosperous farm. After 8 years, we’ve had more than a 1000 people come through; several hundred have lived here. Out of these are some 15 adults, all turned onto developing a successful ranch, who are at New Buffalo now. Quite a story. --Pg. 224

- I’ve been reading about the old times…. Through all those times, we had the spirit and conviction to stick it out…. I’m glad we could do it so happily. I’m glad its over now, and we are into a higher plane, a more productive stage. I am stronger, and my days of such complete ignorance are behind me. Thank God.--Pg. 225

- World peace, brotherhood, service to your fellows, respect for teachers, love for God, group consciousness: these things I am for, and they are found in many ways. It seems rather narrow and naïve to expect everyone to give up his or her good leaders and solid beliefs to follow one way. Peace does not require it, nor prosperity nor art.
Everyday I go out in the fields. I watch the cows graze, and I look at the many plants. I can feel the wonder there, which will be evident when the sun brings the scene to life.--Pg. 226

Pg. 228 - I finished preparing one place for plowing. I’m feeling good and looking forward to the next day. I want to be so immersed in the work, the movement. I’m just getting to see, once in a while, what it could feel like to be really alive. Super energy – strong – clear.

- I believe we are supposed to achieve real production with extra for trade. To me, it is a challenge. I’ve known we could do it, even before I could see how. I hung on through those tough years with certain faith. Now I can see much more clearly what the elements are we need… The commune is just a bunch of houses and people without an enterprise. Such communes fail. They fail to sustain the people, and like Reality and Morningstar, they cease to exist.--Pg. 230

- Here we share driving and maintaining the trucks and tractor. We share cooking and shopping. When we mud, it is a joint operation. When we get wood, it is a variety of people who handle it. When we irrigate, no one tries to do it alone. When we plant the garden and order seeds, it is a group effort.--Pg. 232

– After visiting Ortiviz ranch, Libre, Red Rockers, Farracita Farm it : Seems, the commune scene is doing well. Still, of course, we have our problems; short of money, poor vehicle condition, the give and take between more communal and less communal. Basically all these things are small compared to the reality of a close family, lots of energy and resourcefulness. People seemed happy to me, a little heavy smoking by some. Kids are free and have lots of room, food, and friends. Feels great to be there; they’re all family to me. --Pg. 240

– Commenting on the Vietnam War: Patriotism and virtue mixed up with money-hungry, powerful capitalists. The US spent $150 billion, I believe, on the Vietnam War. All the slick McNamaras, all the wealthy generals and captains of industry, could never conceive of spending such funds to build, to help. They love their extravagant modern weapons and munitions. And with all their intelligence and war colleges they could never see what I could see. They had created a myth. Our leaders reinvented history saying there was not a popular revolution because the VC had foreign help. Like didn’t France help us win our revolution? They were blind to the size and power of the popular forces and the righteousness of their complaints. After fighting for so long, they became so immensely powerful that the end now is involving little fighting actually.
It is amazing to me to read about the ending of a war that for 10 years, I have wanted to see resolved. I wish we could have spent that money in a barrage of aid. Where is the dream to improve the lot of mankind? In World War II we did so well. I never questioned the greatness of the US. But here we stumbled. Can’t get it right all the time. --Pg. 241

- This is what we counter, unending development. The trend to get everyone into cities – abandoning small farms – getting people to buy all they need. We keep building cities, freeways, suburbs, and shopping centers. It’s disturbing. Our culture is so addicted to building, as though the earth were expanding beneath our feet. Us, I see as an alternative, not dependent on having jobs building cities and roads, destroying the natural landscape. I would rather see us spread out in the country, oriented to the land and streams and plains; not oriented to the commute and pavement.--Pg. 266

- I marvel at our little earth pueblo in the snow; brown buildings against a white low sky and white ground. It looks mystic and like a vision. Inside very quiet and swept; empty floor in the circle except for the 4 pillars of wood, the big cedar table, and fire platform in the center, and stove – simple uncluttered, spacious, like a Mosque.--Pg. 268

- A few weeks ago, Sylvie and her kids just met us and now 4 complete strangers have been accepted into the heart of our lives, into our home, and to share in our work. This traveling musician Carolyn has taken advantage of our hospitality and stays here frequently – has her own room. The other night, a stranger passing through was referred to us by Taos Social Services as a place to stay overnight.--Pg. 270

- Max Finstein is in town; I saw him at the dance. He was very happy and proud to see me. I’ve picked up the dream, so to speak, and stuck with it, and I know it helps make all the good things Max has believed in seem like they still have a chance…. That’s a magic moment when you haven’t seen someone like that in some time, but with whom you are mystically tied. Because of fate, we’ve come to do a big thing together.-- Pg. 272

- He hears tales and rumors of Buffalo when he’s away, and they’re saying good things about his baby – big family taking care of people, real farm, still pray together, eat together, work together. And he knows I’m his man working in there for him and for ideas that are so essential to us that we don’t even ever really talk about them.
I introduced Max to Mike Pots: In a year Mike won’t spend a dime on potato chips or candy, to say nothing of beer. Not a cent wasted, and he works hard for any money he can get, and he saves it for pet projects of improvement for the commune…. And to him as to me, the commune is a basic ingredient for our survival in this world.--Pg. 273

- Commune is a place for a family group to live together and work together, not a catch all for an unrelated bunch of hard luck cases. There is the ebb and flow. It is important to have guests and friends visit and to be able to teach.--Pg. 276

- Ron the mystic. With Ron ideologically, I am the closest I guess. He believes commune members should be politically conscious – conscious of helping create a better world – see the commune as important part of our society. But ideology means what? “Words are turds on the backs of birds,” says Pepe.--Pg. 279

- Kim is a great fan of the commune and this is important. To him what we have is a dream coming true. So it is for me too
.--Pg. 280

- Can the people slow down the pollution, even reverse it? Can we achieve real disarmament, less world tensions and apply our resources to the accumulating problems of mankind? Will we further brotherhood and one day not have such a divided world? I certainly still believe we will get there.--Pg. 283

– Pepe has: “great powers of communication, talking about freedom, love and peace and revolution; that’s the word now, revolution, in the bi-centennial year. The whole country is celebrating our old revolution. So how about digging some of the new revolution!--Pg. 286

--We hope to inspire people to live this way. We want people to feel good knowing that there are mellow, down to earth places, where they can find friendship; a place to feel at home with the earth, where people respect you as a traveler and a seeker.
Power to the people. The resources are in our hands to do great works. More will come if we do well with what we have. May peace continue and grow as we persevere toward the fulfillment of our dreams.--Pg. 289

   
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