In Remembrance of Kevin Locke )June 23, 1954 - September 30, 2022
Dear Friends of the Patricia Locke Foundation,
As September 30, 2023 marks the one-year anniversary of our dear friend and founder Kevin Locke’s transition to the spiritual abode, the Patricia Locke Foundation board and staff are reminded of the importance to keep the continuity of Kevin’s work alive as part of our mission. We are dedicated more than ever to make accessible the educational content Kevin so meticulously and amply recorded, collated and left behind for the benefit of the future generations. These soul transforming materials endowed with rich understanding of the oneness of mankind as portrayed by a Master Traditional Artist and a National Heritage Fellow continue to impact young people everywhere around the globe. The in-classroom as well as remote access programs that Kevin carefully planned and developed as part of the foundations’ service are still the very programs we prioritize for the benefit of the minds, bodies and spirits of the young people.
Although Kevin’s sudden departure from this physical plane has left us with a deep void, the body of his educational messages and the power it possesses in transcending the human soul from the limitations of its circumstantial existence to the reality of its glorious and unified destiny is very much palpable. In this special newsletter some of the present and past members of the board of the foundation would like to share memories and sentiments about our dear friend Kevin and how he touched us in a personal way.
The foundation invites friends to an online devotional event “In Remembrance of Kevin Locke” scheduled for October 7, Saturday from 2:30 to 3:30PM Eastern Standard Time at the following zoom link. A flier announcement will follow on our social media pages:
Join IN REMEMBRANCE OF KEVIN LOCKE online devotional
Meeting ID: 870 056 9211
With Love and Gratitude,
The Board of the Patricia Locke Foundation
Memories and Testimonials:
My friend Kevin and I came into the Baha’i Faith in the same year (1979). I met him on the shore of Lake Michigan near the Baha’i House of Worship in Evanston, Illinois. There was a large contingency of Indigenous Baha’is gathered there from all over Turtle Island, and it was thrilling for me to be there as a newbie. All the participants were decked out in their traditional regalia, and the big drums had everyone up for many hours dancing in a Sacred Circle, and speakers spoke in the evening at the big Hall. Kevin’s opening remarks on the first evening were sprinkled with his inimitable sense of humor as he shared the following words to his audience: "This next Flute song is a love song, so gentlemen hang on to your ladies” Everyone had a good laugh at this comment!! And when he began to play his flute, he played it with such love and reverence, that one could definitely see how this tune would have been a sure way to entice a partner! I miss my dear friend but know that all those who also had this joyous pleasure to meet and serve with him honor all his many contributions and constant mantra of being one human family. Thank you and safe journey my dear brother. Louise Profeit-LeBlanc-Co-President of the Patricia Locke Foundation
I lived in Juneau, AK for awhile and one morning, a Baha’i friend who worked on the Alaska Marine Highway ferry contacted me as he was arriving on the ferry very early one morning and said he had met Kevin on the ferry and Kevin needed a ride into town. It was a very snowy morning and luckily I had a 4-wheel drive vehicle that made it out to the ferry terminal on roads that had not been plowed. On my way home, I called two friends who were Alaska National Spiritual Assembly members and who lived in the same condo complex as me. I invited them over for breakfast and to have a special time to visit with Kevin as he had no engagement until that evening. There were four of us so I made ten scrambled eggs, a big pan of fried potatoes and bacon. When that was eaten, I asked if anyone wanted anything more, and Kevin continued our special visit and conversation while he ate. Kevin was coming back through Juneau after a few more visits in Alaska, and he said he would be happy to visit with the indigenous Baha’is one evening. I invited all the Indigenous Baha’is in Juneau to my home, and we had a great visit with Kevin. We had casual conversation and heard some jokes from Kevin. One joke was something like this, “What is commitment?” There were a few answers, then Kevin said, “Well, it’s like bacon and eggs…the chicken laid the egg, so it contributed. But the pig, it’s committed.” He talked about the physical, emotional and spiritual conditions for those who lived where he did on the Standing Rock Reservation and the community building activities that were in place to engage people, especially the children and youth. After he concluded his speaking, someone asked Kevin if he would accept a donation of money to assist with the material aspects of the work being done - money for vehicle fuel, or books, or for food, etc. Kevin was quiet for a moment, then looked up at the ceiling and then down at his feet and softly asked, “Is what you want to do sustainable?” He then shared that this was a long term need and there is a spiritual solution that needs to be embraced by many more people to help those in need to arise to their place of nobility. Marylou Miller-Co-President of the Patricia Locke Foundation
I will attempt to describe a day where we were planning a junior youth group camp to have a sweat, and it was pouring rain!! Dark clouds, lightening, etc…. I was sure that it would be cancelled, but Kevin was not bothered and had a couple of the boys go with him. I found out from a distance watching from my car that he used the boys to hold flat cardboard to cover the fire as he was lighting it… it was like the day that Moses split the sea so people could cross. I swear I witnessed the fire flame up between the trees and the clouds blew away and the sun came out …They had the sweat lodge, and we were able to continue our camp weekend. That was just one of many such times that I witnessed his ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Karen Pulkrabek-Board Member at the Patricia Locke Foundation
In the Fall of 2012, Kevin was invited to teach, perform and elevate children at several schools in Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada. Kevin was a true teacher, in that he not only imparted knowledge, history and understanding, but he did so in a manner that changed the conditions in which a student learns - specifically by speaking to their heart and soul while wrapping them in love and nobility. While I had observed Kevin’s masterful performance on many stages, this particular visit to Winnipeg gave me a fuller understanding of the lasting impact of his service to humanity.
The first example was the moment he finished playing the flute, followed by some classic humor to leave the audience in a pure state of joy. It was as though a magnate of the heart was exposed, as teachers, administrators, students and others flocked to him to shake his hand, say goodbye, ask a question and of course, purchase his music. But this kind of attraction was far more spiritual than celebrity. Knowing my child’s peers and teachers, I could sense that they had all been reconnected to the divine through Kevin’s central message of unity and oneness. Perhaps unbeknownst to themselves, he had reflected back the unconditional love of our Creator, which permeated the school and lingered for weeks after he left. What is so special about this kind of teaching, is that no one was left out, no one really knew what they were learning, but everyone gained capacity and strength in closer association with one another thanks to Kevin’s gentle invitation to pickup that hoop and dance, to recognize our interconnectedness, and most importantly to extend that understanding to every created thing. Jordan Bighorn-Former Board Member at the Patricia Locke Foundation
Kevin touched my heart when I first met him as a child and had the honor of witnessing his talent, wisdom, and courage. Through the many years of knowing him, I was inspired by his generosity in sharing both his sacred culture and beautiful artistic legacy. Kevin’s light has been a gift to the world and his impact will be remembered by history. Layli Miller-Muro-Advisory Board Member at the Patricia Locke Foundation
The warbles of canyon wrens and hoots of owls punctuated the silence. A breeze rustled the leaves of oak and birch. Ponderosa Pine needles hummed. I was grateful to stand among a few dozen family members and friends who made the long drive from the memorial to the gravesite in the heart of the Black Hills to honor Kevin Locke. The photograph distributed at the memorial shows Kevin dancing in the prairies. He wears the same traditional red, white, blue and yellow regalia he performed in throughout the world. One foot is raised and the other rooted to the earth. The white hoop above his head intertwines with a yellow, red, black and another red hoop. He gazes out toward the hills, perhaps sensing the ancestors, teachers and mentors, family and friends he has joined in the mystic realms. Their names were etched in his heart and flowed from his tongue. He remembered the many who influenced and shaped him. In our celebrity-driven, power-hungry, see-me world, Kevin provided a refreshing contrast. Though he performed for the Dalai Lama, at the Kennedy Center, and on stages around the world, he preferred capturing the budding imaginations of children in small rural schools in a remote village or at home on the reservation. Though he was the recipient of honors and awards, he sat among us as one of us. When I approached him with the idea to write a memoir, his immediate response was, “Why would anyone want to read a book about me?” “Well, you are known for your commitment to the arts—your dancing, music, storytelling. Your message of unity is important,” I responded. “I don’t want to do anything that’s self-serving,” he said with a firmness I didn’t think I’d be able to budge. Thankfully, I was able to convince him that his story could be of service. Who knew that this would be a last chance for him to share his life story in his own words?
One of the deeply moving aspects of Kevin’s life involved his search for purpose earlier in his life. An uncle suggested he enter the traditional four-day Lakota fast with a particular prayer in mind. Kevin decided to pray for guidance about his purpose in life. He felt unsettled in his work as a school administrator. He felt he wasn’t doing what he was in the world to do. He began the fast, offering songs and prayers, pondering the trees and sky. Day dissolved into night into day into night. The unexpected and unusual heat beat him down into a state of utter despair and nothingness. Where was God? Why was he not receiving any answers? When his uncles arrived, they had to carry Kevin, weakened and wailing, out of the hills. Kevin’s experience of absolute nothingness was in reality a birthplace that led him to life-long purpose. Though he didn’t sense God during the fast, two significant moments occurred that next year, which transformed his life. He was invited to join the Baha’i Faith, an invitation he accepted. He also attended a pow wow in New York, and a new friend handed him a hoop and said, “I’m passing you the dance. You will travel the world, perform and share our peoples’ stories.” Kevin thought he was joking, until Arlo Goodbear continued. “I will give you four lessons. The first one begins now.” Though Arlo passed away before offering the additional lessons, he appeared to Kevin in dreams to teach him what would enable him to begin a new career. He served in Arlo’s stead as cultural ambassador for the United States and traveled to over 90 countries, receiving numerous awards, fellowships and recognition. Kevin braided his faith, culture and vocation to became one coherent exploration and expression of his core belief that we are members of one human family. This story provides hope and is worthy of being shared, especially to youth, who are often searching for meaning and purpose. Life’s difficulties and calamities can beat us down into despair. We can feel at times we’ve reached a dead end, instead of a curve in the road. We may wonder why we are here in this world. Kevin’s story of the fast invites us to question our perceptions. What if our sense of nothingness is actually the birthplace of new beginnings? What if our sense of nothingness enables us to recognize God’s Power, rather than relying on our own?
Another story from Kevin’s memoir, “Arising,” that contains needed wisdom relates to a visit Kevin took to the Marshall Islands. While touring an exhibit about Micronesian culture, he viewed a replica of traditional boats. The saying was that no matter how perfectly constructed a boat, the internal condition of the crew was more important. The most enlightened captains knew that the first rough wave would take a boat down if the crew was disunified. These captains, these leaders, would gather their crew to sing, dance and pray. Even if it took a year or two, they would not set sail until they achieved true unity. Kevin knew the painful effects of disunity. He understood the effects of war, battles, genocides, slavery, boarding schools, the various forms of division and disconnection. Like most of us, he knew that undoing the effects of this war-torn planet would take generations. He understood that we are all light and shadow, complex, wounded, reactive, and struggling to subdue our complexities and surrender our soul to the Divine Mystery.
Kevin modeled to me, time and again, a decision to surrender. He demonstrated profound humility, the recognition that it was God alone who was transforming and guiding him. He lay his struggles in God’s hands. His victories were God’s victories. He lit up the world with his gifts and talents. He traveled to share the message of peace through the folk arts. He shared and preserved traditional Lakota and Indigenous culture and Baha’u’llah’s healing message of transformation and unity. Future visitors–family members, friends, and historians, will take the long drive off the main road into the heart of the Black Hills, a most fitting burial site for our friend and brother who traveled the world and through the folk arts, taught us about our oneness with God, Grandmother Earth, and each other. There, in the expansive silence, may we all hear our own heartbeat and breath. As we honor a man who was known to quote Sitting Bull, “It’s not becoming of an eagle to behave like a crow,” may we rediscover our noble essence, develop more qualities and arise to transform ourselves and our world. Kim Douglas-Former Board Member at the Patricia Locke Foundation
I would like to share some words in honor of Kevin Locke at the first anniversary of his passing. His spirit is with all of us and God has put him in a great position in the next world. I like to share some memories with him particularly reflecting on our special trips to various parks and nature walks. These outings were some of the best and most fun times because my dad made nature so much fun! He had a great effect on the whole world and brightened the light inside everyone he met. This includes animals too. I dearly miss him and I know all of you do too.
My dad and I loved to go on hikes at this nature trail on our walks back from school where I first saw spiders in close up. Most people would be running and screaming when they see spiders but my dad loved spiders and spider nets. That day I asked for my dads’ phone so I can take close pictures of the spiders. And we went on photographing many; crab spiders, banana spiders, and spiders that look like tarantulas and daddy long legs mixed together. My dad told me that if a spider has a red mark on its back then it is probably poisonous. Later on the trail my dad and I saw a black snake. He told me garden snakes are very useful and leave them be. For some reason I wanted to pet it but my dad said: “No you must be careful with the animals Patricia and respect them.” So we kept moving forward and we also stopped in the butterfly trail where I could catch and release butterflies. My dad taught me how to gently let them land on your hand and talk to them nicely and let them go without harming them. My best memories were when we would run around the trail and jog and sprint. He would never be tired of playing with me and he taught me a lot of things about nature and that how to be respectful of the ecosystem. In my younger age I was obsessed with fairies. My dad told me that we should build a fairy house because that is a very kind thing to do. He also told me that if I do it, the fairies would sprinkle fairy dust on me which would make me fly whenever I want. I actually believed that so we did that. Sadly, the next day it was smashed and I was very sad. But my dad cheered me up at the end saying now we can build another one. Another time at the park, I was hanging upside down on the monkey bars while my dad was teaching me some tricks. I was thinking about making some friends but I could not bring myself to do it. I told my dad that I wanted to be friends with these people who were sitting in a group under a gazebo but I was way too shy to actually go up to them and say, “Hey, you want to be friends with me?” But my dad told me to get up and get the courage to ask so I did but with his help of course. The only reason why I was so nervous to get the courage to speak up was because if they say no then it would be very embarrassing. My dad said you just have to trust yourself. And I am glad I did because I made friends and they were celebrating a birthday that day and I got to eat cake too! This taught me to be brave and that unity and friendship can spread with courage and bravery. Patricia Hupahu Locke-Junior Youth Member at the Patricia Locke Foundation
I wrote this at Kevin’s birthday a few months before his passing. It is also befitting for his birth into the next worlds of God on our eternal journey…
I will share one mysterious fact about Kevin. If you know him a day you know that he has an uncanny connection to his homelands in the prairies. He loves the land with his entire being as a complete choice of his own. He lived on, learned from and loved the land with his own volition (made a decision as a teen) and that is not the mysterious part. It is that the land loves him back equally! The song birds give up their songs for him to be inspired on a tune, the wind wraps around him when he walks down the tall grass, the sun is sparkling more joyfully when he looks up to meet the dawn, the soil under his feet give way to his passage....when he is praying a song, it is as though every leaf is listening. I behold this love exchange when I can and I truly understand how the land is alive with the spiritual imprint of the masses. The prairies also made a choice.
May your birthday song ascend and become the voice of the Land today Kevin!
Ceylan Isgor-Locke-Board Member at the Patricia Locke Foundation