November 01, 2009

Tonto's son the minister

Silverheels has gift to reach, touch, heal

By Amanda GreeneChief Steve Silverheels has Seneca/Mohawk Iroquois heritage from his father, Jay Silverheels who played Tonto in the TV series "The Lone Ranger." He has Jewish heritage from his mother.

He attended a synagogue in New York as a young boy and later went to a Catholic school. Then he spent his young adulthood mostly rejecting religion.

Some who find themselves in such diverse spiritual company might struggle with what to believe.

But the Star-News of Wilmington reported that the 69-year-old Wilmington resident and itinerant Christian minister believes God or The Great Creator made his choice for him in 1974.

"I was an alcoholic and a drug addict after I got out of the Army," he said. That year, after returning to his Florida apartment from a night of hard drinking, Silverheels had what he calls "a visitation from the Lord. And I knew it was my last warning."
Steve Silverheels's connection to the Lone Ranger:Sitting in his Kings Grant home surrounded by Native American ceremonial artifacts including drums, an intricately carved eagle flute and a leather sack labeled "Sage Do not eat!" Silverheels chuckled.

"Some people say this is a museum," he said, gesturing to his full floor-to-ceiling bookshelves with "Lone Ranger" memorabilia and his wife's collection of lighthouse paintings.
And:His videographer, Stan Atamanchuk, said he appeals to people in similar ways as his father did in "The Lone Ranger."

"Tonto finds the near dead Ranger and with "Good Samaritan" care nursed him back to health. This is one of the gifts God has bestowed on Chief Silverheels, to reach, to touch, to bless. His audiences are attracted to his healing prayers and touch," he wrote in an e-mail.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Stupidity in Enter the Lone Ranger and Fetching in Enter the Lone Ranger.

Below:  Chief Steve Silverheels and his wife Katherine. (Photo from

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