Deer Tribe

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The Deer Tribe, or Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society (DT), claims the status of an ethnic group with its name, but it is an artificial association with cult character. Persons willing to join do not need to prove a certain ethnic affiliation or descendence, but must rather submit to a system of courses. Deer Tribe sells a system of courses building on each other, in which students eventually will advance to higher grades of initiation; these courses will incur a fee.

Since Harley Reagan's death in 2013, the enterprise is run by his second wife Dianne Reagan.

Formation of Deer Tribe

Harley "Soke" Reagan

Deer Tribe was founded in 1986 by Harley Reagan (a Swiss DT-site, however, claims it was founded „by the end of the 70ies“.[1]) Its legend and name have been adjusted several times meanwhile. Although the name suggests it is an indigenous ethnic group or association, this does not correspond with facts. The term 'Métis' is used in Canada, where it describes a state recognized ethnic group with its own culture and language (Michif); in the USA, this term has experienced an increased use as of late, but it is mostly used by persons claiming indigenous ancestry which usually is said to have happened several generations before and usually cannot be verified or documented.

Reagan first posed as a Cherokee and claimed to teach secret Cherokee rituals; in reality, red-haired Reagan is a US-American of Irish descent. After the Cherokee nation clarified Reagan was no Cherokee and that his 'teachings' had nothing to do at all with Cherokee spirituality, he adjusted his legend. Since then, he claims a descent from Cherokee and Maya; his 'teachings' then became an alleged conglomerate of spiritual traditions of several peoples, especially of Maya, Olmec, and Toltecs. Furthermore, Reagan presumably meant to realign to other, already established New-Age vendors and perhaps become attractive to their respective clientele, too, since Reagan took up the terms 'tonal' and 'nagual' launched by Carlos Castaneda, and also claimed to have studied with an alleged Navaho 'shaman' who he says is identical with the Don Gennaro character in Castaneda's books.[2]

Legend exposed

Reagan claimed a Navaho medicine person, Tom Wilson, as his teacher and even linked Wilson to the Newage novels written by Carlos Castaneda by contending Wilson was in fact the person Castaneda mentioned as "Don Genaro" in his books. According to Reagan, Wilson also belonged to the "Twisted Hairs" who are an invention of Reagan's and never existed. Apparently, a researcher interested in checking the claims put forward by Reagan established that although an existing person, Wilson never was Reagan's teacher and hardly could have been: Wilson spoke no English, and Reagan spoke no Navaho. The researcher interviewed surviving children and grandchildren of Tom Wilson who strongly and unanimously rejected Reagan's claims and the family feels shamed and humiliated by Reagan's allegations.[3]

Curriculum vitae of Harley Reagan

Neither the DT websites nor Wikipedia are able to come up with a curriculum vitae. Research is difficult, as Reagan himself presented lots of divergent and contradictory information. A date or year of birth is not available for Reagan; however, the exact day of his passing - September 10, 2013[4] - is rendered.

By his own account, Reagan was born in Texas. He further claims to have joined the US Air Force Academy as a cadet in 1958, but already left in May 1959 to join the US Marine Corps in June 1959.[5] After a one-year training, Reagan claims to have served in Vietnam for four years, starting in 1960, but also claims his first mission with combat experience took him to Taiwan.[6].

Reagan's own most important information regarding his curriculum vitae seems to be the comment his family enjoyed the reputation of being liars and raconteurs of imaginative stories.[7]

Reagan also likes to put forward the air of a fighter who is a master of several martial arts, and he is an arms freak. Besides 'spiritual' teachings, his students receive a training in an alleged Indian martial art. His various claims – like e.g. he was a substitute for the 1964 US Judo team and won a fourth place at the Olympics – were, meticulously and comprehensively, debunked at the website of in 2007 already. This also applies to Reagan's account of being a highly decorated soldier: from 1960, Reagan claims to have served in Vietnam, then fought Communist guerillas in Taiwan, and to have returned to Vietnam for his third year there in 1964.[8]

Reagan's knowledge of history seems to be wanting: prior to 1965, the US army had only military advisors stationed in Vietnam, while Reagan claims to have served there as a 'gunner'. Furthermore, a Communist guerilla in Taiwan only exists in his fantasy. Additionally the US army has no records of a person by the name of Harley Reagan ever having been awarded any medals or decorations. Reagan also claims to have held a world championship in Jiu Jitsu between 1967 and 1970 – but according to his own account was in hospital up to 1968 after having been wounded in action by being shot and doing a 100 ms fall out of a helicopter.[9]

It becomes quite clear that Reagan apparently is an embarassing showboater unimpressed by facts who believes no claim too absurd for an attempt to brush up his image.

Martial arts training and extremist right ideology

Deer Tribe Gun Club

From 1986 on (according to DT sites), he starts calling himself Harley „Swiftdeer“ Reagan and later on „Thunder Strikes“. In the USA, Deer Tribe has the status of a „cult and militia“.[10] Reagan teaches his students a mix of extremist right ideology, martial arts, and allegedly secret indigenous ceremonies. Reagan's students do not always mention Deer Tribe or Reagan on their sites, but make use of the catchwords of „Twisted Hairs“ and/or „Sweet Medicine Sundance Path“, as well as Chuluaqui Qoudoushka, Reagan's doctrine of supposedly spiritual sexuality.

DT in the USA also maintains a „gun club“ site [11], offers a regular arms training and publishes lists of results.[12] Reagan chose the name of „Chulukua-Ryu“ for his martial art and explains it was developed by several Indian peoples over millenia.[13] Certainly, they will not have named it with the Japanese term „ryu“.

Reagan also recommends students to train in shooting firearms and in martial arts in order to get prepared for a forthcoming 'racial war' against immigrants from Middle and South America.[14] Reagan does not explain how he is able to combine this point of view with an alleged status as Native American – especially since he claims Mayan descent -, and apparently this question is not being raised within DT, either.

Another indication for an extremist right ideology cultivated within DT is an appeal written by Reagan prior to the presidential elections in 2000, in which Reagan quite unabashedly called for DT members and militias to start armed combat in case Al Gore was elected into office.[15] In this appeal, Reagan adopts the moniker of „The Shooting Shaman“ and also signs the appeal accordingly.[16]

The US website of DT explains:

„Integrated self-defense and self-reliance, or overall preparedness, consists of three facets: self defense, survival (both wilderness and urban), and firearms training.
These series of self reliance courses was started in 1985 as the „Way of the Warrior Workshops,“ designed to promote physical mastery and presented by the Deer Tribe Metis Medicine Society (DTMMS). DTMMS was founded in 1986 by HarleySwiftDeer Reagan; he and his wife Dianne Reagan are the chief instructors. [Note to SMSD apprentices: this corresponds to the Black Lodge program.]
Currently, we offer an annual intensive training in self-defense and the safe and effective handling of firearms.“ [17]

There is, however, no detailed information at the US DT site or at the European sites regarding this Black Lodge Programme. The US site also does not mention it in their list of content, quite unlike the Red-Lodge-Programme.

Training with firearms is also not mentioned in the official description of courses offered by European DT branches. Courses in martial arts, however, seem compulsory in order to advance in the so-called 'Gateway' hierarchy of DT. One example is the seminar „Unarmed Self-Defence“ in April 2010 which explains: „The training is equivalent to the Black Lodge Standards of DTMMS and SwiftDeer Thunder Strikes; at the end of this week you will receive a certificate about 45 hours of Black Lodge training. You will be credited entirely with these hours for your self defence resp. gateway process“.[18]

Presumably DT does not want to be too precise in public statements about this part of their training. Whether the fundamentally different legislation of most European countries regarding possession of and training with firearms is observed and realized by DT remains unclear.

Apparently DT also cultivates a view of self-defence which differs considerably from the usual perception existing in martial arts:
„Current research confirms what Harley SwiftDeer has taught for over 20 years: your best option is to fight. But proper training is essential!“[19]

Once more, Reagan is not able to abstain from enhancing his merit and maintains: „These profiles, and the corresponding techniques for stopping these predators, are based on Harley SwiftDeer's thesis, which included in-person interviews of 150 imprisoned rapists and 150 rape victims, studies of actual police reports, and many years of refinement to find the most effective self-defense techniques. Most rape prevention courses in existence today are based on Harley SwiftDeer's original research (also known as psychological rape awareness and Personal Protection Awareness Training [PPAT]).“[20]

„Alternative“ Methods of Healing

At their US website, DT also promotes alternative healing methods as well as the application of 'ceremonial alchemy' [21] which does not get explained any further.

The System of Courses

At the US site at least it becomes apparent that students will enter into a system of courses building on each other, the so-called 'Gateway Process'.[22] Its first level is comprised of a four-year training of which each year has to be booked separately. The advertising text contains extensive promises regarding the personal development of students allegedly caused by the course:
„We teach you how to connect with your inner intent, to access different levels of consciousness, to enter heightened awareness, to have happiness, harmony, health, connection and meaning in your life. We teach you how you function as an energy field, and explain the building blocks and energy laws of different dimensional realities.

We want you to become an inquisitive free-thinking autonomous individual who takes responsibility for your life and lives it to the fullest. We will empower you and provide a safe journey within a circle of friends who share a desire to make a difference, to take their power and grow up into their highest potential. It is a great journey – but you must do the walking. You must have the willingness to change and make the leap into the next level of human evolution.“[23]

It is also apparent that students will be integrated into a system which facilitates their being controlled: in study groups and lodges.[24] Study groups are attributed as the „nucleus family of our tribe“, while lodges are said to be the „clans of our tribe“.[25]

At the same time, interested parties are informed what lies ahead of them if they happen to fail: „Those that are found to be valid and in alignment with sacred law are retained and added to the even growing body of knowledge. Those that do not hold up under such rigor are discarded. So it has been for millenia within these ancient traditions of learning and journeying toward human enlightenment.“[26]

Reagan and DT work with a concept of human advancement which, as the above quote reveals, is not open to every person but apparently only to an elite. This does not only cause a close bond to the system, but also admonishes failure into the realm of individual responsibility. Likewise, internal critics who have developed doubts in the system may be dismissed as 'not chosen' and 'not enlightened'.

So-called sSpiritual Sexuality

„Chuluaqui Qoudushka“, or „Qoudoushka“ - sometimes abbreviated to „Q“ by adherents – is an allegedly indigenous system of spiritual sexuality and respective rituals which is taught by DT in courses building on another.

In these courses, participants apparently are broken mentally and pushed into compliance by having to perform various forms of sexual intercourse coram publico.[27] The same article also mentions Reagan hires prostitutes for his courses when the number of male participants having booked the course exceeds the number of female participants.

Initially, Reagan declared these alleged teachings to be secret rituals of the Cherokee. When the Cherokee sharply protested Reagan's fantastic ideas, he adapted his explanation of their origins and meanwhile cites an alleged inter-ethnic medicine society, the „Twisted Hairs“: "The tradition of the Twisted Hairs on the American continent (north and south) dates back several thousands of years, and has its actual origin also in the lore of the wise of Mu, Lemuria, Mehyun, and Atlantis“.[28] Reagan and DT here fall victim to a misconception quite popular in New Age circles: the alleged existence of intertribal medicine persons or societies in Native American ethnicities.[29]

The extension of Deer Tribe


Given the outrageous theories and derivations, the historical misrepresentations, and the embarassingly transparent improvements of his curriculum vitae, it rather comes as a surprise that Reagan should have been able to attract supporters in the first place. In an interview dated June 2002, Reagan claims 5,000 followers in the USA and several European countries.[30]

A presumably official DT site informs about events taking place in Austria, Italy, and Switzerland[31], the US site additionally mentions events in Canada, and claims further DT branches in Australia, England, Norway, and Sweden.[32]

In the German speaking countries, there are several vendors offering Reagan's alleged teachings to a paying clientele.[33] „Lust und Wissen“ [lust and knowledge] e.g. cover the following issues: „Chuluaqui-Quodoushka – Spiritual Sexuality; Women Ways – women's knowledge; Body-Dearmoring; Resculpting; Being parents and assisting children; Men's Mountain Time; Calendar; Skwanesie Lodge; Circle of the Year; Open Ceremonial Days; Eagle Dance; Sweatlodge Ceremony; Paths of Life“.[34]

Vendors of DT seminars in German speaking countries are e.g.:

  • Norbert Gold aka „Batty“ Gold aka ThunderBear
  • Rose Fink aka ThunderEagle

Both are Austrian citizens and have been living at the DT HQ in Arizona for a long time before they returned to Europe. From 2001 to 2005, Gold was mentioned as an authorized signatory of Swiss foundation „Sweet Medicine Metis Sundance Foundation“; his residence was Scottsdale, USA at first.[35] Gold and Fink also organize DT seminars at the ZEGG premises at Belzig (cf. further down).
A website apparently maintained for Gold and Fink mentions Gold is active in DT since 1983, Fink since 1986.[36]

Sabina Tschudi aka Sabina Crystal Cave Dreamer and Johannes Schröder aka Johannes Star Licht Carrier [sic] (real-life name presumably Uwe Johannes Schröder) offer seminars in Switzerland and Germany, and maintain the Stardreamer Lodge. Tschudi also launched the above mentioned foundation.

Johanna Nickl aka Johanna StarCrow Nickl and Karsten Guschke aka Karsten FireFox Guschke maintain the Skwanesie Lodge which has the same postal address as ZEGG in Belzig (several websites state Guschke's e-mail address as „...@zegg...“); another person mentioned is Andrea Moonstar Mrosla.

Brigitte Kimmerle aka Gray Burro maintains the Mirrordancer Lodge and used to be in charge of the European DT site (and possibly still is, as the site is still up but does not seem to be updated too often).

Austrian Wolfram Reiter aka WolfRaven OneHeartedStandingMountain maintains the Warriors Lodge.

Cooperation with other suppliers on the esoteric market

Since a few years, several „teachers“ attached to DT organise seminars in the ZEGG premises in the town of Belzig [ZEGG = Centre for Experimental Cultural Design] which are announced as a „hosted event“ at the ZEGG website. Among these are seminars on the subject of so-called Quodoushka.[37] Cooperation with ZEGG apparently is due to certain ideological parellels in the domain of sexuality. Detailed information on ZEGG is provided by a meticulous in-depth study titled „ZEGGsismus“.[38]

Although training with firearms is not visible in the published range of items of the European DT branches, martial arts seminars seem compulsory to advance in the „gateway“ hierarchy of DT: the course description of the seminar „Unarmed Self-Defense“ in April 2010 informs interested parties: „This training corresponds to Black Lodge standards of DTMMS and SwiftDeer Thunder Strikes; at the end of the week, you will receive a certificate about 45 Black Lodge training units. These units will be fully included into your achievements as martial arts or self-defence in your gateway process“.[39]

Versions of this article in other languages


  16. There was no similar appeal when Barack Obama was voted in. According to reports, Reagan is suffering from a tumour; whether the progression of this disease is due to his silence in this matter, however, cannot be established.
  20. cf.
  24. cf.
  27. cf. an article and interview with Reagan published by Phoenix New Times in 2002:
  29. The sexual practices to which course participants are made to submit earned Reagan a nickname in the English speaking parts of Indian Country: "Swift Dick".
  31. cf.
  32. cf.
  33. e.g. , , ,
  35. cf.
  36. cf. http//
  37. e.g.: