Living with a Price on My Head

There’s trust and then there’s trust. It’s one thing to live in the understanding that that all of creation is supporting you. In theory. When it comes to the life and death experience of knowing someone, somewhere would like you killed, trusting and the lack thereof become pretty clear. 

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This is an excerpt from a much longer chapter that I’m still letting knock around in my noggin. This piece is built upon this:

I arrived in Phoenix on Sept 14, 2017. I was at the FBI office by the morning of the 18th and interviewed for two hours.  In less than three days, I had accumulated information, some of which I thought actionable, to share with federal law enforcement. The information came from my own brief research into available records for missing girls and young women near regional Indian reservations, information received by others via dream or vision, and two key understandings that came first, intuitively, and second, gelled within my head and heart like concrete.

The first was that what I quickly began to call The Fuckery was the reason I was sent to Standing Rock. The second was the understanding that The Fuckery was a network far beyond any of my initial considerations because the method behind the madness was the Sinaloa cartel.

I have mentioned before to some folks  that part of my skillset in crisis management is to ‘see’ from above, making connections between people and places that are not part of standard operating protocol. That happened. Like in other cases where we’ve been in crisis mode, this wasn’t a slow dawning of an idea, it was an instantaneous knowing, almost as vivid visually as a map. What this meant for me in the moment of awareness was that there might be more layers to what I had been sent into than I was aware of.

In addition, a few hours after I left the FBI offices, I went to the Gila River Indian Community to meet someone, a celebrated community member, to discuss an experience I had on the rez two days prior and needed the assistance of a local medicine person to help me interpret and engage with the Beings that had brought me there. In the three days I had been receiving information about missing girls and women, I had also received repeated visions and audible direction to the Gila River reservation. I went the Saturday before my FBI meeting and could not understand why I was being called there. I drove around the community–asking and watching for responses from the sky and ground. Receiving nothing, I began the trek back north. As I was approaching the reservation boundary, minding my own business, I was grabbed on the left arm by eagle’s talons. He grabbed and pulled my arm, trying to get me to go back. Y’all ever held a raptor? That weight and force is a powerful one, even if it comes in an invisible form. All I could do is apologize profusely, ask for clarity and say I would seek help to understand. 

That was my goal on September 18, 2017. To learn. So, like I always do when it comes to things like this, I began asking around. Sent to this man by his community, people who clearly loved and respected him. “He knows everybody!” “He’ll be glad to help you!” “He’s the guy. If he can’t help you, he’ll know who to send you to!” “This is above my pay grade. I know just the guy!” I shook hands with the man and, perhaps, made the mistake of giving too much information, being too honest. Instead of receiving help, I was rebuffed and threatened in a not-so-subtle way.  He made the mistake of lying to me and punctuated his lie with, “And, you could be escorted by police off the reservation if you were seen here again.” I did not need the head whip of his assistant, who’d been part of our conversation, to tell me I had shaken hands with someone who is more than a potsherder. There was no segue to that comment, no preface for it in any verbal or non-verbal communication and it resonated as a lightly veiled threat because that was the only reason for it. The moment he lied, he knew that I knew. He knew that I lied and he’d let slip that he was involved with more than potsherds across the desert.


Living with a price on one’s head is a unique experience, especially within the context of being outside a conflict zone. It’s expected in a conflict zone. It’s not expected in suburban America. The head constantly swiveling, the thoughts of pending danger accompanied by ‘maybe I’m just paranoid’, and the feeling that someone is right behind or in front of you with a weapon are exhausting. Waves of fear, anger, exasperation, and the desire to call out a fight or the finish of it all can exist in one day. All while facing the fact that the basics of daily needs must be met, often while not knowing where you’re going to lay your head at night. The mental gymnastics range from ‘This can not possibly be real’ to ‘Why bother to dust if I’m going to die?’ and long muttered sighs of ‘Fuuuuuuuuuuuck’ when the enormity lands on the heart like a 747. 

I knew for sure that I was under electronic surveillance by November 10, 2017. I did and still do not know who was tracking me by my phone in November, only that they found me at the Phoenix International Raceway at eleven o’clock at night and thought, perhaps, that by taking pictures of me in the dark, they’d scare me off.

In the moment, it was very frightening and seemed obvious to me how they’d done it but there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about it so I kept moving one foot in front of the other and figured if they were following, I couldn’t stop them. I assumed they had access to my phone because moments prior to the encounter with a very rotund driver of a Suburban, I tried to find my parked car, in the dark lot of a Nascar track with a few thousand other vehicles, by using my phone. While doing the ‘gotta pee’ dance in the dark, I noticed that my phone’s GPS had me about 60 miles east of where I actually was. It’s not entirely unusual to have GPS be wonky I know, but this wasn’t that. My eyeballs may have been ready to float but my internal vision was not clouded at all.

Minutes later, blessedly pee-free, walking farther into the camping area where I had seen communications towers, that very large man, driving a Suburban toward me slowly then turned the headlights off, and continued past to take pictures of me, making sure I could see the flash pointed in my direction. They were into my phone. Later, when I thought about it, I could connect the dots from easy access to a hotel room and a racetrack’s parking lot and knew there was nothing I could do. There was no money for a new phone and very clearly might be a need to call 911. 

Two weeks later, after I’d spent Thanksgiving Eve trying to sleep at a truck stop, I had face-to-face encounter with someone who wanted to know when I was going back to Montana. I might have chalked the fear in that brief conversation up to paranoia if the person had not left, then come back to see if I was still there. Whether he was the man who had been regularly watching me when I spent my days at a local library, I couldn’t know with certainty but each incident was a reminder that I’d stepped into something much bigger than I had thought. 

Again, these incidents inspired fear in the moment but once that moment had passed, it was gone. Keeping one foot in front of the other, driving from one place to another, scrambling for funding and lodging and food, took up so much energy that conscious fear did not have much room to operate, though my head was constantly on a swivel. Anger took it’s place with some frequency, though, and still does. I was itching for a fight, to poke a bear in the eye so he (or someone) would have to respond. After not being able to find help from local, tribal and federal law enforcement, active or retired, I reached a point where internal conversations included the knowledge that if I were killed, I had made enough noise with enough people that if I disappeared, someone would have to pay attention in a way they don’t when brown-skinned girls go missing.

Repeated sightings of the vehicles, knowing I was watched at the local library, and someone whispering “Boo!” outside a bedroom window were reminders that I always had a constant minder and had no way of knowing for whom he (or they) worked and how much of what I was experiencing was ‘twisted medicine’.

As winter in the desert progressed into 2018, I received repeated but segmented visions and interactions with the natural world indicating I was being watched. However, I had no idea until just after I learned that someone had accessed my Facebook account from a place and phone that was not mine, when I sat down with weeks worth of notes that included visions that came as and ‘Roosevelt’, as in ‘across Roosevelt’. At the time, I just happened to be living on a street called Roosevelt but ‘across Roosevelt’ as in ‘across the street’ didn’t cross (see what I did there?) my mind. I researched bridges, dams, and people and let myself go to everywhere but the obvious.

Not coincidentally, an invisible energy repeatedly tapped on the bedroom window and I’d look out to see a roadrunner run from my side of the street to the other. For days, I didn’t get it. I said hello to the roadrunner and, like Wiley, was stumped. One morning, during the roadrunner visitation, I heard whispered into my ear, “Fif-f-f-f tee” and two other numbers that was read out like an address. So I went looking through Google maps for local addresses that matched 50__. It took me three weeks and a string of other visions to realize that what I heard as ’fifty’ could also be ’fifteen’. It was right about then that I put together ‘across Roosevelt’ and ’15__’ and the words ‘600 ft’. I went back to the map and entered in the house number and watched the Google map pin drop. It immediately pulled up the address ‘across Roosevelt’. I got out of the bed, knees shaking, and looked out the window. From that address to the one where I’d resided since just after Christmas, was a clear line of sight, 600 feet away. 

I tried to put on something of a cheerful front and suggested that I might go knock on the door, pretending to sell cookies for the local cheerleading squad. I never worked up the courage for that kind of confrontation and paranoia did begin to creep in. I wondered if someone had actually been able to access the house and see or hear us from inside, if an Airbnb guest had been one of the people watching me. One evening shortly after, my host and I decided to drive by the house. “Let’s just see.” When we did, I felt like someone had poured a septic tank over me and I accidentally swallowed effluent. It was the foulest thing I’d ever felt.

A week later, I experienced fear in a way I never have. Other people might use the phrase ‘panic attack’ but this was not that. This was an overbearing, heavy sense of dread and impending death that weighed as much as the house I was in and inspired my legs to run, for hours. I wanted to run as far away from the desert as I could possibly get. That was the only manifestation of the fear, there was nothing usually associated with a panic attack. I wanted to run but was steeped in this quicksand of both dread and the clear understanding that I was not going to walk away from these women and girls; I could not. It was only in a late afternoon phone call when a friend said to me, “Ingrid, this is not you. You’re not like this, you’re not this. You don’t operate this way.” The second she said that, it lifted; quicksand fell away and I moved from fear into rage. I was exquisitely enraged that someone had masterfully manipulated me and that I had no clue until, like a prince’s kiss, Melissa’s words brought me back to my own senses. I resolved again to not walk away from the situation I was in. Whoever these people were they kept wanting to scare me away but what were they afraid of? Why not just come for me? Since they did not, did that mean the observers were not the cartel? Were they the bushel of law enforcement bad apples? Were they bad guys that knew the feds were watching me, too? Or, were they more curious than the feds about who was giving me information? Were they thinking that if they watched or listened long enough they would find an internal source, a mole within their own group?

Following that episode, three weeks of visions, repeating the theme of leaving were punctuated by scenes of me being hunted and ended with a visual flash of the ‘final hunt’. The last clear sign to I needed to leave was, among other things, a glowing EXIT sign placed in the lower left corner of the visual field—EXIT stage left. When I woke up the next morning I was greeted with the audible “Do your laundry,” making it clear that I was not leaving in a panic, that there was no need for fear. I sipped coffee, did my laundry, packed the suitcase into the car and left without saying a word to my host. I drove to Walmart, dropped my phone in a garbage can, bought a cheap one and began driving north. Trying to put as much distance between myself and the desert as I could, I didn’t stop until I nearly ran out of gas, at which point, I pulled over and let loose gasping sobs. Flooded with grief and guilt for leaving, shame in doing it in the fashion I did, I had run out of gas in the same way my car did yet I had to keep moving. By the second night, when I’d made it to Salmon, Idaho—one of the most gently beautiful places I know—the dreams and visions were all about me escaping in the nick of time. The most graphic image given was that of a noose missing my neck ‘by this much’. I woke up in a cold sweat and sat in an ugly florescent-lit bathroom, shaking and sobbing, muscles and mind losing their shit. There may not have been a need for fear but it was there, front and center. I fully believed that I had narrowly escaped death and it made me even more grateful that the Salmon River Mountains had wrapped themselves around me. 

Leaving the desert did not end the information flow or threat level. It merely broadened the knowledge and connections to The Fuckery in Montana and beyond . Visitations that others had in dream and waking life brought messages of, “Someone’s trying to smoke you out!” The disappearances of Ashley Loring-Heavy Runner and Jermaine Charlo and the involvement of regional law enforcement personnel were constant reminders that although I didn’t have ‘minders’ physically around me (or so I thought), there was no getting away from what I was in the midst of. Being given the business card of a FBI agent from Tucson and told, “He’s the one who sold you out,” and the amount my death was worth sent me into a spiral of anxious depression and anger that fueled an energy with nowhere to go. There was no one to whom I could express what was happening, no one who would engage with me, no one who would ask if I was okay. I was literally beside myself with knowing that there was a $50,000 price on my head. Since then, I’ve been told that price has doubled. 

A brief move to Wichita, Kansas, did not change the level of intensity. The woman I was living with at the time bought me a new phone because we were both told mine was tapped and that someone was key logging my laptop. I was followed through Safeway and ate dinner in the same restaurant, at the same time, as someone who knew enough to check my photograph online to make sure the woman he saw was actually me, a person he did not expect to see. I turned the tables on the man following me at Safeway walking right past him, staring at his face until he was forced to turn away. I was not aware of the diner who must have enjoyed the Paki-Indian buffet as much as I did until a day later. Then, I made the mistake of calling a cop I knew in Montana with the new phone. I had called to see if there was an update on a murder case I had been involved in while in Helena in 2017 and 2018. This cop was the one who shared a part of a conversation that a colleague had had with an FBI agent in Phoenix three months prior: “Someone is telling Ingrid way too much.” I knew as soon as I hung up, I had made a mistake and that my phone number had gone to someone I did not want it to go to, at least not involuntarily. If the FBI wanted to talk to me, they could reach me anytime the same way other folks do: just ask. However, they chose not to go that route. 

I fled Wichita after two months, a situation made more uncomfortable by an estranged friendship, I landed in Denver where, after a fit of pique, I was directed to the San Juan Mountains. I last unpacked a suitcase in October 2019 and this is the longest I’ve been in one physical location since October 2013, when I intentionally made myself homeless. The ravages from six years of constant movement were alleviated by sanctuary where, even as things move around me, I felt safe enough to unfold wrinkled clothes and my folded body. 

Until a couple of months ago. At midnight, I was awakened by an invisible visitor and shoved out of the bed by a strength far greater than I with clear instructions to turn on the lights. I did not why but after I’d cursed at the same energy for waking me up earlier and I wasn’t going to question him again. So I got up and turned on the lights. And waited. And waited. And crawled back into bed with one eye open and both ears twitching toward any sound. Finally, four hours after being shoved out of bed, a car came by, very slowly. I live in an alley. No one comes down this alley at 4AM, certainly not driving as slowly as this driver was. The accumulating information about other local law enforcement connections to this spider-webbed network, the knowledge that someone had the key code to my apartment months ago, a dust devil at the door, the arrival of Frank Fools Crow, and the along with knowing that the reward for my dispatch has at least doubled, brings any tucked away fear back to the fore. Despite assurances from others that “It’s fine, Ingrid”, “You know you’re protected”, the fear abides. It’s  debilitating, no longer in the background, it is alive in the belly and has paralyzed it. The head swivels, the body jumps at all the noises, and we are so, so tired.

I’ve assumed that both groups of people that had an interest in and believe the information I receive both sought to know from whom I receive so much information because I can’t possibly be telling the truth about how it comes to me. I have also assumed that those that have the price on my head know that there is interest from others they don’t want to tangle with.

The FBI can legally surveil US citizens if they believe that the party being surveilled is part of a RICO investigation or if their life is in danger. At least initially, there was merely a supervisor’s signature and I can’t imagine a federal judge signing a surveillance warrant for, say, a psychic lady who ‘someone tells way too much’. 

They know where I am. 

They know me.

I don’t know them. 

 

There’s trust and then there’s trust.

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