Waving flags mark Soaring Eagle#039;s ground

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 14, 2004

ROME TOWNSHIP - Multitudes of flags waving in the wind at the Lawrence County Fairgrounds seem to serve as a reminder of the Native American headdress once worn by a one-legged man with the Native American birth-name of Soaring Eagle.

Soaring Eagle is trying to make money at the upcoming Lawrence County Trade Days & Flea Market to be able to afford his medicine - which costs approximately $400 per month.

Soaring Eagle is the Native American name for Jack W. Ray, who is calling the county fairgrounds near Proctorville his home until Monday.

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Ray lives in a camper that serves as his business to help pay for his medication. He will be selling his displayed flags, hand-made wallets, jewelry, automobile plates and other novelty items at the monthly fairground trading post and flea market, scheduled to begin Friday.

In 1978, Ray was cruising along

State Route 235 in Lakeview on his brand-new Harley Sportster when a drunken driver ran over him.

"It ruined my life at the time, but I began working again and realized I still had reasons to be living," Soaring Eagle said.

Before the accident, Soaring Eagle had been a spray-painter for 15 years at the Superior Coats School bus Factory at Lima.

The 65-year-old Native American said one of his items for sale will be a novelty automobile license plate that reads - "I'm an Indian & Proud of it." Soaring Eagle still makes leather wallets, but arthritis keeps him from providing custom designs on the wallets.

Soaring Eagle was born in Apache Junction, Ariz., the son of a full-blooded Native American woman and his "white" father. He sells his goods year-round in eight states and now considers Dayton his hometown.

The Native American makes his camper into a vendor's selling booth by setting the booth up by himself - a process that takes him two days to complete.

"I do not see myself as handicapped. I'm just a one-man operation and it takes longer to set up," he said, "I'm an Indian, I'm alone, I'm happy."

Frank Call, the trade days/flea market manager, said Soaring Eagle has been a part of the event

for about six years.

"We call him 'Chief,'" he said. "He'll talk to you."

Anyone may visit with the "Chief" this weekend - just look for the waving flags.