Charles Keltner-Shanks Biography

Photo of Charles Keltner-Shanks at the 2007 NLL Annual Meeting
At the 2007 NLL Annual Meeting
We would like to introduce you to Charles Keltner- Shanks. Only a small number of past & present program leadership have met Charlie or know about him so we thought it a good idea to do this article.

Charlie (originally “Big Thunder”, now “Lone Eagle”) is the eldest grandson of Harold Keltner, co-founder of the original Indian Guide program. When National Longhouse (NLL) was formed in 2002, it was important for us to have the blessings of the founding families to carry on with the program legacy, started so many years ago by his grandfather and Ojibway Indian Joe Friday. Charlie was contacted by then members of NLL to tell our story and to ask for the family’s approval. He is extremely proud of his grandfather’s legacy, and honored that people still care enough to want to continue that legacy and he has been a part of NLL since then. In the several NLL annual meetings that he has attended, he has shared much of that legacy with us, opening his grandfather’s personal history to us and sharing his personal story as well.

Charlie grew up in Hamilton, IL, which is due north of St. Louis, MO, where the program was founded. He was a teacher in Washington, IA for much of his adult working career. He is now retired. Charlie has a son Mike (Little Echo), and a daughter Cara, with a son (Charlie’s grandson). He and his son Mike were in the Indian Guides program for a number of years in Washington, IA. Charlie played trumpet and later a drummer for the Ray Alburn Orchestra. He also had his own Dixieland band, The River City Jazz Band for many years. His son Mike carries on that tradition as a professional drummer. Sometimes his stories have included glimpses into the living history of the program. One such story is when Ojibway Indian Joe Friday (co-founder, who passed away in 1955) would be visiting in St. Louis and Joe being a tall 6’ 4” man would pick up the young boy and Joe would seem like such a giant to him. He also relates remembering the many hours spent sitting around the campfire in the northern woods of Wisconsin (at grandpa Harold’s cabin) being caught up in the wonderful ways of the Indian. All of this through the many stories told by grandpa. We are truly fortunate Charlie is willing to share these stories, and his own with us.

Charlie himself is a devout Christian, much like his grandfather was. He has been a licensed short wave (ham) radio operator years and currently has his own Christian ministry show. The web link to that is

In his own words… “I can tell you, my grandfather loved the Indian and certainly was honoring them through the program. I learned to understand the Indian ways and appreciate their loyalty, and obedience to God “The Great Spirit”. I understood that they never killed for pleasure. They honored each other; they didn’t steal, they lived in harmony with each other, and were close knit as a family. These are just a few of the many attributes I learned. As I grow older, I realize how basic these things are, and that God has ordained us to live just that way and a program such as the Native Sons and Daughters must be preserved. Forgive me for preaching a bit, but please be encouraged to continue on with the programs. In this day and age of fast food, and hurrying here and there, we really need to slow down and see where we are going”.

Photo of Big Thunder and Little Echo, mid 1970s
Big Thunder and Little Echo, mid 1970s
Photo of Charles Keltner-Shanks with Grandpa Harold's Bible
With Grandpa Harold’s Bible