The movie was released in 1971, over twenty years before I was born. The first time I saw it I was 18-years-old on "Movie Night" deep in the Everglades in a chickee with my new husband Nokosee Osceola and his family. It's the first time I saw Busimanolotomee Osceola, my hardass, monosyllabic father-in-law and founder of the New Seminole, cry. I don't know if he ever read Frankl, but I do know he had surprisingly eclectic tastes in reading so I wouldn't be surprised if he did. I do know he loved Billy Jack,* having taken on his persona more than once in front of me by quoting and behaving like him. I also suspect he raised Nokosee, the "First of the New Seminole," to be a living, breathing karate-kicking Billy Jack. Unfortunately, Busi, as I came to call him affectionately, didn't get a grand sendoff like Billy did. (Spoiler Alert: Stop here if you haven't read Book Two). He died before my eyes, a gruesome death shared by only him and me. I will never forget it. I was pregnant, about to give birth when Army Rangers attacked us on a moonless night deep in the Everglades. We put up a good fight but a bunch of ragtag renegades-on-the-run aren't no match for overwhelming professional soldiers and their Blackhawk helicopters. Nokosee and I split up after I got shot. He tried to divert enemy fire while his father carried me through the Everglades jungle, bullets whizzing by all around us. They won that night but Nokosee and I were able to find each other and escape. And Hallie, our baby girl, was born moments later hidden among the sawgrass.
The other thing I will never forget is the last thing Busi said to me, his last words ever: “Ooshtayke...” Daughter.
*Click here for a unique look at Billy Jack's creator, Tom Laughlin. Apparently he isn't much different than Busi Osceola.