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Ventura County Focus

Mystic in Clash Over Vehicle Registration

August 24, 1996|TRACY WILSON

David Lost Horse has lost his house.

The Ventura County Sheriff's Department seized the 1977 Dodge motor home in which the self-proclaimed Cheyenne spiritual leader lives and keeps his religious talismans, including eagle feathers, stone tools, bear claws and animal skulls.

Authorities impounded the vehicle July 1 for bearing a license plate of the Lakota nation--a collection of prairie Indian tribes--instead of California.

Now, the 46-year-old wanderer is trying to come up with the more than $800 needed to prevent the sale of his vehicle and his belongings inside.

He has filed a lawsuit against the county, the sheriff, the owner of the towing company that took the motor home and a business called the Lien Shark, which planned to sell the vehicle and its contents, according to the lawsuit.

"Many of David Lost Horse's precious, priceless artifacts that have strong religious, cultural and historical significance could possibly be lost," said Daniel J. Schmidt, his attorney, in an interview. "We had to stop that."

Lost Horse's possessions, now locked up at a Casitas Springs storage yard, were scheduled to be sold last week.

But a Municipal Court judge granted an injunction to allow the wanderer, also known as David Scott Gonzaga, time to find the money to get his belongings back. On Friday, he was given another three weeks to come up with the money.

"We are really hoping that David is able to sell enough of his Indian crafts to bail out his motor home," said Schmidt, who agreed to represent Lost Horse pro bono because he was impressed by the man's peaceful nature.

Schmidt argues that Lost Horse's vehicle registration is valid in the eyes of the Lakota national government.

In the lawsuit he also says that Lost Horse had California license plates, but they were not attached to the vehicle.

"It is simply a cultural misunderstanding and sometimes our laws have to bend a little to accommodate our cultural differences," he said.

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