“It is difficult for the average American, who thinks Medicine is merely swallowing a pill, to understand that Medicine does not live outside of us. Medicine is a part of Spirit that exists in, animates, and connects all of us. Spirit is life, and its healing energy is available to us if we learn to know, live, breathe, walk, and speak it.”
- Marilyn Youngbird
Day 110 - Tuesday, October 10, 1995 - The day unfolded quietly for the pilgrims in widely spread locations south of the Ozarks in Arkansas. Tom, Charlie, and Stacey remained at Hot Springs and just sat in the water soaking. The main group moved to Petit Jean State Park, where they prayed and attended to equipment repair.
Those furthest West, the Rainbow Walkers, settled in at Aux Arc State Park. They walked and prayed during the day, covering over 20 miles heading west.
To the immediate north of the pilgrims’ disparate locations, the Ozark Mountains form a plateau some 1,500 to 2,500 feet above sea level. The plateau extends with gradual phases of uplifting from Arkansas and Oklahoma northward into Missouri, Kansas, and Illinois.
Ozark Mountains - knobs along the plateau in Arkasas.
Hills along the Ozark plateau form separate peaks, or knobs, rather than continuous ridges. What many outsiders visiting here would call hills are called mountains locally. The knobs merit the name mountain if for their size then by virtue of their antiquity. Geologists say the Ozarks are one of the oldest mountain regions of the world, slowly worn down over eons by wind, water, and time.
Aux Arc State Park is down the road from the town of Ozark, and also near a big bend, or arc, in the Arkansas River. The word Ozark is said to be an alternative form of Aux Arc. The so-called Aux Arkansas, or Aux Arc Indians, were a band of the Quapaw (Ugakhpa) Nation. The Quapaw in turn are part of the larger Siouian family.
According to the popular legend, when French trappers first saw the six-foot tall natives of this region they were holding grand, beautiful hunting bows fashioned from the hedge apple, or Osage Orange -- a local tree with green fruit the size of softballs. The trappers called them the "Aux arcs," the people "with bows." But that is dubious French.
The walkers are bringing another kind of bow with them to Aux Arc, the Sunbow. This is where they will gather Wednesday evening, the three groups becoming one again. Here they will sit together in circle to talk.
As enchanting as the landscape sounds, and is, Rita Sebastian points out that there is a large nuclear power plant right in the neighborhood of Aux Arc, and also a huge hydroelectric dam.
The nuclear power plant exudes its own peculiar vibrations, and the dam profoundly alters the wild spirit of the river.
With many turtles around her, Rita sat on the bank of the river to pray Tuesday night.
The Ozark region marks the furthest western extension of the great deciduous forest that once covered the whole Eastern half of Turtle Island (North America). When the walkers are west of the Ozarks (likely this weekend), our Sunbow 5 walk will have emerged from the great Eastern forest region and stepped onto the prairie -- a prairie that extends over vast territory to the Rocky Mountains and on to the north.
Country road winds through an eastern deciduous forest.
Rita Sebastian reports as follows: "I am walking with a group of people who have adopted a stance of prayerful neutrality. We keep the sacred fire going, and make a pipe ceremony every night. We always leave a place open in the circle for all our brothers and sisters until they rejoin us.
“Take note," she said "the eagles are still with us. They fly overhead every day as we walk. They are following us and protecting us, and we are glad."
Apparently people at the end of our trail, the Western Gate at the Pacific Ocean, are concerned about our walk. The following message was posted to several Native American newsgroups on the Internet.
Subject: Sunbow 5 Walk
Haku, We share these concerns in the occupied area of California Santa Barbara. My husband has tried extensively to investigate this (Sunbow) walk, by even corresponding with its organizers.
However, we have not been completely satisfied that this is not a "new age" or "exploitation of our elders" by non-natives with alternative agendas. Perhaps your students could get us more information by hosting this group and letting us know what your feelings, observations are regarding the people involved.
Are their legitimate natives involved in the organizing? What are they saying? Who are their followers? Who, if anyone is doing ceremony of any kind? How much money is involved, and who is benefiting? This is a difficult dilemma because our elders are involved, but very often they are being exploited or they really aren't even our elders (impostors, FEDS, new agers). I am glad that your students aren't involved. I wish them much success in their struggles. Tantae, M.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 111 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire