"By Jove the stranger and the poor are sent,
And what to those we give, to Jove is lent."
Day 123 - Monday, October 23, 1995 - "Today was a really powerful day," Joe Soto told me when we checked in by phone. "In relays we walked about 42 miles from Shawnee to the outskirts of Norman. We had everything going for us."
In the early part of the day a man from Shawnee named Fletcher traveled with the group for seven miles in his wheelchair, with the assistance of pushes from various walkers.
When Fletcher was done with his day-long contribution to the Sunbow pilgrimage, he declared it to be "the best day I've ever had in my whole life."
As Joe explained it to me, Fletcher does not get out of the house much. He had never really seen the landscape around his home, or even a cow, until his jaunt down the highway with Sunbow 5 on Tuesday, chanting and drumming all the way.
"We felt it was one of our best days, too," Joe said. "Fletcher was warm and funny, and a wonderful human being. He made us all laugh at ourselves."
Sunbow 5 base camp moved from Shawnee onward about seven miles west of Lake Thunderbird along Route 9 to the Whispering Pines Bed and Breakfast.only ten minutes from the University of Oklahoma campus and Lake Thunderbird State Park.
Grandfather Commanda has a comfortable room in the large, Victorian-style house. The rest of the walkers have their tents pitched outdoors on the 20 acres of land. As advertised, there are large, beautiful pine trees, gardens, footpaths, and a serene pond. From their campsite, the walkers have access to a sizable, carpeted utility building, with a sink, refrigerator, and stove.
Innkeepers Ray and Nancy Harden have been remarkably kind. The walk will probably keep its base here Tuesday and Wednesday nights as well.
Rita Sebastian visited the Shawnee Medical Center on Monday for minor surgery. About two weeks ago she stepped on a piece of glass while barefoot, and a shard lodged in her foot. She could not get it out, but kept walking anyway. Finally, the problem could no longer be ignored. A sharp scalpel and a surgeon's skillful hand soon excised the shard. Rita will rest the foot for several days, and then get back on the road.
In the late afternoon the walkers took the Absentee Shawnee up on an invitation to stop by for food and drink, and to sit a spell. They spent several hours visiting with the Governor (Chief), Tim Blanchard.
One interesting part of the visit, according to walker Charlie Commando, was exchanging languages. The Algonquin, Abenaki and Arawak languages, in which some of the walkers are fluent, have striking similarities to the Shawnee language. Through the language exchange, they found they are indeed relatives.
In general, the response of the almost all the Native nations the Sunbow 5 Walk has visited has been positive.
"They tell us that it's about time someone was doing this walk," Charlie Commando observed. "They tell us that it has been time for quite some time. They love meeting Grandfather Commanda, and learning about the Seven Fires Wampum Belt."
Indian culture was, and is, a defining thread in the cultural tapestry of Oklahoma. For a long time Oklahoma was untouched by the advancing throngs of European settlers, and the consequences of "Manifest Destiny" -- the widely held idea that it was God's will for newcomers to spread all the way west to the Pacific Ocean, and to take the land for themselves.
For many years after the 1803 "Louisiana Purchase," the tide of westward movement impelled by "Manifest Destiny" surged around Oklahoma's boundaries, unable to penetrate legally to take the land
|An Oklahoma snapping turtle -The turtle nation carries many important lessons for their relatives, the human beings. Turtle is the oldest symbol for planet Earth, a personification of the eternal Mother from which our lives evolve. Turtle asks us to honor the Earth by being mindful of the cycle of give and take.
Beginning in the 1830s and 1840s, this Indian Territory became a vast reservation for the displaced Southeastern Indians -- the last stop on their infamous Trail of Tears.
Shawnees, Delawares, Kickapoos, Senecas, Ponca, Pawnees, Otos, Missouris, Iowas, Sauks, Foxes, Potawatomis, Arapahoes, Apaches, Wichitas, Kiowas, Commanches, were dumped here told to find a way to live. Their descendants have married and married and intermarried Their spirit still pervades the territory.
In 1889 the U.S. federal government began to open the territory for officially sanctioned settlement. Thousands of homesteaders moved in via the land rushes.
|Pumps draw slick black oil frm the breast of Mother Earth, and convert it into money and climate-chaning pollution to power the industrial world.
But it was in 1897 that the floodgates really began to swing wide. That's when the state's first commercial oil well was drilled, and money began to bubble up from the ground in slick black drops.
A new and more disruptive boom got underway -- the oil craze making millionaires overnight. Many thousands more people swarmed into the region looking for land and for oil riches.
Ten years later, in 1907, Indian Territory and all it implied was shoved out of existence and into the the history books. Oklahoma became the 46th state.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 124 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire