“Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only life can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.
“The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.”
- Martin Luther King, Jr.
Day 133 - Thursday, November 2, 1995 - We maintained our base camp at the Kiowa Reservation in Carnegie on this cool, cloudy day, sending most of our pilgrims out on the road to walk. There was talk in camp of how the nights are becoming seriously cold. Winter is coming steadily on, there’s no mistaking it when you are outdoors all day, and then crawling into an unheated tent at night to sleep. We must make preparations now.
Three walkers took our little blue truck, Bess, to Anadarko to purchase a surplus Army shelter -- an old hexagonal tent with room for 10 people. It is also capable of accommodating a small wood stove, so people can stay warm against the bite of winter nights.
|Buffalo hunters - In centuries past the Kiowa peoples were nomadic buffalo hunters who roamed the West. After the Medicine Lodge Treaty of 1867, they were forced to settle on reservations.
We are being fed and supplied beautifully by the Kiowa Nation, which has opened its food storehouse to us, and shown us every kindness imaginable.
Other walkers accompanied Michael Nicholson to pick up a large blue metal horse trailer being donated to the walk by Karen Fletcher. Karen is an old friend of Michael's mom, Three Rivers. The trailer Karen donated will accommodate all our food and cooking gear, becoming our mobile kitchen towed behind Michael's GMC truck.
Kiowa elder Iron gifted us with medicine from a special grove of cedar, and also some face paint. He said that he made a special trip to the Crystal Mountains yesterday. He knows of a sacred grove of trees, and he had gone there with prayer offerings to gather these medicines for our walk.
|Sacred medicine - a shoot of needles from a cedar tree.
Cedar is considered one of the Four Sacreds in Native America, along with sage, sweet grass, and tobacco. The burning of these medicine plants makes a cleansing ritual smoke.
As the smoke rises, it is understood, the prayers that are intended with them also rise to the Spirit World, where they are heard. Negative energy, feelings, and emotions are lifted away. Cedar is also used for healing of mind, body, and spirit, as well as balancing energies.
Native elders teach that all ceremonies must be entered into or begun with good intent. Smudge from the Sacreds helps to cleanse body, mind, emotion, and spirit, thus preparing the people for ceremony.
Smudging is also used to purify and bless the Earth, as well as special objects or totems, such as drums, rattles, and ceremonial clothing. Cedar is understood to attract positive energy, and emotions.
In the evening we all came together in a council circle in the Kiowa gymnasium. We met alone, just the walkers, to address our own problems and concerns. Tom showed up for the circle with Lauren Keahbone, and his allies Charlie and Stacey
In a short span of time the meeting degenerated into a nasty fight, with lots of shouting and cursing. Our group had not, until this night, confronted Tom in a unified way about all the issues that had come up over the last several months. There was a great deal of anger built up, and it boiled over. There were heated accusations that Tom was doing a lousy, unspiritual job as head man, that he had not been honest with the walk's money, that he was a bully, and that his new friend Lauren was a witch working black magic against the walk.
Tom and his allies fired back. They pointed out everyone else's shortcoming and failings, tagging pretty near everyone for a hypocrite, including me. Tom said that I had broken my marriage vow by having a relationship, and that therefore I was no better than anyone else, and had no right to question his leadership or ethics. He said I didn't belong on the walk. Then he moved on to others. Soon we were all flinging mud. Soon we were all neck deep in it.
If we had been on reality TV, the show might well have been called “People Going Poisonous.” We were brutal to one another, dragging ourselves down to a low point in our spiritual pilgrimage to bring peace, harmony, and respect to the world. No one comported himself or herself with dignity this night. Our demons and furies were unleashed. We all raged, and the night ended badly with still-seething anger. Tom stormed off with Lauren and Charlie and Stacey, and the rest of us stewed and muttered.
Our evening circle in the Kiowa gym was, for all intents and purposes, our own personal "Ground Zero." All the divisive elements within our Sunbow 5 walk exploded, as if we ourselves had been packed with tons of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel.
When souls undertake a demanding spiritual endeavor, especially an endeavor that engages the outside world, those souls, those people, are under tremendous physical, emotional, and psychic duress. It is inevitable that they will be tested and that each individual's shadows and weaknessess will rise to the surface. Life issues are churned up as a matter of spiritual inevitability. This night was the hour of inevitability for us.
Joe and Ned got on the phone to Grandfather Commanda late at night, before turning in. They told him what had happened, and that none of us wanted to follow Tom as head man any further. Grandfather listened, and said he was confused and saddened, greatly troubled. He told us to get some rest, to cool off, and to keep praying. He said he would pray for us even harder than he has been doing.
|Face to face - An example of Kiowa "ledger art" from the 1800s. While the Kiowa were restricted from their nomadic life, but before being forced to settle on reservations, they drew images on pages from old financial ledgers.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 134 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire