“Curiosity does, no less than devotion, pilgrims make”
- Abraham Cowle
Day 17 - Sunday, July 9, 1995 - Awakening in various apartments and rooftops on the Lower East Side, the walkers ate a quick breakfast and then set out to rendezvous at UN headquarters in preparation for departing New York City.
At the UN plaza, just after 9 AM, the walkers met and bid farewell to Grandfather Commanda and Ned. They are headed back to Canada today, while the Sunbow pilgrims will walk south to New Jersey.
Ned -- a stout Naskapi Cree man with jet-black hair and a wispy moustache -- has vowed to come back from Canada to rejoin the walk. Because Grandfather is not robust enough to walk our estimated 3,700-mile route, Ned has pledged to walk for him.
Ned says he will rejoin the walk on July 20 just north of Baltimore, Maryland. "I will walk for Grandfather," he told me over the phone. "I will walk for him, and I will walk -- as all the other walkers are -- for all the people of all the nations and all the spiritual traditions of our earth. I can help to carry the indigenous teachings, so people who want to know can learn. I will go all the way with my brothers and sisters."
After taking in the view of Manhattan's smog-blurred skyline, the walk traversed the great great city and then much of Staten Island. It was a hard day of walking. The pavement was unyielding; the surrounding traffic was loud and continually belched a syrup-thick exhaust to clot the humid air. The walkers had trouble breathing. To contend with all of this some members of the walk walked faster, some slower. Again they got separated. With no coordinating plan, with no means of communication, the walkers soon strung themselves out all over the city streets.
|Manhattan skyline - On a polluted day. (Photo by Christopher Chan, courtesy of flckr.com).
As the day grew late, the walkers burned time and energy finding each other. Come nightfall, lacking any invitation to shelter, the walkers ate what snacks they had, then stretched out to sleep, alone and weary, beneath the stars on a nameless (at least to them) beach on Staten Island.
Staten Island is one of the five boroughs of New York City, the “forgotten borough.” When the Dutch arrived on this island shore, the Lenape Indians lived hereabouts in large numbers. The Lenape told the Dutch that their name for the island was Eghquaons -- a word descibing place of high, sandy banks. But in 1609 Henry Hudson decided to give the land a European name and called it Staaten Eylandt.
Gayil Nalls, an artist who lives back in Manhattan, and who has supported the walk from the time of its planning, called to tell me that she is resigning from the Board of Directors for the Sunbow 5 Foundation.
Gayil said she is resigning because she is concerned about Tom's temperament, his deportment, and his mysterious handling of the walk's finances. She told me she has seen Tom lose his temper several times with other people over seemingly insignificant things, and that Tom became angry at her when she -- as a member of board -- inquired about how he was handling the walk’s money. Tom got all fired up and told her it was none of her business.
In our phone conversation, Gayil told me she couldn’t accept legal and fiduciary responsibility for the walk if Tom would not let her know what is happening with the money that comes into his hands.
Gayil’s resignation leaves the Sunbow 5 Foundation with only four board members: Tom Dostou and his wife Naoko Haga, John Heyman, and me.
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 18 - Odysssey of the 8th Fire