"My grandfather, Red Jacket (Sagoyewatha) offered simple teachings. For example, each person should ask himself or herself four important questions that can serve as guides.
'Am I happy in what I am doing? Is what I am doing going to add to the confusion in the world? What am I doing to bring about peace and contentment? And, how will I be remembered when I am gone?"
- Yehwenode (Twylah Nitsch)
Day 57 - Friday, August 18, 1995 - By the shore of Lake Junaluska in the far west of North Carolina, the walkers maintained their camp for the day and the night.
During the morning some of the walkers were driven back up the road toward Asheville, and dropped off. Then they walked the rest of the way to the camp to complete the mileage they had been unable to walk on Thursday. It was hot again, exceedingly hot.
An Asheville TV station (Channel 7) sent a crew out, and they taped a report on the Sunbow 5 Walk. It's scheduled to air on the evening news.
At sunset, near the shore of the lake, Tom Dostou, Ned Pashene, and Joe Soto led all the walkers in a pipe ceremony to pray for the Sacred Hoop: all the people, plants, and animals, who are part of our world.
Along about mid-August the slant of sunlight becomes altogether different. The Sun casts a golden glow over the Earth that grows all the more wonderful as summer wanes.
Such was the character of the sunlight far to the north today, where in the afternoon I slipped out of the Sunbow 5 Walk office at my home in New Ipswich, New Hampshire. I drove about five miles to the east to sit in council with three native elders at the Mettanokit Community in Greenville.
The gathering was hosted by my dear friend and neighbor, Manitonquat (Medicine Story), elder and storyteller, Assonet Band of the Wampanoag people. Among his guests were Slow Turtle, the Massapowau (Supreme Sachem) for the Wampanoag; and Hollis Little Creek, pipe and flute maker, Martin Clan, Red Lakes Band, Anishinabe.
I found all the elders out back, behind Manitonquat's house, relaxing in a field. They were perched on rickety old lawn chairs, basking in the late-summer warmth. They had been passing the afternoon quietly -- telling stories and jokes, and observing the slant of the golden light. I shook hands all around, and then sat on the grass.
Time went by. We were quietly enjoying each other's company and the afternoon. Then -- swiftly, silently, stunningly -- an eagle glided over the field, maybe just 25 or 30 feet up above us. The great bird was sailing smoothly on a steady breeze from east to west. I felt the eagle's shadow coming and my eyes shot up in amazement. An eagle in Greenville, New Hampshire? Yes. An eagle.
I saw the eagle moving swiftly on the wind directly over the heads of the three native elders. I saw the eagle look down upon the elders. Then the great bird continued gliding, off over the trees at the edge of the field and out of sight.
I sat and listened to the elders talk. They asked me tell some of the unfolding story of our Sunbow 5 Walk. They thought about it for a while.
"Walking is good. Prayer is good," Hollis Little Creek finally observed. "But I want you to know that that's not enough. People also need to do something real here on Earth, and they need to do it now. If we continue to do the same things that we are doing now and to do them in the same way, then we are going to disappear. That's a prophecy, a definite prophecy that comes from my people.
"We need to learn to take care of ourselves with respect," Hollis said. "We need to learn to grow something, learn to make something, learn to gather what you need from nature. If you do that, the Earth will take care of itself."
Slow Turtle added his view. He said he has to sit at a desk a lot during the week, for he serves as Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. "I have a little sign on my desk," he said, "and it reads, 'Ignorance is reversible; stupidity is forever.'
"So think about that. We don't discourage change, innovation, or technology," he said, "but we do ask people to think about the kinds of change they are making, and the effects that change will have on the future for generations to come. That's important, but it gets overlooked a lot nowadays."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 58 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire