Odyssey of the 8th Fire is the true tale
of an epic pilgrimage for the Earth
across North America

by people of all colors and faiths.

  - A creative non-fiction book in online evolution - ◊
© - 2007 by Steven McFadden

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"Decide what you want to do. Whatever you like to do best is exactly the thing you are fitted for…Be diligent and decent…

“…The greatest rewards in life come from living outside and beyond one’s self…The greatest qualities a man can have are simplicity and humility.”         
                                                                   - Alfred P. Murrah

Day 129 – Sunday, October 29, 1995 - Our prayer walk for this day began at Wiley Post Park. From there, with about 100 people, we headed off toward the heart of Oklahoma City, stepping along over many shattered sections of pavement, singing and drumming all the way.

Sacred Walk - The Sunbow 5 pilgrims and supporters start out from Wiley Post Park in Oklahoma City. Grandfather Commanda is in the center, wearing a purple ribbon shirt and holding his cane. Author photo, 1995.

Our drums and our chants resounded off the buildings as we made our way to the site of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, a building named after a man who had arrived in town a 13-year old homeless orphan hitching a ride on a freight train, and who had risen by the age of 32 to become a respected judge. At the bomb site the gates were held wide open to accommodate our group.

Front Page News - Our Sunbow pilgrimage made the front page of the Daily Oklahoman newspaper after we walked to the bomb site to make ceremony.

We entered the bomb site silently and gathered, walkers, families and officials. We sat in the depression, the crater, formed by the bomb and the later demolition of the building’s wreckage. As we looked around we saw bits of concrete rubble and glinting specks of glass.

As we settled in forming two concentric circles, we also encountered shock and grief, as if they were hardening clots of emotional lava. The psychic tone of the place was dense, eerie, sorrowful, and it permeated every moment and every interaction the whole time we were on site.

Albert Janco, an official with the local Native American office of HUD, made brief remarks to open the ceremony: "I know that the Sunbow walk was planned and routed through Oklahoma City well before the April 19th explosion. There was, in your hearts, already a realization of the need to come here before the tragedy. We are so very glad you have walked to Oklahoma to be with us."

Entering the bomb site - the Sunbow 5 pilgrims walk into the crater that remained after the Oklahoma City federal building was demolished. Author photo, 1995.


In the circle, in the midst of all that feeling, Tom also took a turn speaking. "We, too, each will go some day,” Tom said. “The time, for each of us, is short. Why waste it on hate, anger and violence? We are told that we have one more chance to make it right, one more chance for our children.

"You either act with love and peace, or you act with hate and anger,” he said.

When Tom spoke those words I glanced around the circle at the other walkers, and they all looked as surprised as I felt at hearing him make that statement. After everthing that has happened over the last several months, sitting in this place of profound sorrow, that part of his message rang hollow.

“The clear message is all around us," Tom continued. "It's in the shattered bricks, the twisted steel, and the shards of glass. This is our future unless we turn ourselves around."

"In 100 years,” Tom concluded, “this bombing can be a moment that our great grandchildren will look back upon, and think to themselves: “That was what we could have become. But it didn’t happen. We stopped hating, we started loving, and we turned it all around. Today is a good day to begin. Meegwich, Gitchee Manitou."


Ann Shadlow took steps with us today. She is an 86-year-old grandmother from Oklahoma City, of Cherokee and Sioux heritage. She mentioned that in 1986 she had been chosen as the American Indian Woman of the Year for her accomplishements.

With the help of two friends, Grandmother walked for about 100 yards at Wiley Post Park, then climbed into a car and rode downtown to meet the walk at the bomb site, and to participate in the ceremony.

Once an active tribal dancer and story teller, Grandmother Shadlow said she could only walk a short distance with us, but that she understood that every step taken together helps contribute to the overall healing. "I wanted to do my part," she said, "to offer my blessings."


Pipe smoke patterns -- Prayers made visible.

The pipes came out toward the end of the afternoon. All the pipe carriers—Tom and Ned and Joe and Grandfather and several of the native Oklahomans who were there—made preparations.

While a pipe-filling song was sung, the pipes were packed then lit. In a sunwise manner, the pipes were carried around the circle for all who wished to take the smoke and make the breath of their prayer visible, a puff of warm smoke drifting up above the bomb site to carry a sacred thought in a sacred manner.

Tom told me that late in the afternoon that, as he was entering the Red Earth Museum for a Sunbow reception, he saw a vivid sunbow in the western sky.


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 130 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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Odyssey of the 8th Fire Copyright © 2006-2008 by Steven McFadden