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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Bless our Earth
Bless our Earth
Bless our Earth
Bless our Earth

- Walking mantra for an anonymous Sunbow pilgrim

Day 135 - Saturday, November 4, 1995 - We ate oatmeal for breakfast. Again. We almost always have oatmeal for breakfast, and peanut butter sandwiches for lunch. They are the staples of our walk, foods that we always seem to have

This time the oatmeal came from the government surplus food stocks given to the Kiowa, and given in turn by the Kiowa to us. Complain though we may about it, oatmeal always fills us up, and always gives us fuel for the day to keep us warm and walking onward.

After eating and cleaning up, we shuttled back toward the east to where the walk had ended its steps the day before, just outside the boundaries of the Kiowa reservation in Gotebo, Oklahoma. We piled out of the vehicles, and started walking west – as ever.


Horses and cows tend to become animated when our walk comes by. They stir, leave off from their grazing, and draw near to each other, moving toward the fences that pen them in, closer to the road so they might examine us in greater detail. Cars and trucks go by all the time, but a band of human beings on foot with songs? This is a curiosity for animals and humans.

The horses and cows watch us steadily and silently. They seem to feel, or to know something.

Over the months of the walk Scott Kecken of Baltimore has observed this, and dozens of other curious natural phenomena. His observations  inspired him to wax philosophical today: "All I know," he remarked, "is that I know nothing."


Striding onward through the day, we covered all the miles to our camp and beyond, ending up somewhere along the road in Madge, Oklahoma, just four miles from the Texas state line.

In the early part of the day we had a distant view of the Ouichita Mountains to the south across broad flat plains, which had been planted with grains, peanuts and cotton, but which now stood bare in the season after harvest.

Quartz Mountain - as seen in the distance across a field of wheat.


All of this territory where we are walking and camping in was familiar to the legendary Comanche Chief, Quanah Parker. Quanah, meaning "fragrant," was born about 1850, son of Comanche Chief Peta Nocona and Cynthia Ann Parker, a white woman.

Quanah Parker

Quanah and the Quahadi Comanche, refused to accept the provisions of the 1867 Treaty of Medicine Lodge, which confined the southern Plains Indians to a reservation, promising to clothe the Indians and turn them into farmers in imitation of the white settlers.

Knowing of past lies and deceptive treaties of the settlers, Parker decided to remain on the warpath, raiding in Texas and Mexico. Highly respected by his fellows, he never lost a battle and he was never captured. But eventually, realizing their was no alternative and having received what he regarded as a sign from spirit, he decided to surrender and lead his tribe into the white man's culture.

It was in the year 1875, riding up on a mesa, when Quanah received the sign that convinced him it was time to yield to what the inevitable incursion of white settlers and their heavily armed forces. According to biographer Bill Sturm, Quanah saw a wolf come toward him, howl and then trot away to the northeast. Overhead, an eagle soared lazily, then whipped his wings and took off in the direction of Fort Sill.

On June 2, 1875, Quanah Parker and his band of Commanches surrendered at Fort Sill in present-day Oklahoma. Parker accepted the challenge and responsibility of leading the whole Comanche tribe sensibly and skillfully on the road toward their new existence.


Back in camp at Quartz Mountain State Park that evening, I sat and spoke with Eli Fischer of Crown Heights, New York. I asked him why he joined the walk, even in the face of virulent opposition from Tom Dostou?

"Because I was told to in prayer,” Eli said. "For some time now in my meditations, I have received a clear message to prepare myself to walk. When the Sunbow 5 Walk came into Oklahoma and I learned about it, I understood immediately that this is the walk I was to join.

"I have learned a lot of about beauty and fear. I have learned how to walk prayerfully, how to make every step a prayer. I have learned to trust and to forgive. My life is in the hands of my brothers and sisters.  I know that if I do not love and trust, I die."


That night Ineke Soto and Charlotte Kitchen fell ill. In the darkness, following their moans, we found the two women away from the circle of tents, doubled up with pain, for no apparent reason. They vomited and cried out in pain.

Ned and Joe were convinced their malady was caused by a spell cast on on Ineke and Soto by a black witch. After bringing the women back into the safety of the circle, and when all us had drawn near them by the fire, Joe drummed and sang his Medicine Song. He sang it over and over and over, through the long night.

By the time dawn lit the sky with rose-tinted blushes, Ineke and Charlotte were recovered.


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 136 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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