“A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.”
- Joseph Campbell
Day 144 - Monday, November 13, 1995 - Walking along the service road parallel to Interstate 40, arm in arm, 25 Sunbow pilgrims crossed the state line from Texas into the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico.
The Sun was shining, and the walkers were in strong spirits. Our journey across the Texas panhandle has been healing. In addition to gaining much needed rest we have equipped ourselves for the winter with a chuck wagon (a converted horse trailer), and two Army surplus winter tents and stoves. More importantly, we are of one mind and one heart. With Tom and his allies elsewhere, there are no controversies, no arguments to split us.
Our walk is strong now. The causes of confusion, abuse, and disunity are gone. There is no separation between Red and White, women or men, elders and youths. The walkers are well and happy, and enjoying the blessings of many powerful spiritual currents.
All people who have been harmed emotionally, mentally, or spiritually in any way by the walk are being invited to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a reconciliation and healing council that will begin the day after Thanksgiving. The council will include the Rainbow Walkers (the four women and one man who split off from the walk in Arkansas). They have already expressed their interest in meeting for reconciliation. Tom is also invited to participate. I will journey to the Albuquerque council as well, fom my home in New Hampsire.
Base camp was moved ahead of the walk on to Tucumcari. The walk itself will reach this eastern New Mexico city on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Tucumcari Mesa - A distinctively shaped mesa near Tucumcari, New Mexico.
E-mail Subject: Postcard from Texas
From: Shane Caraveo
It's been a while since I've posted. I had promised to write about my time on the walk last month, and about the division in the walk, but decided to lay off for a while and let time give me some perspective.
I just received a postcard from Sherry Noser in Texas. She says they (Rainbow Walkers) are all doing fine. For those who don't know who Sherry is, she has been on the walk the whole way since New York City, and is now walking in the smaller group with Alycia, VaLaine and Clayton, all of who have been on the walk from the start.
So I'll start from the start. After I left my first trip to the walk in July, my life kind of got jumbled around a lot. But I finally got it all together and got on a bus back to the walk, meeting them in Memphis. I met them at the Martin Luther King Civil Rights Museum. We spent several days in Memphis, visiting schools and churches, and being tourists...
...We left Memphis via a boat across the Mississippi, where the walkers poured a bucket of ashes from prayer rituals so that the prayers would reach all the shores of the earth. Then we walked along the Trail of Tears on the other side to our campground, where we stayed for two nights. You could see watermarks on everything, showing how much the area had flooded the previous year. The watermarks were about 15-20 feet above ground level.
Over the next week, we walked into Little Rock, Arkansas. The most memorable thing is the amount of road kill there was. Every 20 feet or so was a dead animal. But even more interesting, it seemed every day had a different animal. One day it was frogs (represents cleansing), the next snakes (transmutation, fire), armadillos, opossums (diversion, strategy), and even a couple of hawks (messengers).
During this time I could see the division in the people on the walk, and that got worse the closer to Little Rock we got. There were arguments, and most nights circles weren't held. I found out later that it had been this way for some time before Memphis.
The night we got into Little Rock, a very significant thing happened. We had a very hard time finding a place for the walkers to stay. Tom had been looking all day, and had been turned away every place. Running Fawn, who was going to be doing the looking, was stuck some ways back with a broken-down car. A place was finally located, and at the end of the day we finally made it there, only to see a storm moving in on us. Everyone was busy trying to get set up before it started raining. You could see a wall of dark cloud bearing down on us very quickly.
I was in the middle of setting up my tent, when all of a sudden a terrible gust of wind hit us. To give you an idea how strong it was, a tent with 10-inch spikes was pulled out of the ground, and the corners of the tarp over it were ripped. Tents were rolling away everywhere, and a branch fell on one tent, breaking its poles. Lucky no one was in it. I of course didn't get my tent set up, and it and I (along with many others) got completely drenched in the following rain. Many of us stayed in a hotel that night.
The next morning it was decided we would do a fast at the capitol in Little Rock. At first it was going to be until President Clinton came to visit with the walk. Then, it changed to being just for a few days. This divided the group severely.
Many saw it (and I too) as a political/publicity thing. Others didn't see any difference between the political and spiritual (is it spiritual to let a political body destroy the earth?) I can see their point, but still didn't feel right about it for myself. I feel the whole idea was brought out of the frustration of being turned down everywhere we went. After holding a circle, the idea of it changed enough, that most people joined in, or lent support for it. That night we moved to another site where we stayed for three nights. Some people walked, some fasted. I stayed in camp and watched over things...
...After the third night we moved to another site (called Toadsuck!) where we stayed for three more nights. It was here I felt that whatever little bit I had been meant to do, was done, and it was time for me to go. I was only waiting for a circle to let everyone know, unaware of what was going on because I had been self-absorbed. Finally, I was pulled aside by a woman, and told about what was going on.
I want to say something about this next part. I hold everyone on the walk in very high regard. I ask that you read carefully, try to make no judgment. I try to remain as neutral as possible regarding these issues, because I have no way of personally knowing the truth of some of the following things. Some things I witnessed, others I was told. There are some things, unfortunately, that I have to leave out, out of respect to personal privacy of some of the walkers. Some things may merely be my point of view, and slanted from that.
I was told that some allegations of sexual abuse had been made against Tom Dostou in the women's circle and that Alycia had confronted Tom about it. The person who told me felt that Tom would try to turn it into a white/native issue. (Remember, Tom is both Native and White). Suddenly, a lot of the division I had observed started to make some sense.
That afternoon, as I watched the few who remained in camp, I did see Tom speaking to people on an individual basis. Then later, in a small circle of about six people, of which I was a part, he said some white people would have to leave. (Not exactly in those words). Sherry had taken the girl (Brianna) to Hot Springs for a couple of days. Apparently, I was one of the last to know what was going on. The next morning Tom told Alycia to leave the walk, and as I was told, he was going to ask more people to leave.
A few people came to me to talk to someone about what was going on. Some felt they should leave; others had been asked to stay and didn't know what to do. Everyone was very hurt, disillusioned, and confused about what to do. From what people told me, I could see then that there would be two groups walking, and that others would simply leave.
The day I left I had a good talk with Tom. I could see the strain of events on him. And he had no idea what was right to do at this point, or how to bring people together. He denied any misconduct with the girl, and said it was merely a misunderstanding. I feel for him, in that tough situation, regardless of what the truth may be. Anyway, that's where I left the walk, and went back to Memphis to be with my fiancée for my birthday.
So the situation at that time was the girl's word against Tom's. Some walkers took sides, others remained neutral. It brought about a division between white and native, which was already strained due to events before Memphis. (Native ceremonies had been stopped because a couple of people complained that they felt they were being forced to participate. That is unfortunate, I never felt that way, and on occasion did not participate if I felt it wasn't for me).
In the end, I walked away with a not-so-positive feeling about the walk. There are some people on the walk that I feel have the attitude that their way is the only way, rather than trying to be open to different ideas, and growing as a group of individuals with different strengths.
Basically, in the time I was there, I saw all the problems of the world, reflected in the individuals on the walk. Some are making remarkable growth, others have yet to walk their talk. Not many seem to be trying to learn to accept differences.
I don't want to make any representation of bad/good of the people on the walk. I believe everybody is where they should be, to learn the lessons they need to learn, and the things that happened did so for a reason, to put light on what needs to be learned. For each person that will be different. For some, they will not look for the lesson (maybe for some there will be no lesson, but I don't really believe that). On the sexual allegations, no one other than Tom and the girl will really know the truth, and they each have their own truth to face.
For myself, while I'm not leaving the circle, I am distancing myself from the walk, and will not work so much on it as I did before. One thing I did learn on the walk, I need to spend more time finding and fixing my problems.
I do feel that everyone, including myself, needs to continue to pray for the people on the walk, and to do what they can when they can.
- Shane Caraveo
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 145 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire