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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Odyssey of the 8th Fire,
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"Your little wind-blown clouds
your thin wisps of clouds
your great masses of clouds
replete with living waters,
you will send forth to stay with us,
your fine rain caressing the earth.

"Send forth your massed clouds to stay with us.
Stretch out your water hands,
let us embrace."

- Zuni rain prayer (English translation)

Day 166 – Tuesday, December 5, 1995 – While the Sunbow pilgrims walk near Gallup, just over the state line in Arizona the Apache Survival Coalition filed a motion in court today. The motion asked the U.S. Justice Department for a criminal investigation of developments on DziƂ Nchaa Sí'an, "Big Seated Mountain," now more commonly called Mount Graham. For the Apache, as for native peoples across Turtle Island, this is an all-too-familiar conflict: their sacred land Vs. modern development.

Located in the Pinaleño Mountains on the northern end of the Madrean Archipelago, Mount Graham is a spectacularly beautiful sky island surrounded by a sea of desert grasslands.

To astronomers the mountain represents a place of great height and clarity, an excellent site for industrial-scale telescopes. To the native Apache people, the mountain is known as a majestic, holy place that is the home of the Ga`an (mountain spirits), and that is central to their spiritual life.

Ga'an - A monumental sculpture of an Apache Mountain Spirit Dancer. Sculpture by Craig Dan Goseyun, installed at the Museum of Indian Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Author photo.

This lawsuit filed today asks the U.S. government to investigate the desecration of Mt. Graham. The Apache Survival Coalition alleges that on December 7, 1993, under cover of darkness, the Forest Service secretly allowed the cutting of more than 500 ancient trees in an area sacred to the Apache. The tribe—and its elders—contends that the Forest Service allowed the cutting without giving the tribe adequate time to respond to their plans.

The trees were cut to make space for astronomers—including groups from the Vatican and the University of Arizona—to build further scientific installations for the Mt. Graham International Observatory

Ola Cassadore-Davis - and her husband Mike fought to protect sacred sites.

Ola Cassadore Davis, Chairperson of the Apache Survival Coalition, and her husband, Mike, have worked in opposition to the development plans for many long years. She will not yield to the larger, lavishly funded sources that want to cut trees and build telescopes on the mountain

"Dzil nchaa si an is the central source of spiritual guidance and the path by which prayers travel to the heavens," Grandmother Ola told me when we talked together about the sacred mountain.

The mother of 7, grandmother of 15, and great grandmother of several more children, Grandmother Ola is a respected voice for keeping the Apache culture alive and protecting the sacred places of the Earth.

She said a there are 32 Apache ways of prayer that come from Mount Graham, including the Sunrise Dance and the Crown Dance. "It goes from our ancestors...It is very important to have respect for that mountain.”

Ola said that the people can see the white box-like industrial telescope building from the reservation, and that it interferes with the prayer life of the people in their efforts to keep the whole of our Earth sacred.


On Holy Ground - the Mount Graham International Observatory perches in the sadle of the sacred moutain

The necessity of protecting sacred sites is a core idea among the native peoples of North America, as well as elsewhere around the world. The effort to respect the holy places is more important now than perhaps at any other time in history, as the critical life-support systems of the planet remain under full-scale assault from what is regarded as development and its attendant pollution.

As Lakota leader Arvol Looking Horse has written, “the native vision is for the peoples of all continents, regardless of their beliefs in the Creator, to come together as one at their Sacred Sites to pray and meditate and commune with one another, thus promoting an energy shift to heal Mother Earth and to achieve a universal consciousness toward attaining Peace.”

As they carry their eagle staffs toward the west, the Sunbow walkers pray for all the sacred places, including Dzil nchaa si an, and they pray for all the people, all the animals, and all the plants, no exceptions -- that all might be respected and that our Earth might remain healthy and strong to support the lives of all the people for at least the next Seven Generations to come.


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 167 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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  With thanksgiving — Steven McFadden


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