Day 33 - Tuesday, July 25, 1995 - Grandfather Commanda settled into his Washington visit, enjoying the company of the pilgrims. Together they hatched a plan to walk near the White House tomorrow to offer a pipe ceremony.
While visiting and talking, Grandfather encouraged the walkers to strive to stay on the Red Road as they travel. He was not being literal.
Red Road is a metaphor used widely among native peoples in the Americas. The term raises appreciation for a path, a way a human being may live out his or her time on Mother Earth—not dominating or attempting to control nature or other people, but engaging in respectful balance. As I have come to understand it, Red Road refers to living consciously and powerfully, yet gently, with all Creation. It implies a fundamental reverence for all that is.
When Grandfather Commanda or many other native elders speak of walking the Red Road, they generally mean living a life of truth, respect, caring, sharing, friendship, and spiritual understanding.
The wisdom pathway of the Red Road, some say, runs north to south. Considering things in that light, its noteworthy that our walk began in the North, the direction many associate with elders, snowy owl, tall pines, white buffalo, the Aurora Borealis, and the clear, cold, winds that can blow dust and cobwebs from the mind. Other native observers regard South, the direction our walk has been heading for the last month, as associated with mouse and coyote, with youth, growth, innocence, and also with both trust and tricks. Be who you are.
From phone conversations with Grandfather Commanda and Tom, I learned that before we started our pilgrimage the Reebok Corporation had generously committed to funding the whole Sunbow 5 walk, and to providing financial and corporate support throughout.
Tom consulted with Grandfather to see what he should do. Grandfather said: “I’m sending them out there to learn how to love. They don’t need outside funding for that.”
Tom contacted Rebook and respectfully declined the offer. Our walk set off thirty three days ago without corporate support, but with trust that we would somehow find the food, water, shoes, shelter, and fortitude we would need to complete the journey.