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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"I do believe there is more good in the world than evil, but not by much. The task of each person is to help tip the scale. Every life matters immensely, and every well-lived and completed life helps with tikkun olam (healing the world).

- Zalman Schacter-Shalomi

Day 64 - Friday, August 25, 1995 - After having been absent a few days for a brief visit to her sister’s home in Atlanta, Sherry Noser returned to the walk. She drove back in her van, bringing with her a jolly collection of string and rhythm instruments. The walkers took the hint and made plans to set up a music circle right at the Cherokee Visitors Center.

Quahog clamshell - Wampum

Gaston is leaving the walk. He says he's heading back north to Canada. There has been tension between Gaston and Tom for a long time. They knew each other before the walk began, and didn’t especially get along with each other then. The tension has been building over the last few weeks.

Today they had open, angry words—a major verbal donnybrook, with ferocious yelling. Gaston packed up and left. He’s had it.

Before our walk began I had traveled out to Nope (the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts) and gathered a big cloth bag full of wampum chips. I gifted the bag of chips to the walk, so the walkers could offer wampum samples to people they met along the road. The chips could serve as gifts and reminders of why we are walking. According to Tom, Gaston scattered the bag of wampum shells on the ground, and stormed off. Gaston said he would not return, and that he would not walk another step with Tom.

Charles Byington

Charles Byington is leaving, too. He's taking a bus and heading to Atlanta. He has a number of reasons for heading home, but he’s also bitter. He feels he's taken an unfair ragging from others in the group, especially Tom.

Charles told me that Tom always seems to be getting into it with some member of the group, whether he’s making an issue about walking too fast or walking too slow, getting up too early or too late, participating in the pipe ceremonies, or something else. Charles said it seems as if when things are quiet, Tom stirs them up just to have some action.

By my reckoning—far removed from the action in the coordinator’s office in New Hampshire—I have heard from various walkers that in just the last week or so Tom has butted heads and given vent to angry outbursts with Gaston, Rita, VaLaine, Clayton, Charles, Joe, and Dave Reid. Dave responds with skill, according to Charles. He doesn’t buy into all the sturm and drang. Dave has a cool strategy, Charles says. He just listens to Tom and lets it blow past him.


Through most of the day on Friday the walkers followed their plan and played guitar, drummed and sang for everyone who stopped by the visitor center, and also peddled T-shirts. They raised $164.

Dierdre Dostou cuts her Sweet Sixteen birthday cake.

In the evening the walkers gathered to celebrate Deirdre Dostou's Sweet Sixteen birthday party.

Rose, Polly McNichol, and Samantha Commando worked together strung bead necklaces for Dierdre. Her dad Tom, and Joe Soto, sang honoring songs, and the whole group rocked out some more with songs both sad and silly. Deirdre must leave tomorrow morning to return home and enroll for her Junior year in high school.

Despite their many conflicts, the walkers really do know how to have fun together, to party, and especially to make music. There are a lot of good singers among them, and most everyone can keep the beat.

When they pick up on a song—such as the by-now-familiar Sunbow medicine song that Ned Paschene was gifted with in the Lodge just as the walk began—they really rock. It's easy for other people who may be visiting or attending an event to catch the chants and tunes and join in. The music invariably brings unity and good feeling.

Ned, Joe, and Charlie, in particular, know a lot of medicine songs and chants, as well as popular tunes.

Joe and Silverio Jimenez, natives of Boriquen and Mexico respectively, gave  a rip-roaring rendition of La Bamba. Ned, who used to play in a Cree rock-and-roll band named Kashtin, can bring down the house when rocking on acoustic guitar. He styles himself as "Johnny No Cash," and from time to time lets loose with his kick-heart cover of “The House of the Rising Sun.”

As the pilgrims prepared to leave their camp, they extended sincere thanks to the people of the Eastern Cherokee Nation for their kindness and support. They offered special thanks to the Grant family, Amy, John and of course General Grant. They thanked Lloyd, Carl, Al, Robert Hawk, Lisa Montelongo and her mom, Nora Thompson, and Moses Walking Stick. Finally, they tipped their caps to the congregation of the Soco United Methodist Church .


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 65 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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  With thanksgiving — Steven McFadden


| Author's Note | Dedication | Acknowledgements | Donors
Invocation | Prologue | Contents

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