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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"Forgiveness is the way to transmute poison and pain. It can replace negative emotions with positive ones...Forgiveness is not to 'forget'...Forgiveness is personal; the benefits are personal...When we share our stories of humanness, we find healing."

- Grandfather William Commanda

Day 69 - Wednesday, August 30, 1995  - In the unrelenting heat the walk went forward for 28 miles from Cleveland, Tennessee to Chattanooga. The day ended at the Audubon Acres Sanctuary, right within the city.

Chattanooga is an Indian name meaning "rock rising to a point," a direct reference to, and name for, the landmark Lookout Mountain, just south of the city. Lookout is a long and beautiful ridge which runs from a bend in the Tennessee River down into Alabama and Georgia.

The name Tennessee itself derives, some say, from another Indian word: Tanase, the Creek name for "beloved old town."

Lookout Mountain at sunset from Chattanooga. Photo by Garrett Bartley

For some of the miles they traveled today the walkers journeyed along Interstate 75, a practice neither advised nor welcomed by highway officials. No incidents occurred, no police stopped. Several motorists, however, did pull over to inquire whether the walkers needed help, and to ask them what they were doing. The Tennesseans were exceptionally cordial and welcoming.

When the walkers arrived in Chattanooga they settled in at the Audubon sanctuary, and many of them were immediately drawn to the South Chikamauga Creek. Without hesitation they jumped in to wash away the heat of the day.

A member of the local Audubon Society brought sandwiches and home-baked cookies to feed the walkers. In the evening a group of local organic farmers and seven members of the Chattanooga Intertribal Council (SITA) came by to visit. They all sat by the fire talking with one another until midnight.

The SITA Council members told of how they are working to preserve Moccasin Flats. This is a place near Chattanooga that shows evidence of continual human habitation for over 17,000 years.

Hundreds of gravesites have been discovered at Moccasin Flats. However, many of the graves have been robbed in recent years. The members of SITA have taken on the role of caretakers, and have reburied many of the remains of their ancestors that have been disturbed as greedy souls grasped for what they hoped would be material wealth.


E-mail from Ray Erlandson
Subject: My time with the walk
While I was with the walk in Chattanooga we encountered several brothers who were in charge of protecting the ancient burial ground at Moccasin Bend of the Tennessee River, a most sacred place.

A river bend

It became obvious to several of us how tied into the place are these brothers; their lives revolve around the protection and well being of that piece of Earth. They are warriors wounded by the sicknesses of civilization and recovering, as we all are, from our various wounds. It struck us how their personal healing path is the healing of that piece of earth since they are so closely tied to it.

I would say that the Sunbow Walk is effective in that it is a vehicle for the healing of the walkers themselves as wounded warriors. The walking, the drumming, the chanting and the praying have a two-fold effect.

One aspect is the healing of the walkers themselves by service to humanity for working off karmic debts, and the other is the unseen aspect. That aspect involves the healing of the essence of the earth.

The negative vibrations of the slaughter and bloodshed in the Chickamauga area were intense from the murder and destruction of the ancient villages of that area. The Civil War dead are almost countless. The Creek Indian battles made the waters run red. Yet the drumming and chanting of the Sunbow walk helped to clear the air. Their vibrations helped heal the essence of what remained from previous history. Healing has an aspect that is beyond the physical.

- Ray Erlandson


The Battle of Chickamauga took place in mid-September 1863 in the woods surrounding the small creek known as Chickamauga, not too many miles from where the Sunbow 5 walkers are encamped. The native word Chickamauga is generally interpreted to mean “stagant river” but more broadly it can be understood to mean “river of death.”

Re-enactment of an American Civil War battle

Around Chickamauga Creek the Union and Confederate armies clashed in some of the most savage fighting of the American Civil War, what some historians assert was the bloodiest two days in American history.

Neither side wanted to fight at Chickamauga. Dense forests limited visibility severely. For all intents and purposes, there were no battle lines. Generals on both sides realized that no army was likely to emerge a clear winner under these conditions. Still, they fought. Often the fighting was face-to-face and hand-to-hand. In the heat of the brutal engagement enlisted men wound up making the tactical decisions. Chickamauga was a scene of mass insanity and wholesale, human carnage for two long days and nights.

The prize for all this suffering was Chattanooga, a key railroad center and the strategic gateway to the heart of the Confederacy. Chattanooga was a vital city for Union war aims because seizing it would open the door for an assault on Atlanta and the heartland of the South.

After the fearsome clash, 34,000 human beings lay dead, and many thousands of other human beings were maimed for life. Their families commenced mourning.

A monument commemorating the 34,000 human beings who died
fighting one another in the Battle of Chickamauga. Photo by J. Williams.

Chickamauga is regarded as one of the most significant Union defeats in the Civil War. But despite the valiant efforts and sacrifices of the men on both sides, just two months later, in November of 1863, the strategic results of the Battle of Chickamauga were reversed in the Battle of Chattanooga.

For the Battle of Chattanooga Union General Ulysses S. Grant marched on the city and Lookout Mountain. Another mass of 100,000 human beings engaged each other in a death struggle with brutally efficient weapons, the men on both sides generally convinced they had the correct view of truth, and that God was on their side. This time more than 13,000 human beings died. This time the North claimed victory. This time the way was opened for Union General William Tecumseh Sherman's epic march of death and destruction to Atlanta and Savannah the following year.

As a primary part of our Sunbow 5 purpose and mission, the walkers drummed, chanted, and prayed for all the people who met in all these battles, all the human beings who died or suffered or bore grief, or passed that grief and anger on to their descendants.


Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden

Read Day 70 - Odyssey of the 8th Fire

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

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