“I went to the woods because I wanted to live deliberately. I wanted to live deep and to suck out all the marrow of life, to put to rout all that was not life, and not, when I had come to die, discover that I had not lived."
- Henry David Thoreau
Day 71 - Friday, September 1, 1995 - The walk stayed put at Audubon Acres in Chattanooga, and the walkers continued to receive visitors through the day.
|Sunbow walker Ned Paschene prepares for ceremony with goose-feather fan. Author photo.
Ned Paschene and Joe Soto returned to the walk's camp in the evening, after fasting and praying on a mountainside for a couple of nights and days.
Being beefy guys and notoriously rabid eaters, they broke their fast with a trip to Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC), and shortly thereafter with an auxiliary pilgrimage to the International House of Pancakes (IHOP).
Ned and Joe laid waste to several massive combo platters, astonishing onlookers one and all.
This approach to breaking a fast is definitely not recommended for 99.9% of the people on Earth. Generally, one breaks a fast slowly, modestly, incrementally. Ned and Joe, however, thrive on the whole hog famine-then-feast approach. It works for them. They were in fabulously happy spirits, and had many a robust tale to tell of their time on the mountain, and their connection with nature. By turning inward, they had learned many things and grown stronger. They said they felt renewed, strengthened, and ready to walk on the many miles to the west.
Ned is Innu (Montagnais-Naskapi). He was born in the village of Fort Chimo, at one time an important post for the Hudson Bay Company way north in Nitassinan (Quebec-Labrador), Canada—the far North of Turtle Island.
The Innu people have lived in Nitassinan for at least 2000 years. It is only since the 1950s that the people and elements of modern mass culture began making inroads into Nitassinan. That incursion has been, and remains, an ongoing disaster.
The Innu are a hunting people. But the institutions of modernity have conspired to keep them in one place, separating them from everything that formerly gave their lives meaning. Consequently, the Innu people have seen their land and culture erode. In this Ned sees his role as a defender of the Earth, and as a healer.
As fate would have it, the spiritual name given by great grandfather to Ned in the Innu language (an Algonquin dialect) is Pemutau. That means "Walker," a name perfectly suited for one of the Sunbow pilgrims setting off on an epic walk for the sake of the Earth and the Sacred Hoop of life upon the Earth.
For the Innu culture where Ned has his roots, respect is the key spiritual principle. Respect is understood to mean cultivating right relations with other people, animals, the natural world, and with vital physical objects such as traps and snowshoes, and also, as in everything, spirit.
A healer trained in traditional ways, Ned says that in his view the most powerful healing is “love, acceptance and forgiveness."
Copyright 2006 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 72 - Odyssey of the 8th Fire