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 in Indian Country, a term describing the path, or 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 living in respectful balance. Red Road refers to living consciously and powerfully, yet gently, with all of Creation. It implies a fundamental reverence for all that is.
When Grandfather Commanda or another native elder speaks of walking the Red Road, they mean living a life of truth, respect, caring, sharing, friendship, and spirituality.
The wisdom pathway of the Red Road is understood to run from north to south. Considering things in that light, our walk began in the North, the direction associated with elders, snowy owl, tall pines, white buffalo, the Aurora Borealis, and the cold, crystalline winds that blow dust and cobwebs from the mind. South, the direction our walk has been heading for a month, is associated with mouse and coyote -- youth, growth, innocence, tricks and trust; be who you are. There are endless lessons on the Red Road, as we are learning
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. William told Tom: “I’m sending them out there to learn how to love. They don’t need outside funding for that.” Tom respectfully declined the offer, and our walk set off not with corporate support, but with trust that we would somehow find the food, water, shoes, and shelter we would need to complete the journey.