Day 197 - Friday, January 5, 1996 – Just about the time the Sun was setting, signaling the commencement of Twelfth Night—the final night of the Christmas Festival—our walk’s pager beeped. Thus began a pivotal evening for everyone on the pilgrimage.
Twelfth Night is said to be the night when the three elders, the three Mages, arrive in Bethlehem after an extended pilgrimage. They have been following a sky sign: not the Whirling Rainbow, like us, but a bright star.
The three Biblical elders—Caspar, Melchoir, and Balthazar—have been traveling across the desert for a long time in search of the herald of a new age, a new era for humanity. In the story, the herald, the Christ child, has been born well over a week ago.
Although they have already been seeking for a long time, and perhaps because they have been threatened by the authorities in person of Kind Herod, it takes the Magi many more days after the birth to find the child and to come to a full realization of what has happened.
The Adoration of the Magi - by Dutch painter Leonaert Bramer, circa 1633-35.
Scott Kecken was wearing our walk's pager as the Sun set and the Twelfth Night of Christmas got underway. He heard the beep. He went to the crossroads at the Colorado River Indian Tribe reservation, across from the baseball field where we were encamped, and he called the number on the pager.
The phone rang at the home of Vernon Foster near Pheonix, Arizona. He's the head of the Arizona chapter of the American Indian Movement (AIM), and he has been calling us.
Later, when our entire group of Sunbow 5 pilgrims had formed a standing circle around the fire in our camp, Scott told us what Vernon Foster said. He mentioned that what was a rumor yesterday, was now fact.
Scott reported that Vernon Foster had called us via our beeper a total of four times, and that he wanted us to quit our pilgrimage immediately. Vernon threatened that if we did not stop walking, AIM would stop us.
Vernon told Scott he had heard we are a bunch of New Agers carrying sacred medicines, pipes and staffs, that we have no right to carry. He said that he and his warriors were coming tomorrow to stop us and take pipes and staffs from us.
We passed the Talking Stick when Scott finished his report, and we took turns responding to the threat. We considered the threat real and dangerous.
Joe said he was sure that Tom was there in Pheonix with Vernon Foster, because of the character of the misinformation about our walk that Vernon was articulating. Joe said he suspects that Tom put the AIM leader up to this anger, and the phone call threats. He said he wanted to go on with the walk, despite the threats. As the Talking Stick went around our circle, so did every single man, woman, and child in our group. We all affirmed our intention to go forward without fear, no matter the level of intimidation.
|Hauling Water - Einar Sunde stands by his truck, equiped with barrels for hauling water, along with Stanley Michel. (Author photo).
“I had been on the Sunbow walk all the way from Oklahoma,” Einar Sunde later told me. "In my recollection, that was the only day when—after we got the warning—we went around the circle and actually used a complete consensus process.
“I was so amazed and proud,” Einar said. “To hear each person say ‘I didn’t walk all this way to give up.’ We’re a large group of people, and certainly not able to hide as we cross the Mojave desert. But not one person wanted to hide, or try to avoid the confrontation. By the time we got around the circle, we had consensus that we were not willing to stop, or to hide. We all decided that we all would walk, and that we would do it together. We came to unanimous agreement that we would walk on to the west, despite Tom, despite the threats."
Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden
Read Day 198 -- Odyssey of the 8th Fire