"This journey of healing will take generations. But this journey has to begin somewhere so that our people and our children can feel good inside their skin...There is no room for blame in our healing journey, only understanding, which then leads to respect."
- William Commanda
Day 217 - Thursday, January 25, 1996 – We were unable to fire up the purification lodges last night because there was no wood. Instead, we came together in a healing circle to honor and bless the staff which the elders gave us while our walk was passing through Hopi (Day 175). In a powerful ceremony, every single one of us—about 50 people, including walkers and visitors - placed a feather or some other Medicine object on the staff.
As it happened that night, Cahuilla Margaret Red Elk, Linda White Wolf Sanchez, and two sisters from the Chumash nation (Liz Dominguez and Grandmother Adalaina of the Santa Ynez Reservation) visited us and joined the circle.
They welcomed us to ancestral Chumash territory, and joined in blessing the staff. They said they would help us.
Ned shared medicine that he had gathered from James Bay in Canada, letting each person take a handful to make prayer offerings for the successful conclusion of our pilgrimage, the lighting of the 8th Fire, and for the healing of any personal difficulties or wounds that we might be carrying.
We sang and danced for just a short while before retiring to our tents. Most of us slept long and deep over the night and woke up slowly.
|White Buffalo - At our Sunbow 5 camp, Rebecca displays a photograph with an image of the white buffalo, Miracle. (Author photo)
Rebecca Tarkley came to our circle today and told us that the white buffalo born a year ago had completed changing it’s color, and thus fulfilled another part of the Lakota teachings (Day 20). She said the buffalo, Miracle, which was born white, had progressed through all the different colors of humanity, changing from white to yellow, black, brown and red.
Sharing a photograph of the white buffalo, she said the change in colors was something she understood as a sign that all the races and colors and faiths of humanity will eventually come together in respect and peace.
As far as all the races coming together on our prayer walk, in my view that has not happened fully yet. For me, one of the unsettling elements of our pilgrimage, particularly over the last two weeks, has been lack of clarity or knowledge. So much has gone on and yet it’s primarily for the knowledge and understanding of native people, while the rest of the Sunbow walkers have little confirmed information about what is going on.
We are tossed scraps of news, but we are not involved in the discussions or the decisions that impact us. Almost everything that has happened with Tom and the Chumash warriors has happened apart from our circle, with just Joe, Ned, and other people who are native. The rest of us have been pointedly excluded, receiving only odd tidbits of information from those meetings. Consequently, most of us carry only a speculative sense of what’s really going on.
Grandfather Commanda told us at the beginning of our walk, and then he reminded us throughout, that native people are to guide the walk, not to lead it. We must all go forward together as equals, he said, if we are to succeed in lighting an 8th Fire. Our walk still has a far journey to reach that ideal.
As Byron Young noted while we sat near the fire this evening, when some of our freedoms were taken away as we came into the control of the Harmony Warriors circle, many of us on the walk began to get a direct experience of how it has been for the native people themselves over the last 500 years.
As Europeans came over and colonized and dominated Turtle Island, the natives had their freedoms taken away. The wounds from that mass injustice are still festering.
Once again we took turns keeping watch over our camp through the night. All was quiet.
Copyright 2007 by Steven McFadden