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I THINK Spring is here at last!!!
With Spring comes the reawakening of Mother Earth. Green leaves and grass.
Dogwood and redbud blooms, tulip trees and flowering almond trees will once again
strut their stuff. Baby birds and many other babies in the fields and forests.
What a wonderful time this is.
This Spring is also time to plan for the Peace and Dignity Journeys 2008. I personally
will be making plans and preparations for the Trail of Tears portion of the Peace and Dignity
Journey. This past week we had two visitors from Arizona in Southern IL to see and help
lay the ground work for this years run. Sue Senn, Cherokee, and Gustavo Gutierrez, Opata,
both of Arizona, traveled with me to (first) Cape Girardeau, MO to meet with Peace and Dignity Cherokee coordinators in that area. Sue and Gustavo remained in MO overnight for another meeting, after visiting the Trail of Tears State Park.
Wednesday morning I met Sue and Gustavo at the Jonesboro, IL Sundance Grounds. While there we had a brief ceremony honoring the Sundance and Duke Big Feather Schallmo. After a much needed stop in Jonesboro for breakfast, the three of us continued on through Anna, Vienna and Grantsburg in route to the Crabb-Abbott Farm, owned by Joe Crabb. The Crabb-Abbott Farm was recently designated as a Historical Site in connection with the Trail of Tears. A portion of the farmland was actually a part of the Trail of Tears, the forced removal of the Cherokee from their homeland in the east to land beyond the Mississippi River, ultimately, Oklahoma. Mr. Crabb talked with us and has agreed to allow some of the runners from the Peace and Dignity Journeys 2008 to visit this sacred site while in Southern IL this summer.
Thursday morning we got an early start on our way back through Vienna to Dixon Springs Park. This is one of the areas the runners plan to camp while traveling the Trail of Tears this summer. Both Sue and Gustavo agreed that the park was beautiful and would be a perfect rest stop for the men and women on this journey. After leaving Dixon Springs we crossed IL Rt. 146 to Brownfield Road, traveling to the Trail of Tears Cemetery. This cemetery has been marked as the resting place of many Cherokee who perished during the march. As it turned out we spent quite a while at the cemetery, reading markers and saying prayers for all those who rest there.
Our next stop was the Golconda Dairy Bar for a bite to eat for lunch and time to make a call to Momfeather Erickson at the Mantle Rock Welcome Center in Marion, KY. Momfeather was wise and suggested that I should be sure the Cave-In-Rock Ferry was running before driving to the ramp. I hadn't considered that the high water might be too high for the ferry to operate! I made calls but could not get the information I needed, so we made a quick stop at a convenience/gas station just before the turn that will either take you to Cave-In-Rock or IL Rt.1. Thank goodness for the friendly and informative local gentlemen who were a wealth of information! "You'll have to take Rt.1, the ferry is closed."
The ferry would have been so much closer! I'm not sure but I believe the Rt.1, Shawneetown bridge route, from Hardin County, is about 50 (+) miles out of the way. It seemed more like a 100 miles farther, we made it in time however. Momfeather met us downtown at the storefront/barbershop welcome center which is directly across from the courthouse. Marion,KY is a beautiful small town with many warm, friendly people and the Mantle Rock
folks are at the top of that list. We were taken to the Mantle Rock Center where we met with Momfeather, Stella and Momfeather's daughter Tina. I felt as though I had known these women all my life and I know Sue and Gustavo felt likewise. I so appreciate their warmth and hospitality and hope to visit there again very soon.
I had to leave by 2:30 in order to make the drive back to Marion, IL in time to get my work taken care of for the day. Leaving Sue and Gustavo in the caring hands of the "Ladies of Mantle Rock" was more difficult than I had anticipated. I have enjoyed our time together and have learned much about not only my own Cherokee people and their plight, but also that of many other indigenous nations throughout this hemisphere. I am grateful for the three days I spent with my friends from Arizona. God willing Sue and I will see each other this summer at Sundance and I look forward to that. I hope I have the opportunity to once again see and speak with Gustavo, the kind, caring, soft-spoken wise man who was a stranger when he arrived at my house on Monday evening. By Thursday, he was family.
Gustavo and Sue traveled on through KY to TN after we parted. There is to be a meeting at Indian Mound, TN this evening. Tomorrow the two of them will return to their homes and continue to plan for Peace and Dignity Journeys 2008. Anyone in the Southern IL area who would like to support Peace and Dignity in some way or anyone who wishes to run along as PDJ 2008 passes through your community, please leave a comment to this post, including a way that I can get in touch with you and I will attempt to answer any questions you may have
concerning the run.
"Live, Love and Laugh!"