by Bobby Wallace
“Things happen the way they are supposed to” I can remember an Elder saying.
After the 2 and a half hour drives to get runners, the thought of food crept up on me, as I rested finally on the soft leather couch in the front room. I could see the outline of the trees through the big window in the room, and I could hear the laughter upstairs from my Dine’/Apache friend from Arizona & my friend from Onondaga, Haudenosaunee from New York, then I was out.
The morning came fast with only a few hours’ sleep. I felt a little rough and tired, but I had to get another relative, a Hopi/Pueblo/Kumeyaay from the Augusta Airport and get back in time to start the run. Driving on these roads were a blessing, because the trees were green as green can get as I mentioned before, and a lot of the rolling hills had some kind of water around them.
As we came back to the Cabin, I could see everyone was ready and waiting for us to start something that has never been done before, a run for all water. I could see the excitement in their eyes and in the way they were moving around. I got butterflies and felt really good about it all, as I changed into running clothes and prepared the medicine for the Opening Ceremony. We all loaded up into the van, and started the drive to the West Quoddy Head Lighthouse where we were to meet Dwayne and the people of the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
As we followed our Google maps, that didn’t work so well because of service, we finally started to see the Atlantic Ocean, and a beautiful white and red Lighthouse in the distance. The water was flat and we could see a stretch of a long green rocky Island a couple miles from shore, and in the sky there were seagulls everywhere looking for their salty meal in the water below. As we unloaded from the van we made eye contact with the people in cars pulling in at the same time.
I looked at a lady in a car that pulled up and said “hey” and she said “Hey, are you with the people running for all water?” I said “Yes, we are. We’re here to meet Dwayne Tomah.” Then, she immediately smiled, got out of her car and introduced us to her companions. As we walked down towards the Lighthouse we could hear others following behind, laughing and having a good time. We slowed down and introduced ourselves, and they did the same. They were the Passamaquoddy Women Singers Drum Group coming to sing for the water and our safety.
Before I left to the run I had made a promise to the Run with the Sun Team in San Diego. It was to hold the Eagle Staffs to the West as we started the Prayer for the Run, when they started the Prayer for the 1st Annual Horseshoe/Corn Hole Tournament at Santa Ysabel looking east towards us at the exact time, 3pm Eastern time and 12 noon Pacific time
We entered the green grassy area on the north side of the lighthouse where there was a table loaded with food, and Dwayne working on something. We all shook hands and were joking as us natives do. As we made our circle, I could see the bright ribbons on the ribbon dresses that the traditional ladies from the tribe were wearing, and on the traditional wear that our friends were wearing that were going to run, ribbon skirts, tops and moccs. As the circle was tightened up I said a few good words to the west, hoping to catch the prayers coming from our homelands of the Kumeyaay, it was 3pm.
The songs from our hosting Tribal Women’s group were strong, led by a leader with a drum, and seemed to be right on point, meaning their songs were so strong, in such a great harmony together, they sounded like one. These songs were old and had been sang in this territory since the beginning, and immediately I had goosebumps all over my arms and my heart was beating fast, like a drum within myself. After the 4th song, we went and shook hands with the group, and showed our appreciation, gratitude and respect to them all. After the respect was done, the leader Dwayne said some words in the Passamaquoddy language and proceeded to sing 4 old songs himself. Again the goosebumps appeared upon myself, and he drummed and sang the songs of a story from long ago. As he was singing, there were Eagles flying all around, and I could hear their voice in the air. It was a real blessing to hear!!
As we proceeded down the trail to the beach, walking in and around the pine, shrubbery, and the small growth growing up and intertwining around everything, climbing up the trees, our host leader Dwayne led us with songs. I could see the flat blue water of the East intermittently between all the green, until we approached the old wooden steps that led to the sand. We all got to the bottom and saw the little cove with sand, and proceeded in that direction walking upon round stones and smelling the salty smell of the big water of the east. As we stopped at the water’s edge, the water I had collected from the Pacific Ocean/San Diego River was handed to the leader of the Passamaquoddy Women’s Singers, one to the Apache/Dine’ woman, and one to the Onondaga, Haudenosaunee woman. Women give life, water is life, and without either, women and water we have no life, but it’s deeper and more complex, and I respect that. I watched as these respectful Native American Women from different parts from Turtle Island opened the containers and slowly started to pour the water into the Atlantic, then looked out to the Eastern water towards the island. Then I saw a surge of water pop up at about a hundred yards or so away from the beach, it was so very noticeable, I could still see it as I looked around the water for anything that could have made a wake but there was nothing, so I watched the surge come towards us on the shoreline. As the water came in the cove I stood up on a couple large rocks, and watched it come to the edge of the sand and flow over the women’s feet and everyone’s feet that was close. I looked down at my own feet and saw the water rush below me and couldn’t believe what I had just seen. The water came alive, woke up, or something special at the same time -- the water had been merged. I believe we were at the right place at the right time to see such a thing happen, and I can still see it like it was a few minutes ago in my mind. We all were blessed. I feel stories like this should be shared and not be hoarded and kept only for a select few, but be shared with all, like medicine. And there is more.
After we did some “things” we had to do for the Run With The Sun, all of us were hanging out on the beach laughing about the water getting the moccs and shoes wet, and taking pics of us together. We all started walking up the old wooden steps and made it back to our starting point on the grass by the table. I had wrapped up some gifts and they were passed out among the people for a thank you for letting us start the run in their territory. I looked around for Dwayne right after and I saw him up by his van doing something. Then he started walking down and came up to us all and told us of this story;
He said, “I received a call early this morning from a fisherman who found an Eagle, passed away from something, so I took the Eagle and did what I’m supposed to do with it, but before I took care of it I asked it if I could take feathers from it and gift them to the runners, so I took 7 feathers for you guys.” He took the feathers and gifted them to us one by one. I was in amazement of such an honor, because being gifted an Eagle Feather is one of the highest honors a Native American can receive from another, and one from the East. As I received my feather, I said to Dwayne as I looked in his eyes, “Thank you brother, this is really a special gift and honor, and I really appreciate it a lot. I know it will watch over us.” Then right at that moment Dwayne said, “It is right now, watching over you” and as I turned around and looked where Dwayne was pointing towards the ocean and sky, I saw the Bald Eagle flying by pretty close to us and looking straight at us all, and I could see its eyes.
Then the Run With The Sun began.
“Things happen the way they are supposed to.”
Episode 3- “Mountains of the East and the Haudenosaunee” will be in the next edition of Indian Voices.
If you are interested in running, walking, donating or helping in any manner to the “Run With the Sun” Please contact: Bobby Wallace 619-922-7032