July 2005

Summary of The Walking People Reading Circle, Fly Like Eagle p. 451

Jeanne told us that she and the Simpsons had attended a Pow-wow in Fredericksburg, Texas, honoring the only unbroken treaty between our government and Native Americans, in this case, the Comanche. Linda Barr, Donna Snow-Robinson’s daughter, read a short piece from the pamphlet created for this event that described the procedure whereby if an eagle feather accidentally dropped from a dancer’s headdress, a ceremony was required before picking it up and re-using it. To show their respect during this ceremony, visitors wearing hats removed them.

We were honored to have such a feather as our central fire. In retrospect, sharing a central fire with this special offering seemingly helped sharpen our senses as we listened to each other share something in our lives and when we read the story. We also shared, when possible, how we are using this special wisdom in our lives.

RC described the difference sitting in a circle, with all facing one another, makes when he uses it in his monthly lecture to some 80-100 people at La ‘Hacienda, a renowned local substance abuse treatment center. Further, the large group subdivides into smaller groups who are tasked with finding six things that they agree upon and specific things they can do to maintain these items of agreement. The smaller groups provide their input to the larger group. This is an example of consensus and community building.

This was followed by a brief discussion on the significance of the number six in the Rule Of Six. Vicki Lynn Morris from Leakey offered that it might stem from the four cardinal directions plus the directions of above and below. Jeanne told us that Paula Underwood used the phrase, “there are probably 60 possible explanations, but we should be able to come up with at least six of them, to sensitize ourselves to how many possibilities there might yet be.”

Jeanne began the reading by reminiscing about where she had first heard the story Fly Like Eagle: The Telling Of One Who Could Not Walk which begins on p. 451 of The Walking People. It was the second training with Paula in Texas, near San Marcos, at a place owned by Genevieve Vaughn. Perhaps some of you were present.

At the end of the story, Jeanne asked the time-honored question, “What may we learn from this?”

A rush of thoughts came forth that were expressed randomly, yet orderly. Thoughts came so rapidly that I was unable to assign attribution to them. One said succinctly that we must not shortchange anyone. Another said that regardless of our conditions, there is always something that we can do. Jeanne reminded us that we come here with a purpose and we each have to find our own purpose. That is why his mother gave him the following riddle to solve, p. 464:

“So be advised, that I assign you now a task that is yours and yours alone. Those who cannot walk through no carelessness of their own may yet fly like Eagle. When you understand what I say even at that time will you free yourself and your People from a great burden.”

Someone said that all learned to cooperate. By the end of the story, all are willing to share someone else’s burden. Through this story, the Walking People broadened their definition of themselves. They became a carrying and sharing people. Another added that the one who could not walk became the taster for the people.

This led to a discussion of the gifts that come with suffering, that all was not sorrow, that what disabled, enabled also. The People were willing to keep moving. His mother inspired him to keep on living. RC remarked that he did not feel grief at the deaths of his father and grandmother, the two people whom he felt the closest to in the world. Rather, he felt the gift of gratitude that he, in turn, shares with others.

RC was on a roll and went on to say that it’s harder to see beauty in another’s trying behaviors when you have to endure them. Yet, those very behaviors are a gift to all others because they have to work their way through them. Hal Robinson often uses the character called Rotten Billy whom the tribe honors because he has taught them how not to live.

The people also learned from eagle to vary their sustenance as they moved on. Since they were always on the move, they had to learn to let go of the old and learn how to use the new forms of sustenance available to them.

In closing, Jeanne brought us back to p. 473 and the eulogy a True Son gave to a True Mother as he offered eagle feathers given to him by each Eagle nest:


Jeanne concluded by stating that many can care for one, but it is extraordinary for one to care for a whole people.

Then we heard an engine roar and looked out in time to see a Pawnee, Dan Simpson, riding his yard tractor into the shed. Suddenly, the temperature dropped and rain came down in torrents. Once again we were in the moment.

This prompted a biblical quip from Donna Snow Robinson, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was BLUB.”