Heart of the River convened a small celebration gathering at Mounds State Park on a beautiful afternoon this past Sunday. We enjoyed a cookout and inspirational fire circle next to the river. We wanted to promptly celebrate the recent down votes of the proposed Mounds Lake Commission by the Town Council’s of Daleville and Yorktown. A larger celebration will be planned in the future.
The fire circle conversation was very inspiring. Threatened home- and land-owners expressed great joy and relief. Individuals and coalition participants from some of our supporting organizations commented on the efforts, stakes, and result.
There was also discussion about the future. Will the recent victories stand— will the Corporation for Economic Development accept the defeat or might it seek to somehow revive the plan via political finagling? How might the river and greenbelt, and the awe and joy which they engender, be protected in the years ahead? Many ideas were offered.
The fire circle was informal, but it was initiated and concluded by brief readings aloud from two prominent authors who have written (and advocated) often about the need for preservation of our natural heritage. As an invocation, a passage from James Alexander and Dark Rain Thom’s Warrior Woman was read aloud. The passage described a grand council (for treaty talks) of tribal leaders and military officers, brought together in Pittsburg in September, 1775 during the time when settlement and land-lust was directly endangering indigenous lands, lives, and cultures. It’s peaceful tone and imagery were especially fitting for our occasion:
“The Shawnee people knew that the Tapistemawigi-sipe, Where-the-Rivers-Meet, there is a strong spirit force, and people like to live there. In such places, events flow together, as do the waters down from the hills, and so these are important places. The Delaware called this Menach-sink, the Flowing-Together-Place….
It seemed to Nonhelema (Shawnee chief) that all was right, as good as it could be. She felt that true peace could begin here, in this place.
She closed her eyes and took slow breaths, and she could feel that this was the good center of everything, the place from which peace would move outward, like ripples on water when one raindrop falls upon it.
It felt as if this round arbor with tables, chairs, a keg, and a council fire in the center, here at the sacred and powerful old place, … Where-The-Rivers-Meet, had filled her with strength and wisdom. Her own heartbeat felt like a drum.
Good people around, with good intentions. Och-quo-tee, noolech-tomeepeh, wawha-eeakee, wewshe-t’heekee, skota, she prayed in pictures: Clear sky, smooth water, sacred circle, well-meaning people, fire.”
To close the fire circle, a poignant call by Scott Russell Sanders was read aloud. (Mr. Sanders presented an afternoon of river readings and comments at our January 24th gathering).
“We need to resist attacks on air, soil, water, and wild lands. But we also need to change our culture, not just our leaders and technology. We need to speak out and act for more conserving, more sustainable, more peaceful and more just practices in our homes, our workplaces, our schools, and our public assemblies. We must refuse to shut up, refuse to give up, in the face of corporate consumerism and a mass culture peddling the narcotics of entertainment. We need to articulate and demonstrate a more decent and joyous way of life.” Scott Russell Sanders, Grist Magazine 3-11-05