Aryae’s Trip Log June 16: Amanda


Sometimes we learn more from what we don’t know than from what we know. And when we learn about what we don’t know, the ground under our feet — and the spirit within us — can change.

Every year I hike up to the lookout at Cape Perpetua on the Oregon coast. On a clear day you can see 70 miles of coastline. Sometimes it’s bright and sunny; sometimes dark and mysterious. Either way, I’m always in awe of the beauty.

But there’s a detour I’ve previously avoided: the Amanda Trail. 3.2 miles steep downhill into the town of Yachats, and then the steep 3.2 mile return climb — too much for me. Better to stay at the lookout and enjoy the world from up here.

But still, every year when I pass by the trail I wonder: who is Amanda? Why is this trail named after her? This year, 2018, I decide it’s time for me to learn. I’ll start low, on the coast, and hike up. That way the return trip will be easier.

As the climb begins from the outskirts of Yachats into the forest, there are signs and information from the people who built and maintain the trail.

And I begin to learn what I don’t know. About the Ya’Xaik people, a band of the Alsea Tribe who lived here peacefully on the coast, in what is now Yachats, for thousands of years. About how they sustained themselves through hunting, fishing, and wild plants in the forest. About their travel and trade with other tribes, their relationship with the earth, their way of life.

Then I learn about the white hunters, trappers and settlers. And how the U.S. Army came in and displaced the native people from their land. How they forcibly moved them to a coastal reservation, made a treaty with them and then broke the treaty. And how, during the 16 years that the notorious Alsea Sub-agency managed the reservation, half of the native population died of starvation, exposure, disease and abuse.

Then I learn about Amanda. Amanda De-Cuys. She was living with a white settler with whom she had a little daughter, Julia, eight years old. Amanda was blind. U.S. soldiers came to remove her and march her to the reservation. The white settler could have saved her by marrying her, but he refused. Corporal Royal Bengal, who was with the expedition, kept a journal. Amanda and Julia held onto each other crying, before Amanda was finally dragged away. She had no shoes. They marched her, together with other Indians that they had rounded up, over the volcanic rocks of Perpetua to the reservation at Yachats. Corporal Bengal wrote how Amanda tore her feet on the rock, leaving pools of blood. After they finally got Amanda to the reservation, there is no further record of her, or of Julia.

Yachats Early Residents
Trail Sign
A Brief Tribal History
Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians.
Amanda’s story
Trail Sign

 
Finally I learn about how in the community of Yachats, descendants of white settlers have come together with descendants of the tribal peoples who lived here for thousands of years, to solemnly recognize the dark history of this area, and to honor the people who suffered, by honoring Amanda. It took decades, and the complexity of interfacing with countless local, state, and federal agencies, but eventually the trail commemorating her heart-breaking journey, Amanda’s Trail, got built. And they went further and created a sacred grove, with a statue of Amanda, and a log circle for people to come and sit, contemplate, and solemnly pay their respects.

The relationship between Yachats and the Tribes has grown since. Amanda is a testament to helping First Nations Peoples transcend historical trauma. It has inspired and united the Yachats community. Knowing, understanding and appreciating our local First Nations’ history by our local community and the public at large [has] helped heal the wounds, bringing reconciliation and collaboration to a previously divided people.

Joanne Kittel, Yachats Trails Committee
A Solemn and Spiritual Path: The Amanda Trail Story

When I get to the grove and sit in the circle in the presence of Amanda’s statue, I’m overcome with tears. I stay here a long time. I too am here to witness, to cry, to pray. I think of the current dark time in the U.S. where innocent families are being torn apart. How many Amandas and Julias are being tormented today?

The high lookout is a beautiful place. I hope to continue hiking there for many years. But by itself, it is incomplete, hollow, devoid of meaning. I know that now. As long as my travels bring me here, and as long as my feet can carry me, I hope to also hike on Amanda’s trail.

A final prayer: may the sacred spirit of this place, together with all of its healing, stay with me as I head home. And may I be more awake and more compassionate as a result.

Aryae’s Trip Log June 15: Magnificence



Of all this vast world, what fills you most with awe, wonder, amazement? Is it the great expanses of space and time, or tiny ones? Is it looking up, or looking down?

I’m contemplating all this today as I hike up the steep Saint Perpetua Trail high above the Oregon coast. Last week I was a guest living among the giant, ancient redwoods. Today the vast spaces of the coast are stretched out before me, but my eye is drawn down instead to the magnificence of the tiny wildflowers.



We learn from the mathematics of fractals how patterns in nature repeat themselves no matter how large or small the scale.



My teacher Reb Shlomo taught that there are different ways of learning. Sometimes it takes a lifetime. Sometimes it happens in one infinite moment.

When she was six years old my daughter Noe said to me, “Dad, did you know that kids know as much as adults?”

“Really?” I said.

“Yeah!” she said. “We just know different things!”

The great Indian poet Rabindranath Tagore wrote: “The butterfly counts not months but moments. And has time enough.”


Apr. 29 Global Wisdom Circle

Apr. 29 Global Wisdom Circle:
Paula Green

Sharing wisdom, experience and support
among global citizens everywhere.

Building Bridges Across the Hills

Paula Green, Ph.D. — psychologist, peace educator, facilitator, and mentor in the field of intergroup relations and conflict resolution — is co-creator, together with other residents of her hometown of Leverett MA, of Hands Across the Hills, a cultural exchange/dialogue between people in western Massachusetts and coal country in Kentucky.

After the 2016 presidential election, as the U.S. descended into a state of greater polaritzation, distrust, and animosity among Americans based on their political affiliation, Paula felt moved to increase her focus on restoring relations between Americans across the divides.

As they’ve discovered a sister community across the political divide, in another part of the U.S., where people are ready to join with them, Paula and her neighbors in Leverett are literally reaching out their Hands Across the Hills. Through this program, Paula now consults with and mentors other communities that hope to bridge divides in their own cities or elsewhere in the country.


Their partners in Letcher County, KY have come together under the auspices of the Letcher County Culture Hub, a network of community-led organizations that work together to build a culture and economy where people own what they make. Ben Fink, lead organizer for the group in Kentucky, also organizes projects for Appalshop, the Appalachian arts and culture institution that was recently featured on the PBS Hews Hour.



You can learn more about Paula, Ben, and their communities, at Hands Across the Hills.


Part 1 — Paula Green & Sharon Dunn: Group interview

Part 2 — Circle of reflection: Stewart Gill, Libby Traubman, Wendy Berk, Aryae, Stewart, Rita Karuna Cahn

Part 3 — Further comments & reflections: Sharon, Paula, Stewart, Aryae, Len Traubman



Mar. 18 Global Wisdom Circle

Mar. 18 OWL Global Wisdom Circle:
Richard Whittaker

Sharing wisdom, experience and support
among global citizens everywhere.

Art as a Gift of the Spirit

Richard Whittaker is the founding editor of works and conversations, an arts magazine published in Berkeley, CA that features interviews with artists from all walks of life.

It all started in the early 1990s, when Richard set out to explore artists’ experiences and reflections about their own art making. What came from that was a series of deeply thoughtful interviews with a wide range of artists. And a magazine.

Although modest in its subscription base, the magazine has attracted a growing number of readers touched by a quality of content missing in other artworld publications. Institutional subscribers, ranging from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, SFMOMA and the Kandinsky Library at the Pompidou Center in Paris to Harvard, Stanford and Columbia Universities and RISD, The Art Institute of Chicago, CCA, SVA and SFAI, subscribe and have archived all of the back issues in their libraries.

In early 2007, Richard met with two friends at a local Taqueria for a conversation that resulted in a radical change, turning a 15-year-old subscription model into a gift-economy experiment. Now the magazine is offered as a gift; in turn, the subscribers are invited to pay-forward a subscription to another reader. It’s an experiment in generosity, and to this day, the magazine costs are covered entirely by unsolicited donations from grateful readers and supporters.

Richard opens doors to the inner worlds of artists, and the mystery of how the spirit becomes art, through his conversations with them. In a 2006 interview with Robin Henderson, he said,

It’s not unusual when I talk with an artist and ask probing, possibly “stupid” questions, the artist tells me “no one ever asks me things like that! My artist friends and I never talk about these things!” There’s something paradoxical about that. I think that in order to have a real exchange people actually have to cross a line, even a little bit, into sincerity.

When Richard was asked for the best bio of himself for people who want to learn more about him, he said, characteristically, “Use this interview.”

Richard Whittaker is also West Coast editor of Parabola magazine.


Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Initial interview: Richard Whittaker

Part 3 — Group interview: Richard Whittaker

Part 4 — Circle of reflection: Libby Traubman, Len Traubman, James Offuh, Rabbi Diane Elliot, Wendy Berk, Sophie Wu, Usman Inuwa, Julie Durkheimer

Part 5 — Closing reflections from Richard



Dec. 10 Spiritual Travelers Circle

Dec. 10 Spiritual Travelers Circle:
Rev. Charles Gibbs

Spiritual travelers
from all backgrounds and traditions,
sharing experience — seeking wisdom.

Spirit and Action in the World Today

The Rev. Canon Charles Gibbs is an Episcopal priest, a visionary and a poet who has dedicated his life to serving the sacred in the world, especially through interreligious and intercultural engagement. His new volume of poetry – Light Reading: Selected Poems from a Pilgrim Journey – is available at Amazon.com.

Charles recently became Senior Partner and Poet-in-Residence for the Catalyst for Peace Foundation, providing leadership and support for CFP’s organizational evolution. Building on its eight-year transformational partnership with Fambul Tok in Sierra Leone, CFP is exploring a new phase of regional and global engagement focused on community-based peacebuilding, healthy whole systems partnerships and leadership development.

From 1996 until his retirement in 2013, he served as the founding executive director of the United Religions Initiative (www.uri.org). As executive director, he worked with thousands of colleagues around the world to guide URI’s growth from a vision to becoming the world’s largest grassroots interfaith network.


We invited Charles to initiate a conversation about a recipe for spiritual well-being — and actions that can bring light, love and healing — in today’s troubled world.


Part 1 — Opening check-ins

Part 2 — Group interview: Rev. Charles Gibbs

Part 3 — Circle of reflection: Charles, Len Traubman, Bob Whitehair, Libby Traubman, Teri Whitehair, James Offuh, Wendy Berk, Rev. Susan Strouse, Aryae, Bonita Banducci, Rabbi Victor Gross

Part 4 — Further reflections by Charles, and closing check-ins