Ochoco Prayer Vigil

Sunday, September 07, 2008 , Posted by TheMidnightWriter at 1:06 PM

According to the local Ranger Rob, the fires that burned over 5500 acres in the Ochoco National Forest are basically out with some hot spots being mopped up and watched.  There are a couple road closures, one of the roads being just beyond the entrance to Indian Prairie. However, the prairie was untouched and the road to it is open. Forest Service advises folks to exercise caution if and when entering this region. Forest Service is asking people to be especially careful with any fires. Be sure not to leave them unattended.

Bridge Creek Fire 

Bridge Creek Fire

The flames remind me of the volcanic sunsets I 've been seeing this month due to the volcanic activity in Alaska. Seems like fire is everywhere cleansing the land. Now the water has come to put out the fires in some places and to finish the cleansing process. There are series of hurricanes, tornadoes and devastating floods around the country presently. These events are a reminder that people are subject to nature and that God and nature need to be dealt with in respect and honor.

medicine lodge

Medicine Lodge Ochoco Memorial Gathering 2007

Medicine Dancer and his crew built this sweat lodge at the Mountain Spirit Tribe Medicine Wheel Gathering in the Ochoco National Forest at Indian Prairie last September 11-23, 2007.  It served as a focus prayer camp for nine days of sweat lodge. The communal spirit of folks at this small gathering was very inspiring.

Folks who attended last year held counsels about the gathering itself, about the formation of the Mountain Spirit Tribe and its future events and purpose. A consensus was reached by all present during the vision counsel circle that all who wanted to become part of the tribe and/or the Medicine Wheel Gatherings, would gather purposely at Indian Prairie for the next four years. It was also a concensus that both spring and fall gatherings would be held.

This year, some unexpected events with the annual rainbow gathering in Wyoming, along with personal loss and tragedy with the death of our brother (Raven and Summer Breeze) Kenny, which prevented our focus in calling the counsels or in preparing for the spring or fall events. However, we are gaining our momentum and focus once again. We will be dedicating a lot of time this fall and winter in the focalizing of the upcoming gatherings in 2009 for the Mountain Spirit Tribe and its Medicine Wheel Gatherings.

Raven and I are in Boise heading to the Ochoco to personally view the damage of the fires in that region.  It is our hope to take photographs and to write a story about the fires for our blogs. I have contemplated making a story submission to some of the outdoor magazines as well to get my freelance writing "feet wet". Regardless of success in that venture, we will interview some forest service personnel, locals who live in the area, and some of the wild fire fighters in hopes of getting a balanced and fair account of the wildfires in the Ochoco.

We have hesitated in calling anyone to assemble in the region because of the recent fires and our concerns for public safety. We have been in communication with the local resource Ranger and the District Ranger through him.

The Forest Service Office is located in Prineville, Oregon for this forest. Information about the fires is available online at the Forest Service website. Just type in Oregon and select Ochoco National Forest to find the information links about the fires.


  burning tree

Burning Tree in the Ochoco Fires

The pictures that I have been posting were obtained from the Forest Service website links that Ranger Rob sent to me.  In our correspondence, Rob has been helpful in giving me information and updates about the fires. Rob has tried to work it out with the new District Ranger for the Mountain Spirit Tribe to return there this month. We have the green light to show up about September 10 and permission to stay a week or two. Hunting season starts late September and it usually snows at least once by then.  The weather still has warm and dry days up until November.

Last year, the hunters were not a problem for us at all, as Rob acknowledged. The road closure orders will not affect the gathering either because the road to the prairie is open. This road is directly across from the tapped spring, which is the sole water source that is potable.

Tomorrow, I will most likely notify some members of the Mountain Spirit Tribe who expressed an interest in attending the gathering again this fall by way of email and phone. The prayer assembly will not be a big event like the memorial rainbow gathering tribute last year. We decided to keep it low key and off the internet except for this report on my blog to keep the numbers down, to protect the area and the people from any fire damage hazards, and to avoid hassle from Law Enforcement and the Forest Service over the permit issue that is always required at a rainbow gathering by the government. Since Mark Rey is not talking to us after the Wyoming disaster at Kiddie Village, we are uncertain of his position on the continued talks and co-operation with use of an operating plan, as has always been done at the rainbow gatherings. However, the Ranger will work with us on the operating plan alternative. I am believing the numbers will not reach 75, so the discussion on a permit being required will be moot.

Watch for more updates and my future articles for publication regarding the fires in the Ochoco National Forest as well as the regulations discussions with the Forest Service.

Story submitted by The Midnight Writer

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