Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Native Friends, A Rehabilitated Bald Eagle–Good Sign!


"Volt," the rehabilitated bald eagle must now face other challenges

©Bert Gildart: Though the last day of the Powwow in Fairbanks, Alaska, was highlighted by the drama of releasing a rehabilitated bald eagle back into the wild, for us it was equally as exciting to see people whom we once knew well from so many different Native villages. Before the day was over, we saw friends with whom we’d enjoyed many exotic adventures. With them we’d watched the spectacle of northern lights streaming overhead; enjoyed the warmth of a stove fire as outside temperatures had dipped to -50ºF… been awed when a herd of caribou had run rampant along a dusty village road.

Still, it was the Powwow and all of its excitement that had brought us together and there is no question, ceremonies began with a real attention getter. “Volt,” a young bald eagle, had flown into a high-powered line and had been laid wide open, but careful medical attention had restored the bird to good health. Because of Native spirituality, it was thought the local Fairbanks Indian group would be the appropriate organization to release Volt–and we all watched eagerly to see if the eagle would react as hoped.


Volt had been kept in a cage, and when the door opened, the bird took a faltering leap, but then, on strong wings it powered its way to the top of a nearby tree. Upon landing, the local drummers beat out their approval–and the crowd cheered. Ravens and gulls, however, sensing a dangerous intrusion began dive bombing the young bald eagle. Again, we wondered what might happen.

For a few moments, it appeared as though its antagonists might rule the day, driving the bird off its tenuous perch. The eagle hunkered down, but then it reared up, as though trying to seize one of its antagonists in its deadly talons. Before long, the ravens and gulls departed, leaving the young eagle to other concerns.


I had been watching the release with Kenneth Frank of Arctic Village. Janie and I knew his family would also be there, but didn’t know so many of our other acquaintances would attend.


(L to R: Me on the far right; dance ceremonies throughout day; eagle head dress; Kenneth and daughter Crystal, a most accomplished family. For larger image, click each photo)

That afternoon we saw friends from Old Crow, Venetie, Steven’s Village, and even Rampart-villages located along interior river systems of Canada and Alaska. In part because of our interest in wildlife, in hunting and fishing, we had cherished our years with them in the ‘90s as teachers–and later as journalists. But as the years went by, we developed strong friendships because of shared empathies and mutual respect. Now we were together attending a ceremony that was loaded with lots of exciting activities.

After the release of the eagle, dance ceremonies began, and the MC encouraged all to participate. “Come on now, you don’t have to be an FBI (full-blooded Indian Kenneth told us) to participate. Look at that pretty lady (pointing to Janie); we want to her dance.”


Before the day was over, both Janie and I attempted various dances, then later, Kenneth twisted my arm hard enough so I joined him and about 25 others in a game of musical chairs. Donations were requested for all the groups (children, women, and finally men) and though the crowd was generous with the other groups, it was a bit stingy on the men. We topped out at $145, which was nothing to sneeze at, though it was a mute point for me, as I was one of the first to be put out.


Drummers help dramatize the eagle's successful return to the wild.

All too soon the day ended. Our friends said they’d be attending the World Eskimo Indian Olympics held every year in Fairbanks in mid July, and we said we would be too. As we departed Volt lifted from its perch on the top of a tall spruce and flew to a more distant branch.

“Good sign,” said one of our friends. “I think we’ll see you real soon!”

“Yes,” we agreed. “Very good sign!”



*Global Warming in Glacier National Park


Comments are closed.