COUNCIL RING

Under the stars and surrounded by towering pines, the Council Ring was where Sequoyans gathered for inspiration and edification, from tribal ceremonies to talks by staff or a guest speaker.  On this page we'll link to online events which carry forward the great tradition of the Council Ring.

All are welcome to contribute links.  If you find an online event that has been recorded as an audio or video clip, or just a great read, which you think would be of particular interest to Sequoyans, please let us know.  Just copy the link and paste it into your message here, along with your name and Sequoyah year(s) and a short descriptive note.

Be sure your computer's audio is enabled and not muted.  Some clips require RealAudio or Flash Player.

 

 

 

The Lost City of Z

The culture of C. Walton Johnson's youth informed his camping philosophy.  His was the era of the naturalist, the outdoorsman, the explorer, the adventurer -- the Era of the Hero.

Among the legendary adventurers of the modern age, from Burton to Stanley to Amundsen (see Cold Comfort) to Shackleton to Teddy Roosevelt, perhaps the most intriguing is Percy Harrison Fawcett.  Intrepid, experienced, seemingly indestructible hero of the Royal Geographic Society, Fawcett, in 1925, with the world watching, set out, with his son and son's best friend, to find "the city of Z," a fabled jungle metropolis in the Amazon basin.  Then, Fawcett and his party vanished.

For over eighty years, countless expeditions attempted to discover what happened to the Fawcett party.  These expeditions were as harrowing as Fawcett's own, and many shared its fate.  The most recent and illuminating was mounted by author David Grann.  Click the image to see a lecture by the author.

 

Here is a slide show by The New Yorker.
Also, visit the author's excellent Web site about the book, including the prologue and first chapter.

 

 

The Wordy Shipmates

Sarah Vowell is a delightful raconteur, whose story of her and her sister's retracing of the Trail of Tears is related below.  This time, Sarah talks about her new book about the Pilgrim Fathers.  The title, Wordy Shipmates, hints at the wit with which she approaches all her subjects.   Her talk lasts about an hour.

 

 

AWOL

The Spirit of Sequoyah is not just about independence but about service.  Only by learning to take care of ourselves can we take care of others.  Only by becoming self-reliant are we able to give as well as take.  Thanks to television, mass-marketing and consumerism, Americans are growing more passive, more dependent, more self-absorbed and narcissistic.  Our era's two watchwords are Me and Now. 

The title of Frank Schaeffer's AWOL:The Unexcused Absence of America's Upper Classes from Military Service -- and How It Hurts Our Country is self-explanatory.  In this Q & A (video clip), Schaeffer eloquently discusses his book and its thesis.

 

 

This I Believe

Victor David Hanson, in an encore appearance, advocates a return to the timeless values of farm life, in a "This I Believe" essay.

And lest we forget the old Danish proverb that life is too important to take too seriously, here's a more whimsical "This I Believe" essay by Jason Sheehan.

 

Understanding Ourselves 

Unless we were classics majors, the Peloponnesian War is probably something we vaguely remember being tested on in school, then promptly forgetting.  Farmer and Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution Victor David Hanson believes that the Peloponnesian War, fought over two thousand four hundred years ago, can teach us something about our own times.  What he has to say is full of wisdom and insight, and he's such a great storyteller, that even the kids and grandkids would be worth corralling to hear this.  Please reserve an hour and a quarter for this event.  It's well worth the time.  Oh yes...and buy the book!

A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War (Video clip)

 

Adventures in the Simple Life

There were "easy" hikes, like the Sloppy Slurch up Reems Creek, and more difficult hikes, like Bald Knob.  Then, there were the Mount Mitchell Preps.  Well, Sequoyan Eustace Conway, Jr., and his brother Judson, took a hike that makes Mount Mitchell seem like a walk in the park, and in doing so set a world record.

The Long Riders

 

The Trail of Tears, continued . . .

One of our rites of passage at Sequoyah was our trip to see Unto These Hills, in Cherokee.  Our formal schooling had introduced us to The Agamemnon, Medea, and other Greek tragedies, but Unto These Hills introduced us to our own  homegrown epic tragedy, as classic as those of the ancients.  I can remember being driven back to camp, after the pageant, in the bus packed with 12-16 year-olds, normally a raucous bunch, to say the least.  Silence.  Stunned silence.  Doubtless, our first confrontation with true historical tragedy and even, for many, our first moral outrage.

Unto These Hills dramatizes the start of The Trail of Tears, The Removal.  Here is the rest of the Trail, related by an American girl and her sister, of part-Cherokee heritage, who followed the Trail from Georgia to Oklahoma.  Please reserve one hour of listening time.

Trail of Tears

 

Water, water everywhere . . .

Despite modern technology, water — its supply, quality and behavior — is still a crucial issue in all societies.  The fate of Sequoyah has always been closely tied to that of the Woodfin watershed.  Those of us who have followed the issue know that politics has played a big part in the watershed's management.  And thus it is, wherever water impacts a community, whether it be bringing water to parched areas like the our Southwest (remember the movie Chinatown), harnessing water along our rivers, or holding back the floods from our coastal areas.

Here is an excellent article on how politics continues to play a major role in the Katrina saga.  It would make a great lecture and discussion for the Council Ring.

The Politics of Flood Control

 

The meaning of life . . .

Chief, Uncle Mike, Paul Neal, Bruce Capps and other Sequoyah leaders knew that adolescence is when we begin seriously to tackle life's Big Issues.  From the timeless bliss of childhood we are thrust into the world of particularity and time.  It happens sooner to some than to others, but it happens.  By adulthood we've reached conclusions about some of these Big Issues, and they inform our world view for the rest of our lives.  Other Big Issues remain unresolved, becoming the basis for what we call the human condition.

Here is a wonderful page of video interviews, with various thinkers pondering the Big Issues.  These clips are short and easy to digest.  There are enough here to provide more than a few summers of Council Ring themes.

Meaning of Life TV

 

A Sequoyah Legend . . .

Red Dawn was a Sequoyah legend, whose tenure at Sequoyah was all too brief.  George T. Harrell, III, shares his reminiscences.

Red Dawn