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Mike Volpe

The Final Step

Yesterday I took the final steps of the Trail of Hope. I can’t believe it is finally finished! It has been long journey and I’m grateful that I was able to end it in such a special way.

The night before last, I spent the evening at the Delaware Indian Pow-Wow grounds about 17 miles from Bartlesville. I was joined by the Assistant Delaware Chief Chet Brooks and Michael Adair. We left the grounds at midnight so we would arrive around noon in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

By 7am a big thunderstorm came into the area and showered rain down throughout the remainder of our walk. It doesn’t seem ironic that the first steps of the Trail of Hope were taken in the middle of a light drizzle and later, a steady rain. In my first post of the Trail, I stated that I felt like the rain was blessing the Trail ahead, washing away any danger, and helping me to feel safe that everything would turn out all right. Alas, the final steps of the Trail were also made during a rainstorm, blessing everything behind me and the paths I will take in the future.

 

Despite the elements I was immensely proud that both men stepped up to the challenge and graciously accompanied me with such bravery. When we arrived in Bartlesville we enjoyed a nice lunch and I met some very gracious and friendly people. Everyone seemed excited to see me and talk with me about the Trail. I was grateful to meet Joe Brooks, Chet’s brother and we had a nice talk together. He shared a heartfelt speech and I feel honored to know him and his brother.

A little later, around 6pm, I received an official welcoming by the Chief in the official Delaware Indian language. I talked to those present, sharing my triumphs and challenges I encountered along the Trail. A lady from the local Bartlesville history center presented me with a book. The Delaware Indians presented me with a different kind of gift and I was extremely grateful. I in turn presented a seedling from the direct descendent of the Great Elm Tree given to me by the tree keepers at Haverford College as well as gifts from the Penn Treaty Museum and some of my pictures, posters and the official Trail of Hope picture.

I felt honored to be among my Delaware Indian friends and to share the Trail of Hope with them, closing out an epic adventure and a heartfelt tribute. I felt accepted by them and am grateful for their warm welcome as I arrived in Bartlesville.  I’m hoping that a long lasting friendship will develop and flourish for “as long as the creeks and rivers run, and while the sun, moon and stars endure.”