Longest Walk 2 takes break at USM
By VALERIE WELLS
May 30, 2008
Burning sage and beating drums, about 80 participants in the Longest
Walk 2 stopped to make a circle around the Medicine Wheel Garden at
the University of Southern Mississippi campus on Thursday.
The group is walking from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., to draw
attention to environmental issues.
They set up camp Thursday at Southern Miss during their Hattiesburg stop.
Leading the group was American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis J. Banks, 75.
"This country is doing more (than) its share to destroy the Earth,"
Banks said. "It's bad that America is a leading polluter of
"We walk to save Mother Earth," said Oh-zah-nah-qwat, or Yellow
Cloud, of Leeds Lake, Minn. "The elders say she's dying. We have to
work hard. We have to give of ourselves."
Others had different reasons for walking.
"We're still here, Native Americans. There's not many of us left, but
there's a few," said Roger Duncan, 73, of Round Valley Reservation in
Duncan walked in the 1978 Longest Walk, which brought attention to 11
legislative bills introduced in the 95th U.S. Congress considered
detrimental to Native Treaties protecting remaining Native
sovereignty. All of the bills were defeated in Congress.
This year's walkers have filled more than 3,000 trash cans full of
trash they've collected on the road.
"I didn't know there was so much trash in America," said Raymond
Muckuk, 40, of Ontario, Canada. "I'm walking for the people of the
world and to realize how fragile the world really is."
Antonio Cardenas, 49, of Woodburn, Ore., walks for many reasons. One
of his concerns is the building of a physical barrier on the U.S. and
"There's animals and life that moves through there," Cardenas said.
"The harmony between Canada and Mexico and South America is there.
They've always traded and shared life. There's ancient civilizations."
After spending the night in Hattiesburg, the group planned to start
out again this morning. The walkers' visit was supported by the
Southern Miss Golden Eagle Intertribal Society.
The five-month, 4,400-mile journey is expected to end July 11 in
When they get to D.C., they plan to talk to government leaders.
"We'll say what we saw and what we recommend," Banks said. "We'll
issue a manifesto to Congress."
Group accentuates harmony in walk
By Peter Silas Pasqua, The Weekly Citizen
Published: Friday, May 30, 2008
DONALDSONVILLE - "Red Horse" carried a walking staff complete with an
arrowhead from his native state of Arizona and a feather from a bald
eagle as he marched down Railroad Avenue during a organized walk to
promote conservation Wednesday.
He was one of nearly 100 participants partaking in a five-month 4,400
mile journey from San Francisco to Washington D.C. known simply as
the "Longest Walk 2."
The excursion, led by American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis J.
Banks, commemorates the Longest Walk of 1978, which successfully
brought attention to 11 legislative bills introduced to the U.S.
Congress that would have nullified Native American treaties with
government. All 11 bills failed.
The focus of this year's walk is to engage the public about the
disharmony of the environment by leading an effort to clean up
communities. Participants collect debris found along their
"We walk for the generation past, generation present and the
generation to come," said Larry Bringing Good, a spokesman for the
American Indian Movement. "We hope this message is carried on so that
the children of the world can enjoy some of the beautiful, natural
things on this world that we grew up with."
Emmett "Ta-wakan-hde-ota" Easton, a 76-year-old runner who just
completed the Boston Marathon, said the journey is accomplished by
what is known as the "crow hop," where several runners cover certain distances.
"You run to a mark," Easton said. "Nearly simultaneously."
Runner Ammon Russell said it differs from a regular relay.
"It is a system of running to cover more ground in a timely manner,"
Russell said. "You have runners strung out to cover a distance."
Mayor Leroy Sullivan presented Bringing Good a key to the city and
welcomed participants to Donaldsonville.
"Donaldsonville is a city that is rich in history and has a very
diverse culture which includes the Tchitimatches and Houmas Indians,"
Bringing Good was unaware of Donaldsonville's history, but noted
there are many diverse cultures and tribes on what he calls "turtle
island," referring to the North American continent
"It sticks up and it is full of life," Bringing Good said. "The
symbol of life is the turtle."
Upon arrival to Louisiana Square, walkers were "smudged" with smoke
from dried sage.
"We use it to cleanse ourselves," spokesperson Andrea Murillo said.
"It takes away all the negative energies and opens you up to good
spirits. It is part of ceremony. It is very sacred."
Murillo said smudging occurs before and after walking when
participants come together in a circle to represent unity.
The group then moved to Ascension Catholic of Our Lord Catholic
Church to view a Native American motif painted above the altar.
"We thought this would really be special for those walking to see
their heritage honored," Ascension Parish Tourist Commission Projects
and Events Manager Ramon Gomez said.
Historian Louis "Boo" LeBlanc gave a tour of the cathedral that
traces its roots back to when the parish was founded in 1772.
"Red Horse," an artist, acknowledged the design high above the altar
is Native American.
"Everyone has their own interpretation," he said. "It could be a
shield, but at the same time different. That is my translation of it
but then again it is translucent at the same time."
"Red Horse" said the Navajo weaving in the motif originated in Europe
as he authenticated the less contemporary walking staff in hand.
"This is sacred," he said.
The movement plans to rest in Houma for five days before moving on to