Leslie Boyd • LBoyd@CITIZEN-TIMES.com
June 17, 2008
ASHEVILLE – A group of American Indians walking cross-country to
raise awareness of environmental and justice issues stopped in
Asheville on Tuesday for a gathering in Martin Luther King Jr. Park.
The Longest Walk 2 kicked off in San Francisco in February with two
groups of walkers, one taking a northern route and this one, walking
a southern route. The group has about 100 core walkers, but about
3,000 people have joined the walk for a day or more along the way.
Dennis Banks, one of the founders of the American Indian Movement in
the 1960s, leads the southern walkers.
"We all need to write to our representatives in government and ask
why there is so much pollution in the Colorado River and all the
other places," he told the gathering.
Banks talked about caring for the environment and ourselves.
"We have the worst diet in the world," he said. "Not number 10 0r 20,
but the worst. We fill ourselves full of sugar and impurities, and
then after we finish our fast food meal, we push back and light a cigarette."
Also on the walk was Nathan Leroy of Arizona, whose ancestry is
traced to five different tribes.
"It's about our land and the people living on it," he said. " She
gives us all we need and we need to take care of her. She is our
mother and we have to protect what's left of her sacred places."
The two groups of walkers will come together in Washington on July
11. This walk marks the 30th anniversary of the original Longest
Walk, which brought people to Washington to protest legislation that
would have terminates several treaties between the federal government
and tribes nationwide.
For more information on The Longest Walk 2, visit www.longestwalk.org.