'Longest Walk' Reaches Washington
by Sally Arthy
Published on Friday, July 11, 2008 by Sky News
WASHINGTON - Thousands of demonstrators are gathering in Washington
DC after a five month long journey across America to draw attention
to the state of the environment and press for the protection of
sacred Native American sites.Thirty years ago, 40,000 Native
Americans and their supporters participated in an historic
cross-country march called the Longest Walk.
They travelled 3,600 miles from San Francisco to Washington gathering
support to successfully halt bills before Congress, that Native
Americans said threatened their sovereignty.
Commemorating that event, two groups of walkers set out from Alcatraz
Island last February.
The Longest Walk 2 was longer by demand according to organiser Dennis
Banks, who founded the first walk in 1978.
One group passed through southern states like Texas, Alabama and
Tennessee while the northern delegation has walked through
Pennsylvania and surrounding states.
Along the way they have picked up 3,800 bags of trash and gathered a
list of American-Indian worries - everything from concern about
burial grounds under threat in Kentucky to fears about the future of
the Arizona Mountains threatened by ski resort development.
Today the marchers are due to end their journey at the White House
and later present a 30-page manifesto to a Democratic Congressman,
Rep. John Conyers, who advocates on a wide range of minority issues.
Some sceptics have questioned the impact a group of people on foot can have.
But one marcher, Shanawa Littlebow, has no doubts.
"To say it doesn't work, it's to say a wheel doesn't work when it's
turning. We're turning. We're walking. It's working," he said.
The Longest Walk 2008
8,000-Mile Walk for Native American Rights, Environmental Protection,
and to Stop Global Warming Reaches Destination in DC
WASHINGTON, DC -- The answer to one of the biggest questions in
Washington D.C. has been manifesting for over five months and more
than 8,000 miles that span across the sacred grounds of living
sovereign nations. The question is what steps can be taken to make
known that "All Life Is Sacred, Save Mother Earth?"
175 days (4,200 hours) ago, walkers from all over Indian country as
well as international allies embarked on a journey that carried them
through rain, snow, and even a tornado.
Two paths were taken to make the journey, both a Northern and
Southern route, in order to bring awareness to and address
environmental and sacred sites protection, cultural survival, youth
empowerment, and Native American rights.
Thousands of walkers, among whom were newborn babies and elders in
their 90s, representing more than 100 Nations joined the Walk along
the way. The Navajo (Dine' Nation), Hopi, Apache, Havasupai,
Tunica-Biloxi, Anishinaabeg, Wintun, Hualapai, Lakota, Six Nations,
Ute, Washo, and many others as well as representatives from New
Zealand, Germany, Japan, Italy, Holland, Poland comprised the diverse
Walk. As they walked they picked up more than 8,000 bags of trash on
the roads they traveled.
At 2 o'clock today The Longest Walk will reach the steps of the US
capitol. Walk representatives will meet with House Judiciary Chair,
US Representative John Conyers (D-MI) to deliver a "Manifesto for
along with the original manifesto from the 1978 Longest Walk
which had initially been refused by Congress.
The Manifesto for Change is the testimony of the conditions of
Indigenous communities collected by the Walkers along both routes.
"The manifesto is the result of this five-month journey to gather
support for a call to action to protect our sacred sites and to clean
up mother earth and deliver the voice of the people to congress and
demand congress to act." -- Yaynicut Franco.
"We have witnessed the desecration of sacred sites by the United
States government, corporations, developers, and individual
citizens," said Jimbo Simmons, Northern Route coordinator for the
Longest Walk 2 and representative of the American Indian
Movement. "We have also seen extreme pollution of our lands by
littering, coal-fired power plants, and toxic waste dumps. We have
seen extreme poverty and religious persecution and heard testimony of
denial of religious freedom to prisoners."
The Walkers were inspired by the spirit of resistance that supported
them in many communities like the Carson City Indian Colony in Nevada
where they were warmly welcomed after walking through the snow, and
Oklahoma where the Muskogee Cherokee Iowa Nation butchered a buffalo
and commended the efforts of the Walkers.
"Most of these issues are identical to those encountered by the
original Walk in 1978," said Yaynicut Franco. "Both Manifestos
attest to the affirmation of the sovereignty and ongoing resistance
of Indigenous peoples. The lack of responsible action will no longer
be tolerated. The Manifesto is a demand for immediate responsible action."