Saturday, February 16, 2008
Hundreds Begin The Longest Walk 2
Hundreds Begin The Longest Walk 2
News Release February 12, 2008
Media Contacts: Ricardo Tapia
Hundreds Begin The Longest Walk 2: An Indigenous Peoples Spiritual Walk for Survival From California to Washington, D.C.
SACRAMENTO, CA – On Tuesday, February 12th, representatives from hundreds of Native American nations participated in a ceremonial and cultural commencement for the Longest Walk 2, the 30-year anniversary of the historic 1978 Longest Walk. More than two hundred participants of the Longest Walk 2 have embarked on a five-month long trans-continental journey on foot from San Francisco. The walk will arrive in Washington, D.C. on July 11, 2008, bringing attention to issues of environmental injustice, protection of sacred sites, cultural survival, youth empowerment, and eroding Native American rights.
Jimbo Simmons, a representative of the International Indian Treaty Council, original walker, and an organizer of the Longest Walk 2 addressed a crowd of more than 200 people from the steps of California's Capitol in Sacramento. "Thirty years ago we marched from this capital and that's what we're going to do today. We are walking for our land and our people."
"As Indigenous Peoples in the United States the environment and our cultural survival are directly correlated and are still imperiled today. This is why we must walk once again."
"We started at Alcatraz and went to the University of Berkeley where over 12,000 remains of Indigenous Ancestors are stored in boxes; Oak Grove where tree-sitters are protecting a sacred Ohlone burialsite; Glen Cove a very sacred burial site for our people; and Pena Adobe where burials were desecrated for Highway 80 and the ancestors bones put into a mass grave. This is the kind of disrespect we go through. We recognize that all life is sacred!" stated Simmons.
Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement and organizer and participant of the Longest Walk 2 stated, "We will always remember who we are. We will never forget our cultural duties. We won't forget that, America. We will never forget. We are coming to you America and we will have and have always had the answers." "Along both routes we will listen to Native peoples concerns, document and deliver them to US officials in DC, our call of action will have an impact." Banks said.
The Longest Walk 2 comprises two routes that will cover more than 8,000 miles in total through communities all across Turtle Island.
Both the Northern and Southern routes joined together with several hundred people at the Rumsey Band of Wintun Rancheria to take the first steps of the walk. A press conference was later held at the state capitol, which was originally the site of a Maidu village.
Expressing concerns and need for action to protect the environment and Native American rights, Don Ryberg, Chairman of the Tsi-Akim Maidu stated, "Our way of life, ceremonies, songs, our creeks and rivers are left poisoned with mercury and other contaminants. The federal government has a trust responsibility to all the people. The government doesn't care about cleanup, how it impacts Maidu and all people. Every human has a right to a clean glass of water." The Maidu Nation presented a resolution calling on the state to take action for the protection of their land and culture from mercury and other contaminants in their water.
Corrina Gould, a member of the Muwekma Ohlone Nation and co-founder of Indian People Organizing for Change, stated, "We walk to tell the American public and the government that we have a religion and the responsibility and right to care for our ancestors. The prayers are going to be recognized and we will be heard."
"We're not federally recognized but as an Ohlone woman I am still here, we are still here and we know that we exist."
During the press conference, a representative for California Senator Alex Padilla presented the California state Legislature with a proclamation in support of the Longest Walk 2.
The proclamation stated, "Participants will walk for the seventh generation of Native American youth, for peace and justice, and for the healing of our planet, and they will walk for the healing of those in the Native American community who suffer from diabetes, heart conditions, alcoholism, drug addiction, and other diseases…" "The participants of the Longest Walk 2 pledge to prevail in their mission to call attention to the issues which effect the Native American community-at-large."
People from all over the world including Poland, Japan, Russia, England, Mexico, Peru, Israel, Sweden, and Australia have joined the walk with its peaceful and spiritual call to action to protect Mother Earth and defend Human Rights.
Gilberto Perez a Nipponzan Myohoji Monk who has joined the walk stated, "We are one earth, one race. We have to take care of Mother Earth now. There is no time to waste."
Tawna Sanchez, who is Shoshone Bannock and Ute, stated, "How do we present ourselves as caretakers of Mother Earth on the reservations or anywhere in urban areas if we don't hold ourselves accountable for the same things that are holding others accountable to? We want to hold big industry accountable for quality air control, we want them not to log, not to clear-cut, but to a certain degree we are doing that to ourselves. We are not holding our own tribal governments accountable. We are not holding our own tribal people accountable for protecting the earth. And we need to do that."
Sanchez, who was 16 on the original walk of 1978 also encouraged the young walkers, "You're making a sacred journey, from the very beginning. The ceremony starts from Alcatraz and you're in ceremony for 5 months."
Bill Camp, Executive Secretary, Sacramento Central Labor Council stated, "160,000 AFL & CIO families in the Sacramento area support your strength and vision because you are the future of this land. We stand in solidarity with you against the unrestrained pursuit of greed that is killing our mother the earth. Working people across this land support you."
A statement supporting the Longest Walk 2 was made on behalf of DQ University, which is recognized as the home of the original Longest Walk. A presentation of the original DQ flag was also given to walkers.
During the 1978 Longest Walk, thousands converged on California's capitol to begin the effort that defeated 11 pieces of legislation in Congress that would have abrogated Native American Treaties. As a resultof the 1978 Walk, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (1978) was passed.
Tony Gonzales, member of the American Indian Movement and International Indigenous Activist, stated, "This is one of the five countries in the world that voted against the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples out of 190 countries that supported it. By refusing to sign this declaration they are denying the holocaust, the genocide of Indian people. It stands as testament to the United States current attitude towards Native Americans and Indigenous Peoples throughout the world. We want the US to sign the declaration."
The Longest Walk is an Indigenous Peoples walk and is open to people of all nations and cultures. Everyone is invited to join in and participate in the walk atany point in time on either route, for any length of the route. For complete route itinerary and additional information, please visit: www.longestwalk.org.
Please go to our photo section at www.myspace.com/longestwalkevent to see new photos of this great and historical event