The Longest Walk 2008

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 Change” 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.”

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