American Indian walkers trek across America
February 18, 2008
by F.T. Norton
Appeal Staff Writer
In the seventh day of a cross-country walk to protect sacred American Indian sites, a group of walkers prayed near the Washoe Tribe’s sacred Cave Rock in Lake Tahoe on Monday morning. The prayer was interrupted by fishermen who wanted to use the dock, said Jimbo Simmons.
“They came down saying how they paid for this dock and how long were we going to be there and who do we think that we are to stand there and pray,” Simmons recalled. “That was just a lack of respect. What we would like is respect.”
About 80 American Indians and others sympathetic to the plight, left Alcatraz Island in San Francisco on Feb. 11 to embark on a 3,600-mile journey on foot to Washington, D.C. Expected to take five months, The Longest Walk 2 is to commemorate a march that was completed 30 years ago, and to bring awareness to the environment and support the preservation of American Indian sacred sites.
Simmons took part in that first walk when he was 22 years old. Today he is a coordinator for the event.
This group walking the northern route arrived in Northern Nevada on Sunday night and walked from south Carson City to the Carson Colony on Monday morning. After taking part in a Pow Wow and spending the night at the gymnasium there, they leave this morning to continue their trek to Silver Springs. On Wednesday they move on to Fallon, eventually reaching Utah between March 1 and March 3. The walkers expect to hit Colorado on March 14 and Kansas on April 8. And before their final destination in the nation’s capital on July 11, they’ll visit Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland.
The southern route walkers also left Alcatraz on Feb. 11 and will make their way through Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Virginia.
Willie Lonewolf of Oakland intends to walk the whole route.
“I’m dedicating this walk to my ancestors,” said the drum keeper and singer. “We need to be aware of what’s going on in America.”
Tony Bautista, of Sacramento, is not walking any farther than Carson City. Life gets in the way sometimes, Bautista said, and he only had enough time to make the California to Nevada trek.
But he felt so strongly about the message that the walk conveys he needed to take part.
“A lot of the Native American sites are getting exploited, and that’s what a big part of this walk is about, but it’s also about sacred sites from around the world,” he said, noting one of the walkers is a Japanese Buddhist monk who came to the U.S. specifically for the event.
Bautista said anyone can take part, even if they just walk a short distance. If you care enough about the mission, walking just a few blocks is enough, he said.
“Yesterday when we were in Tahoe, there might have been 50 people walking. Today, the children from around here walked with us, there were at least 20 children around us,” he said.
A mobile solar-powered Web-streaming radio station is going along with the north route walkers. They Web cast LIVE daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. According to the longestwalk.com Web site, the purpose of the Northern route is to carry the message from the Longest Walk of 1978: “The Longest Walk is an Indian spiritual walk, a historical walk; and it is a walk for educational awareness to the American and the world communities about the concerns of American Indian people. This route will carry the message of Renewing the Spirit by Walking in the Footsteps of our Ancestors.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at email@example.com or 881-1213.