Arriving on foot, the American Indian Movement reached Fallon Tuesday to help educate the community about substance abuse and domestic violence.
Headed for Washington, D.C., the group kicked off in San Francisco Feb. 12. The plan is to arrive in D.C. by July 15 to rally for the historic event at the Lincoln Memorial. This isn’t the first “Longest Walk” and the event draws people from across the nation.
The current campaign is the second of three historic walks across the United States. The effort says it serves as a sort of search and rescue party, also aiding healing and seeking solutions as well as providing a spiritual journey for anyone would like to join in at any point and for however long.
“We are a moving provider on foot,” said run captain Kid Valance, originally from Kentucky but now residing in Rogue Valley, Ore.
(Valance actually took his name from the 1962 western film “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.”)
Gina Marie Quninen of New Mexico said she has been involved with the movement since she was a little girl. She facilitated Wednesday’s local presentation and workshop at the Fallon Paiute-Shoshone Tribe’s gym.
“The reception here has been beautiful,” she said. “We didn’t schedule a meeting last night (Tuesday), but the local people brought food and gave us an opportunity to visit.”
The group is taking off today at about 9 a.m. from the gym and eventually heading east; anyone is invited to join in for some exercise or come by earlier for fellowship.
Valance said incidences of domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse are high on the reservations. Although he did note, in the last 20 years, many reservations have added facilities to help mitigate these problems.
Quninen said the stigma on reservations has not totally been removed, and this is an organization with a focus — to show the abuse of drugs and domestic violence.
“All lives matter, that’s what we believe,” said the movement’s national chief, Bobby Wallace from the Barona Band of Mission Indians Kumeyaay.
Wallace said their mission is to talk about what’s lacking in communities, what the needs are. He described the huge contribution of everyone involved, for example the planning stages, run/walk leaders, support vehicles as well as the research gathering and analysis that goes into the cause. Anonymous surveys are done along the way and the statistics presented at the annual rally.
Valance said the surveys, information that is shared to assist communities and their organizations, also provide an idea of what resources are and are not available on reservations.
“We’ve had great luck and people are receptive,” Wallace said.
Additionally group discussions include handling other life challenges from mental to physical health.
This year’s central route will pass through Pine Ridge, Wounded Knee and according to Valance hopefully Standing Rock — despite the current protests regarding an oil pipeline’s continued construction.
Twenty-three participants are dedicated to the end of the journey, Wallace said. Others have had to adjust their schedules based on personal reasons.
“We’re all from different parts of the country,” he added.
This year traveling through Davis and Sacramento, the group then dealt with rough weather and arrived in Carson City before the weekend. They stayed in the Fallon tribe’s gym and also received assistance from the Churchill County Senior Center.
In 2016, the movement walked and ran through 13 states, crossed 18 mountain ranges, visited 53 tribal communities and held 100 gatherings.
In 1968 Dennis Banks founded the international movement. Banks, from the Anishinaabe Ojibwe tribe, is a Native American leader, teacher, lecturer, activist and author.
Participant Johnnie Bobb told Native News Online web editor Arthur Jacob while both were in Fallon he joined the walk in Carson City. Bobb also mentioned he joined the Western Shoshone National Council over 47 years ago.
“I’m struggling right now,” Bobb said. “But I will get by with them across the country, halfway maybe,” he said — adding he enjoyed the Fallon community gathering pow-wow, talking circle and youth playing volleyball.
The group is looking for volunteers to help spread awareness or walk with them. Trip hosts are also encouraged.
For more information, visit www.longestwalk.us. The national fundraiser also has a Go Fund Me page at www.gofundme.com/n9qbmvn2.