The Longest Walk 4: Return to Alcatraz
In 1978 11 bills were introduced in the United States Congress that if passed would have harmed American Indian sovereign rights, with the worst of the bills calling for the abrogation of all Indian Treaties. This inspired some people such as Dennis Banks and Bill Wahpepah to come up with a way of raising awareness about these bills and building support for Inidan Treaty rights. They came up with an idea for a Walk across the land from Alcatraz to Washington D.C. So on February 11th, 1978 The Longest Walk began with a Ceremony on Alcatraz where a Sacred Pipe was filled, and that Pipe was carried across the land, with staffs and other sacred items. What started as a response to anti-Indian legislation soon became an affirmation of Indigenous Sovereignty. The Longest Walk was a spiritual walk, and the prayers were felt and heard by many Indigenous Peoples, as well as other Peoples from the four directions. The same cannot be said by those in Washington DC. Although all but one of the bills did not pass, the attitude in Washington toward finding new and creative ways to diminish Indian sovereignty did not end.
Many years have passed, and the struggle for Indigenous Sovereignty has carried on and grown in many places and among many Indigenous nations. There have been many sacred Walks and Runs such as The Longest Walk 2 (Northern and Southern Routes) and 3, the Sacred Run, the Peace and Dignity Runs, Water Walks, Freedom for Leonard Peltier Walk, and many others. We have also seen the rise of Idle No More bring these issues to light for a new generation. We acknowledge all of these, especially the recent inspirational Journey of Nishiyuu Walk by young people from the James Bay, and give thanks for what they have inspired and the prayers and spiritual strength they have generated.
A number of people who were on The Longest Walk in 1978, and a number of these other Walks and Runs, have seen the messages being carried to political leaders and to the non-Indigenous public many times only to have token support and then be forgotten about. We have seen the nation-states take the words of sovereignty, self determination and self government and twist them to achieve an agenda of assimilation and corporataziation, thus achieving the abrogation of treaties through stealth. We have seen agreements and settlements with hidden clauses and small print that amount to self termination. We have seen the mantra of “good governance” being used to undermine the “good government” necessary for us as Indigenous Peoples to carry on with our responsibilities to our People, Lands and Waters.
On July 15th,, 2013 we will begin a Walk for our own Indigenous Peoples, to support all those Indigenous Peoples and Nations that are carrying on the struggle of affirming Indigenous Sovereignty; whether it be by stopping the exploitation of the land such as through tar sands development and pipelines; protecting and maintaining traditional spiritual beliefs; protecting sacred sites; stopping the exploitation or Indigenous women and children; and any other ways that People are affirming Indigenous Sovereignty rooted in the principles of respect and responsibility; with the guiding force is land based spiritual beliefs.
Alcatraz means a lot to those of us involved in this struggle. The time has come to make our voices heard again for our own Indigenous Peoples, as the original message affirming Indigenous Sovereignty has become clouded through the efforts of the nation-states. The threats to our continued existence and way of life are more severe than ever, yet it has become better disguised. We hope to help bring the original vision back to the forefront.
The Longest Walk 4: Return to Alcatraz will begin with a sunrise Ceremony at the Washington Monument on July 15th, 2013. From there we will walk along the route generally taken by the original The Longest Walk in 1978, following the I-70 corridor and going down to Wichita, Kansas, following Hwy 50 to Sacramento. We will arrive on Alcatraz on December 21st, 2013. This will be followed by an Indigenous Sovereignty Gathering on December 22nd, 2013.
Joey Silvas: Central Coordinating
Mike Corral: Web Related outreach, mike firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Lane: Logistics, email@example.com
Morningstar Gali: Media, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-827-6719