Contact: Klee Benally, (928) 380-2629
Native American Rights Walk Across America Comes to Northern Arizona
Longest Walk 2 Prayer Gatherings, Panel Discussion, & Benefit Concert Planned
By Klee Benally
FLAGSTAFF, AZ -- During March 21st - 29th, more than 120 participants of the Longest Walk 2 will be walking through and resting in Flagstaff, Arizona. The Longest Walk 2 is a five-month journey on foot from San Francisco, CA to Washington, D.C. for the protection of Mother Earth & Native American rights. Flagstaff area groups have planned prayer gatherings, a panel discussion, and a benefit concert to support the Longest Walk 2. These events will help bring awareness and support to local issues.
"The Longest Walk 2 and its participants are calling attention to Sacred Sites - that is what has brought us to Arizona.” Said Dennis Banks, co-founder American Indian Movement and Longest Walk 2 organizer. “Native Peoples' cultural identity lies rooted in the Sacred Sites of our communities. We stand in solidarity with the caretakers of this land, the Dine’, the Hopi, the Havasupai, the Hualapai and other Indigenous nations, who fight to protect the Sacred Sites: The San Francisco Peaks, Big Mountain, Red Butte, Woodruff Butte, and Mt. Taylor."
The Longest Walk 2 will stop for a sunrise prayer on Friday, March 21st at the Holy San Francisco Peaks before proceeding to Flagstaff for a news conference and rally.
"The San Francisco Peaks are internationally recognized as a very significant sacred site." said Jeneda Benally, a Dine' (Navajo) volunteer with the Save the Peaks Coalition, "The Longest Walk 2 brings awareness to the threats of desecration of the Holy Peaks and other threatened sacred sites in America and to the fact that we have no guarantee for protection of our religious freedom in this country.”
Arizona's San Francisco Peaks are a unique ecological island and are held holy by more than 13 Native American Nations.
The Arizona Snowbowl Ski Resort, located on the holy Peaks, is attempting to expand its development, clear-cut acres of old growth trees, and make fake snow from treated sewage effluent, which has been proven to contain harmful contaminants.
A coalition of tribes and environmental groups have filed multiple lawsuits against the U.S. Forest Service, which leases the public land to the Snowbowl, to stop this proposed development. The legal battle has been viewed as a precedent setting case that will impact the future of Native American religious freedom.
"The Longest Walk 2 is our generations' opportunity to unite efforts in the movement to protect our Indigenous cultures.” Said Tashina Banks Moore, National Coordinator for the Longest Walk 2. “Our parents and grandparents raised us with traditional beliefs and spiritual ways of life - it is our duty and our privilege to defend our cultural homelands, which are our connection to spirituality.”
The Longest Walk 2 comprises two routes that will cover more than 8,000 miles in total through communities all across Turtle Island. The walkers rely on local communities' support for accommodations, supplies and monetary donations along the way. The walk will arrive in Washington, D.C. on July 11, 2008.
“Decision makers in Washington D.C. are planning ways to get onto our tribal lands to extract mineral resources, these unsustainable practices are contributing to climate change.” Said Enei Begaye, Director of the Black Mesa Water Coalition. “The coal mining on Black Mesa that has been going on for over 30 years, and is still going on, has had detrimental impacts not only environmentally but culturally, socially, and economically. There are solutions; we can stop our need to depend on the mining of fossil fuels with clean sources of renewable energy. We are thankful that the walkers are carrying that message as well.” Begaye said.
The Longest Walk 2 also marks the 30th anniversary of the original Longest Walk of 1978 that resulted in historic changes for Native Americans. During the 1978 Longest Walk, thousands converged on Washington, D.C. in an effort that defeated 11 pieces of legislation in Congress that would have abrogated Native American Treaties. As a result of the 1978 Walk, the American Indian Religious Freedom Act (1978) was passed.
“We are renewing the sacred circle of life for all humanity,” said Robert Tohe, a participant of the original 1978 Longest Walk and representative of the Sierra Club Environmental Justice Program. “The challenge to make a personal commitment may be offered for you to walk, if the opportunity arises to join the walk, seize it and participate. It's a life changing event, so bring extra pairs of shoes.”
The Longest Walk 2 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 at any point in time on either route, for any length of the route. For complete route itinerary and additional information, please visit: www.longestwalk.org.
Local groups supporting the Longest Walk 2 are: The Save the Peaks Coalition, Native Movement, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Indigenous Environmental Network, ECHOES, Sierra Club, Black Mesa Indigenous Support, Indigenous Action Media, 4th World Entertainment, Lovelution Industries & Youth of the Peaks.
Longest Walk 2 Flagstaff Area Schedule:
Friday, March 21st
5:30 a.m Sunrise Prayer in Honor & Protection of the Holy San Francisco Peaks
Join us in prayer and then join the Longest Walk 2 as it proceeds into Flagstaff.
Meet at Snowbowl lower parking lot. Dress warm! Limited parking, please carpool.
WHERE: Holy San Francisco Peaks, Southwestern Slopes at the end of Snowbowl Road off
9:00 a.m. Longest Walk 2 will proceed to Flagstaff. Highway 180/Ft. Valley Rd.
3:00 p.m. Rally & Press Conference
Longest Walk 2 will be entering Flagstaff. Join us in welcoming them!
WHERE: Flagstaff City Hall, Route 66 side.
WHO: Longest Walk 2 representatives, Save the Peaks Coalition, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Native Movement
7:00 p.m. Dinner Reception/Welcoming for the Longest Walk 2
WHERE: W. F. Killip Elementary School - 2300 E. 6th Avenue Flagstaff, AZ
Wednesday, March 26th
7:00 p.m. "All Life is Sacred" Panel Discussion
Come learn more about environmental protection, the 1978 and current Longest Walk,
and sacred sites issues. Event is *FREE* but donations for the Longest Walk 2
WHERE: Cline Auditorium, Northern Arizona University Flagstaff, AZ
WHO: Dennis Banks, Coordinator for the Longest Walk 2, Representatives of the Save the Peaks Coalition, Black Mesa Water Coalition, Native Movement, and more.
Thursday, March 27th
5:00 p.m. Longest Walk 2 & Save the Peaks Benefit Concert
Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door, $7 for 14 years & under, 5 years & under free
WHERE: Orpheum Theatre, 15 W. Aspen St. Flagstaff, Arizona
WHO: Keith Secola, Blackfire, Radmilla Cody, Yaiva, Mokshya, Summit Dub Squad, Burning the Bridge, Synergy & Guest Speakers.
Friday, March 28th
11:00 a.m. Longest Walk 2 Prayer Gathering
Prayers for environmental protection and human rights will be offered and opportunity will be available for individuals to speak to issues impacting their communities.
Longest Walk II representatives will listen to community concerns to prepare a document to be presented to U.S. officials in Washington D.C.
WHERE: Star School, 145 Leupp Rd, Flagstaff, AZ 86004
Please contact Longest Walk 2 Flagstaff Support at (928) 527-1431 or LW2FLG@gmail.com to register to present at the gathering. On site registration will be available as well.
Organizations are encouraged to send delegates to present.
Lunch & dinner will be provided. Kitchen volunteers and food donations are needed. Please contact LW2FLG@gmail.com.
Saturday, March 29th
7:00 a.m. Depart from Star School