Cross-country walk to make Inland stop
Download story podcast
Monday, January 7, 2008
By JAMIE AYALA
A five-month journey across America aimed at raising awareness about protecting the earth, sacred sites and the next generation will come into the Inland area in early March.
The trek by foot, which is called the Longest Walk 2, commemorates a similar walk from San Francisco to Washington, D.C., in 1978 by activists wanting to draw attention to American Indian issues.
This year's walk will take a more southern route than the original walk. It will kick off in Davis on Feb. 11, and head south to Yucca Valley and east along Highway 62.
Along the way, participants are set to pick up trash, recycle and visit sacred sites that communities are trying to preserve. The walk will culminate with a symbolic exchange from elders to youth, said Tashina Banks Moore, national communications coordinator for the event.
"There seems to be momentum across the country and around the world to bring attention to how we as humans are living in our own communities," Moore said. "More and more, it's important for us as individuals to be responsible."
About 200 people are signed up to walk the entire 4,400 miles, Moore said, but hundreds more are expected to join for shorter distances.
She said the group is working to get community support, such as providing places to stay, food or cultural exchanges.
Riverside resident Karen Wright, 55, is trying to boost local awareness about the walk. She cannot participate because she is caring for her elderly mother.
Instead, she purchased T-shirts and patches to give away to those who might be able to walk. She is also spreading the word on the Internet.
"The walk isn't just for Indians. It's for anyone who cares about Mother Earth," said Wright, who is not American Indian. "I see people not planning for future people and the future of the earth and that's not good."
Dennis J. Banks, a co-founder of the American Indian Movement, helped organize the 1978 Longest Walk.
It shed light on the movement and the people and helped defeat 11 legislative bills threatening American Indian sovereignty, according to event organizers. Moore said it was a huge catalyst for change, drawing the support of several thousand people, including boxing great Muhammad Ali and actor Marlon Brando at the end.
Photo: Longest Walk 1978