Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

September 29, 2021

Longest Walk 2008, Paiute and Vision of Wovoka

By Brenda Norrell
Human rights editor
U.N. OBSERVER & International Report
Censored News, publisher
Photos Brenda Norrell.

STILLWATER, Nevada – Paiute elder Dell Steve said Wovoka had a great vision and encouraged Indian people to rejoice. This was mistaken as an uprising by US soldiers and those who followed Wovoka’s vision were massacred at Wounded Knee, S.D.

Speaking to the Longest Walk northern route's talk radio, Steve said Wovoka told of a time when the Indian people would regain their land and the buffalo would return. Steve said now the earth is being destroyed by technology and abuse.

When asked what people could do to stop the destruction, Steve said, “It is too late.”
Describing the struggle to protect the remains of their ancestors, Steve said the Paiute are engaged in a battle in the Ninth Circuit Court for the return of the remains of one of their ancestors, “Spirit Cave Man,” found at a cave in Grimes Point. The remains are among the oldest human remains found on this continent, dating back 9,000 to 10,000 years.

When the Longest Walk’s northern route arrived here on the Fallon Stillwater Paiute Shoshone Nation, Steve read about the walk in the newspaper and came to offer his encouragement. He remembered when the Longest Walk came through this community, Stillwater, 30 years ago, when about 400 walkers stayed here.
Steve, former chairman and councilman of the Fallon Paiute Shoshone Indian Nation, spoke of the cultural richness of this land, where Paiute have lived since time immemorial, gathering cattails to build their homes and hunting ducks, deer and rabbit.
"We always had plenty of food,” Steve said. Steve said the United States has never compensated Indian people for the illegal seizure of their lands.
The Longest Walk northern route is on foot, walking 3,600 miles across the continent to bring attention to the need to protect Mother Earth. So far, the walkers have received food and hospitality from Rumsey Rancheria, Miwok at Shingle Springs, Pollock Pines Community Center, Lake Tahoe Recreation Center, Carson City Indian Colony, Fallon Paiute and Shoshone Indian Nation at Stillwater and Yomba Shoshone.
Speaking to the Longest Walk walkers in Stillwater, Paiute hunter Wesley Dick said the Paiute must recover their traditional hunting rights in order for the culture to survive. Dick said Paiutes always hunted to provide for their own families and the elderly.
Dick maintains the traditional way of preparing buckskins from deer hides for powwow dresses and drums. He also gathers the cattails from the marshes for traditional crafts, including duck decoys for hunting. The cattails once were woven into mats and provided the Paiutes with shelter.
Here in the northern flyway, Paiutes hunted geese and ducks. The large Tundra swans were among the traditional foods. Dick shared videos of the culture with the Longest Walk and donated a van for the journey. He also brought deer and rabbit for one of the many feasts offered by Paiute and Shoshone community members to the long walkers and runners crossing the continent.
The Longest Walk 2 Northern Route was welcomed to the lands of the Paiute and Shoshone, beginning with the Basket and Eagle dances and personal memories of the Occupation of Alcatraz.
Jimbo Simmons, Longest Walk 2 Northern Route coordinator, told the gathering of walkers and Paiute Shoshone that the Longest Walk is a sacred journey for prayer. Simmons said the people are coming together and finding their strengths.
“It is a healing across this land,” Simmons said of the Long Walk. “We are able to witness the changes in the environment.”
Simmons said the United States never honored the American Indian Freedom Act, designed to protect the sacred places and ceremonies. “In 1978 they passed the American Indian Freedom Act, but we are still struggling for our rights, our freedom.”
Simmons praised the youths who have joined the walk. “They are also in healing. This is a spiritual walk, it is not a protest.” He praised the Long Walkers who are walking across the continent on the five month journey.
“They say when you give up your time, you give up your life. This is what you are doing, giving up part of your life.”
Simmons is one of the original walkers of the Longest Walk of 1978 and hopes the youth here will benefit in the same way from the walk across the continent. Remembering the Long Walk of 1978, Simmons said, “It helped me. It changed my life.”
About 40 Long Walkers, including Yukio, drummer and long distance runner from Japan, introduced themselves to the Paiute Shoshone community on Feb. 20. Present were the two long walkers, Luv the Mezenger from Los Angeles and Willie Lonewolf, Navajo Ute, who crossed the Sierra Nevadas on snowshoes on Sunday, Feb. 17. Snow drifts, up to nine feet high, made walking on the side of the highway impossible with traffic.
Lonewolf said he serves the Long Walk as drum carrier and singer. Mezenger is a runner and walker who also serves on the security team. Mezenger said he feels humbled to be on this walk. “I am greatly humbled. I’m from the concrete jungle. It is good to see people are still walking their ways.”
Calvin Magpie, Cheyenne Arapaho from Oklahoma, said, “I’m walking for Mother Earth, for the children, for the people who can’t walk, for the people who can’t be here.” Magpie and Stella Sophia Cuevas were married on the Long Walk at the Carson City Indian Colony, Monday, Feb. 18. Western Shoshone Darlene Graham conducted the ceremony.
Janice Gardipe, Paiute Shoshone, and Graham joined the walkers in Alcatraz and Sacramento, and again in Stillwater. Gardipe was among those speaking out against the desecration of Indian remains at the University of California Berkeley.
“Thank you for walking. Thanks for all that you do for the people. You are so strong, you are walking for the ancestors,” Gardipe said in Stillwater. She sang a song for the ancestors. Graham also welcomed the walkers to Shoshone lands.
Marie Littlemoon, Mescalero Apache, who serves as cook and driver of one of the escort vehicles, said she is here on a spiritual quest. Willow Dixon from Portland, Oregon, said she has found the strength to put aside her cane, and is now walking, even running.
Tomas Reyes, Yaqui, is among the elders on the Long Walk. Reyes said he is here because it is important to address “our survival, sacred places and the heart of our culture across this land.” Reyes spoke of the need for understanding of Indigenous Peoples on both sides of the US/Mexico border and the need for Indian people to be caretakers of the earth.
The Longest Walk's northern route will join with the southern route to march into Washington D.C. on July 11, after five months of walking across the continent.

Copyright Brenda Norrell

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