Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights 2020

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Longest Walk in Pueblo, Colorado

For Immediate Release
Aislyn Colgan
(831) 295-2555
Mano Cockrum
(720) 276-7452
Transcontinental Prayer Walk for Native American Rights and Environmental Protection Returns to Pueblo after 30 years

Colorado Governor Declares March 2008 "Longest Walk Month"
Community Events and "Pueblo Means 'the People'" March to Avondale scheduled

PUEBLO, CO- The Longest Walk 2 is a trans-continental spiritual walk for environmental protection and Native American rights. Participants are on a five- month journey on foot from San Francisco and will arrive in Washington, D.C. on July 11, 2008. The Northern Route of The Longest Walk 2 is following the original route of 1978 that resulted in historic changes for Native Americans.
On Friday, March 28th, 2008 at 6:45 pm Pueblo community members will join the walkers for a Sunset Ceremony at the Amphitheatre at the Colorado State University at Pueblo. Afterwards the group will gather in the University Library for a Café Cultura Collective, Red/ Brown Unity Open MIC featuring Café Cultura collective organizers and performers from Denver.

On Saturday, March 30th, the Northern Route of the Longest Walk 2 will hold a rally at Elizabeth St. Parkway Park at Elizabeth St. and 29th where walkers and community members will speak about issues of sacred site protection and environmental defense. The walkers recently received a proclamation from Colorado Governor Bill Ritter stating, "The State of Colorado recognizes the participants of the Longest Walk 2, welcomes them and encourages people around the state to take heed of their message that promotes peace, justice, environmentally friendly practices, and awareness of those in the Native American community that suffer. Therefore I Bill Ritter, Governor of Colorado do proclaim March 2008 Longest Walk Month in the state of Colorado."

The walkers passed through Cañon City Wed., March 26, where they stopped to pray at three prisons in the area. Marie Littlemoon Engle (Apache), whose son is held in one of the prisons, led the group in prayer. Engle expressed great sadness at the way her son is being treated inside. "They took his feathers from him, and they cut his hair. It hurts my heart to see his right to practice his traditions disrespected in this way."
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978, which secures the rights of Native prisoners to practice their traditions, was passed largely in response to the original Longest Walk thirty years ago. "Religious freedom is a right we are still being denied; it is one of the reasons we still have to walk today," states Jimbo Simmons, coordinator of the Northern Route.
A delegation from Big Mountain, Navajo Nation in Northern Arizona came to share their story of struggle against Peabody Coal company and the US Government's attempts to relocate their people. "I was on the walk 30 years ago," said Bahe Katenay, "My work since then has been routed in my experience thirty years ago. I have been working all this time supporting the elders on Big Mountain as they try to protect their land. We have done all that talking with politicians, walking is the way we express ourselves, it is the best way to carry our message. I am happy to see the youth here continuing that tradition."
The Longest Walk 2 is stopping in communities all across Turtle Island to listen to Native peoples concerns, document and deliver the concerns to US officials in D.C. They plan to bring the issues of sacred site desecration and environmental destruction facing all Native people to the US Government upon arrival in Washington D.C.
After their Pueblo visit, the Longest Walk 2 will continue to the Sand Creek Massacre Site where on November 29, 1864 the US Cavalry brutally slaughtered over 200 unarmed Cheyenne and Arapaho men women and children as they peacefully camped after surrendering to relocation to a reservation. The walkers will offer support to the descendants of the massacre and prayers for their ancestors. For a complete itinerary, specific directions and additional information please visit:
*Media: High Resolution Photos of all events available upon request

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