'A beautiful moment'
Longest Walkers arrive in Window Rock
By Karen Francis, Diné Bureau, Gallup Independent, APRIL 7, 2008
WINDOW ROCK — For Larry Anderson, Council
delegate from Fort Defiance , it was a beautiful moment
to welcome the Longest Walk 2 participants to the Navajo
Nation capital as a leader, especially since 30 years
ago he was a part of the original Longest Walk.
“It’s a regeneration of 30 years ago.
I used to sit out here in this circle years ago just
wondering what kind of support we would be getting,
how well the Navajo Nation was going to respond,” he
said gesturing to the walkers who were sitting on the
ground listening to various speakers on Friday evening.
“Now I’m a leader of the Navajo Nation receiving the
walkers and it makes me feel good, rejuvenated, inspired.
I really feel the energy of these young people. Many
of them weren’t born 30 years ago.”
Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan, Iyanbito/Pinedale,
and other tribal leaders and members welcomed the Longest
Walk 2 to Window Rock with a reception on Friday held
at the Navajo Nation Fairgrounds.
The participants that made it to Window
Rock are part of the southern route of the walk which
started in San Francisco on Feb. 11 and is expected
to arrive in Washington on July 11.
An eagle feather was presented to the
group of walkers for the staff that is carried on the
Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American
Indian Movement and one of the organizers of the walk,
said so far the walk has been “gratifying,” noting that
people from many different countries have joined in
during the 1,250 miles the group had walked to get to
“I think the learning experience for
the group itself is good,” he said.
So far, the group has had to overcome
challenges such as illnesses and translation for the
walkers from foreign countries. Banks said that people
have joined from Germany, Australia, Poland, Mexico,
Canada and Argentina, to name a few.
Banks said that five years ago it was
decided to hold the cross-country walk again to raise
awareness about issues that are relevant, especially
with all the attention to global warming. He added that
some of the issues to be raised are still the same as
when the original walk was held.
“When I started to look at the manifesto
in 1978 I realized we’re looking at some of the same
issues,” he said. “There needs to be some effort to
make change — the way Americans look at sacred sites.
Thirty years ago we asked for protection for the San
Francisco Peaks and Goldwater, McCain there’s been no
offer of protection from these high-profile senators.
It’s really embarrassing. What they’re offering is they
want to get contaminated snow up there.”
Several tribes, including the Navajo
Nation, filed suit against the U.S. Forest Service over
Arizona Snowbowl’s plans to expand its ski resort and
use treated waste water to make artificial snow on the
Many of the walkers and speakers touted
protection of the environment and their tradition as
the main reasons for their participation.
Lisa Brown, a Navajo woman from Lupton,
joined up with the walkers in Flagstaff . Asked what
she was thinking as she walked, she said, “With every
step that I take, with every look of Mother Nature and
the trash that I see, I want people to open up their
eyes and realize you can’t live for yourself. You have
to live for this land we have here, you have to live
for our communities, you have to live for our nation.
You have to be a positive influence on what surrounds
you, and I pray that things will get better.”
“Badmobile” Dayea joined the Longest
Walk 2 on the summit going into Window Rock to represent
the Navajo and other native people who became disabled
during forced relocations, many of whom were eliminated
on the spot.
“It’s the same way with our issues.
There’s a lot of them that die off before they’re being
heard. They fall on deaf ears,” he said.
Though it was difficult going downhill
in his wheelchair, he wanted to participate in the historic
A member of the band Rolling Tunes,
Dayea said he will be holding a fundraiser concert for
the walk on May 10 at the Gallup Performing Arts Center.
Steven Kee, an official with Ganado
Chapter, said that the chapter opened its doors to the
walkers the night before and he had been assisting them
as they made their way through the area.
Kee talked to the walkers about concerns
that he would like to see addressed at the federal level
for Native peoples.
“My main concern is ‘English-only,’”
he said. “The other issue that I’d like to address is
water rights. The third one is domestic violence and
last of all, sexual harassment within the workplace.
We asked the federal government for funding.”
Supai Waters is one of the coordinators
for the Arizona portion of the walk and is in it until
the walkers reach Washington in July.
“For me, it’s an obligation to protect
my water, my sacred sites, my culture, my traditions,”
The walkers set up camp at the fairground
on Friday evening and were scheduled to walk to the
site of Dooda’ Desert Rock, the camp where people are
protesting the building of a new power plant in the
Four Corners area, Sunday.