Indian walk crosses Nevada, nation

By Matt Farley, Reno-Gazette Journal, FEBRUARY 18, 2008

In the 30 years since the first Longest Walk march flooded Capitol Hill with activists fighting for American Indian rights, thousands of places sacred to American Indians continue to be desecrated and developed, an official of the International Indian Treaty Council said Monday.

Jimbo Simmons and other supporters of American Indian sovereignty launched the Longest Walk 2, a re-creation of the 1978 walk, that stopped Monday at an informal pow wow at the Carson Colony gymnasium.

“It’s more successful (than the original) in terms of outreach to the public,” Simmons said. “We’re reaching out to as many people as possible.

“If we get 2 million people walking into Washington, D.C., on the same day, that will draw some attention. And at this point, I believe that’s possible.”

About 40 people have committed to walk 3,600 miles from San Francisco to the Capitol to draw attention to the damage being done to sacred places and Earth, Simmons said.

A larger party walking through the South is expected to join the group in Washington to stage a re-creation of the original event, organized to protest a slate of legislative bills supporters believed would undercut American Indian sovereignty. That effort, which drew the support of celebrities such as Marlon Brando and Muhammad Ali, was eventually successful, Simmons said.

Since marchers left the Bay Area on Feb. 11, spending nights at public facilities and Indian reservations, their numbers have grown and diversified, he said.

Brandt Larsen, a California native who drove to Carson City to join the march, said he planned to remain with the group until it reaches Washington on July 11.

“My grandmother was Sioux, but I was never looked at as (American Indian),” he said. “I never asked to be looked at that way, but this is something I really feel like I should do. The whole country is sacred, but nobody treats it that way.”

Simmons said he often has trouble articulating American Indians’ concerns about the environment to people from other belief systems.

“We don’t have to go to a building or a church to pray,” he said. “We can pray anywhere. All land is sacred. Sometimes that’s hard to understand.”

The group’s worship service near Cave Rock at Lake Tahoe was interrupted by a group of boaters who insisted they move away from the water’s edge, Simmons said.

“They were saying, ‘We deserve to be here because we paid’,” he said. “But, you know, we were there first. We feel like the human family has one commonality, and that’s Mother Earth. We were trying to protect that (during the first march) and we still continue to.”

The walk took on a festive air when Oakland residents Calvin Magpie, 25, and Estela Sophia Cuevas, 24, announced they would be married Monday night in a ceremony ending with them being wrapped together in buckskins and a single blanket, Magpie said.

“We were planning to do it in July, but we’re going to be walking during the whole time we (should be) planning,” he said. “This way, it will be something we can always remember and tell our children.”

He laughed and shrugged.

“Plus, you know, it’s kind of a spiritual thing. Like, the two of us walking on this Earth together.”

Read about the journey on the blog at

The Longest Walk 2 is scheduled to trace the following route through Nevada on its way across the country. Most of the walk will follow U.S. 50.

Tuesday: Carson City to Silver Springs

Wednesday: Silver Springs to Fallon

Thursday and Friday: Rest days
Saturday through Monday: Fallon to Austin

Feb. 26 and 27: Visit to Mt. Tenabo

Feb. 28: Austin to Eureka

Feb. 29: Eureka to Ely




Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.