Group marches in name of 'Mother Earth'
By Mike Hall, The Capital-Journal,
APRIL 29, 2008
Halfway on their walk from San Francisco
to Washington, D.C., a group participating in the Longest
Walk 2 is in Topeka to promote their message to protect
"Mother Earth" and the cultures and sacred
sites of American Indians.
About 20 walkers arrived at the Statehouse
at noon Monday and formed a circle for an American Indian
prayer song led by Cordell Tulley, a member of the Dineh
tribe of Arizona.
The original Longest Walk in 1978 resulted
in the U.S. government dropping plans to cancel all
Before heading east for Lawrence today,
the group plans to conduct a news conference at 10 a.m.
at the Statehouse.
Among the walkers was Yukio Iimura,
one of 20 Japanese Buddhists participating. He said
when Japanese organized a similar long walk, a number
of American Indians joined them as a show of support.
Another walker was Sharon Heta, a member
of the Maori tribe of New Zealand. She said her husband
was a member of the first Longest Walk in 1978. Now,
she is walking to raise awareness of the struggle by
the Maori people for recognition of their own independent
Tulley said no one walks the entire
distance. Each walker is asked to do a minimum of 10
miles a day. The group that arrived in Topeka on Monday
was part of a larger group walking on what is known
as the northern route. Another group is taking a southern
route between the coasts.
But for both groups, the goal is Washington,
D.C., in July, when they hope to meet with national
leaders to express their concerns and what they learned
on their walk.
For example, Tulley said that in spending
a four-day rest period on the Kickapoo Reservation in
northeast Kansas the group learned of the difficulties
there in obtaining an adequate water supply.
Tulley said it is difficult to say how
many people are participating, because the walkers come
and go. He himself didn't begin the walk in San Francisco
but joined when the group came through his area of Arizona.
He said mining for several minerals
in Arizona and New Mexico are doing great damage to
"Some multinational corporations
are corrupting the earth," he said. "We live
in the belly of the monster."
Mike Hall can be reached at (785)
295-1209 or firstname.lastname@example.org.