American Indians begin long trek
Longest Walk 2 to span 10
states over 5 months
By Jennifer Torres, Record Staff Writer,
FEBRUARY 15, 2008
Larry Bringing Good has cleared out
his apartment at the Hotel
Stockton and given away his television.
The electricity is set to be turned
off today, and all he has, he said, is packed into two
He is joining a group of more than 100
people on a walk across the country that officially
began Monday. Over the next five months, participants
will travel through more than 10 states to advocate
for environmental concerns, to support the preservation
of American Indian sacred sites and to commemorate a
similar cross-country journey that was completed 30
Their trek - called Longest Walk 2 -
is set to culminate in Washington, D.C., on July 11.
"I think that, later on down the
line, when things get worse, which I think they will,
people are going to be wondering, 'What did you do to
stop this?' " Bringing Good said. "I want
to be able to say, 'I walked across the United States
twice.' That's the best I can do."
Participants walked behind a staff trimmed
with eagle feathers. They wore sneakers or boots, jeans
or leggings. They followed the drumbeats of a group
of Buddhist monks. They picked trash up from the road.
On Thursday, they were on Airport Way,
headed south toward Manteca.
Aquarelle Emery's father was on the
first Longest Walk march in 1978.
"He thought it would be the journey
of a lifetime," said Emery, who has lived in France
and Los Angeles. "That I would gain so much wisdom."
Wounded Knee De Campo, of Vallejo, also
walked in 1978.
Thirty years ago, he said, he walked
to protect American Indian sovereignty. Now, he said,
"We walk the longest walk for the environment,
for health, for justice and peace, for our sacred sites."
According to focus group research released
in August by the nonprofit Public Agenda organization,
many American Indians believe that non-Indians have
formed perceptions of them that are based on inaccurate
Non-Indians, meanwhile, reported that
they know little about the modern American Indian community.
Bringing Good said he hopes that when
they see dozens of American Indians and their supporters
walking across the country, people will be moved.
"I want them to see inner strength,
to see what we're capable of," he said. "People
are going to ask us, 'What are you doing? You're crazy.'
Yes, I'm crazy, but it's a good crazy."
Walkers are following two routes. The
southern route, which took them
through San Joaquin County this week, will continue
on through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina,
North Carolina and Virginia.
The northern route, with a smaller group
of walkers, heads through California, Nevada, Utah,
Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio
and Pennsylvania. The groups plan to meet in Washington,
Contact reporter Jennifer Torres at
(209) 546-8252 or firstname.lastname@example.org