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 duffel bags.

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 years ago.

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 stereotypes.

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, D.C.

Contact reporter Jennifer Torres at (209) 546-8252 or




Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.