SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer
The Longest Walk 5.2 arrives for ceremony at Sacred Site Sogorea Te located in Vallejo, CA; one of many Native American sacred sites that will be visited during the walk. “This spiritual walk and run is dedicated to calling an end to drug abuse and domestic violence which greatly effects masses of all peoples on this continent. Longest Walks are held to bring attention to issues that directly affect Native Americans; this year, we will embark on the second leg of the Longest Walk 5 or The Longest Walk 5.2, which encompasses the middle part of the United States,” stated Bobby Wallace, National Chief of The Longest Walk 5. The Longest Walk 5.2 begins in San Francisco, Ca and will be traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota; continuing to Washington DC.
Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSPRIT), Founding Executive Director, Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo (Mewuk), will be taking part in the Longest Walk 5.2. For many years Wounded Knee has advocated for the protection of sacred site Sogorea Te, located in the Glen Cove area of Vallejo. A spiritual occupation of the Native American Sacred Burial Site lasted 109 days, beginning in April of 2011 and ending in August of 2011. At the time of the spiritual occupation, Wounded Knee stated, “It’s time for Indigenous peoples across this country to take a stand and say ‘no more’ to desecrating the sacred sites of our ancestors,” “No more digging up our ancestors and putting them in garbage cans and in garbage bags. “No more digging up our ancestors and putting them in museums and leaving them in cardboard boxes and gym lockers, taking their artifacts and their sacred objects.” “UC Berkeley has 13,000 remains stored in boxes; some of these remains came from Sogorea Te.” The spiritual occupation of Sogorea Te ended with a cultural easement; a landmark decision that had never been done within city limits or with a park district within a city.
Along with desecration of their sacred sites, Native American populations continue to disproportionately suffer from social and health disparities, having great impacts on livelihood and future generations. Historically, Native Americans have persistently experienced trauma due to US policies of genocide, assimilation and colonialism resulting in historical trauma. Due to the harsh effects of historical trauma, Native American populations across the country continue to fight the repercussions of these acts. National research has shown that childhood trauma is an underlying cause of many disparities including; substance abuse, domestic violence, diabetes, heart disease and death. Trauma prevention, trauma care and the repercussions of trauma must be addressed at community and systematic levels. Statistics consistently show that social, economic and health disparities continue to exist in every tribal community across the Nation and must not be ignored. Tribal communities remain strong and resilient in many other ways such as upholding the tribal values, traditions, language and ceremonies which are still prevalent today. The role of these strengths must be fully understood and valued. Cultural and systematic solutions should be woven together to meet many national disparities among tribal nations.
The First Longest Walk was organized in 1978 to bring attention to 11 bills pending in U.S. Congress. The Native Americans Equal Opportunity Act would have eliminated all treaties between the U.S. government and tribal nations and was an attempt to reverse the course of federal Indian policy. It called for the abrogation of all treaties. However, the bill did not pass, largely due to the attention brought by the walk from California to Washington D.C. The Longest Walk 2, “All Life is Sacred” was organized in 2008 to protect sacred sites on tribal land throughout Indian country. The Longest Walk 3, “Reversing Diabetes” was organized in 2011 to address the diabetes epidemic throughout Indian country. Native Americans suffer the highest rates of diabetes, followed by African Americans. The Longest Walk 4 was a reverse walk held in 2014. It began in Washington, D.C., and ended on Alcatraz Island. The purpose of the Longest Walk 4 was to educate Americans about the history of the many tribal removals of First Nations Peoples from their homelands due to government policy. The Longest Walk 5 covered 3,600 miles, and traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, before ending in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2016. Phase 2 of The Longest Walk or The Longest Walk 5.2, begins in San Francisco on Sunday, February 12, 2017 and ends in Washington D.C. on July 15, 2017.
SSPRIT invites the public to join us as we gather to welcome The Longest Walkers of The Longest Walk 5.2 at Sogorea Te for ceremony; offering prayers to the ancestors buried at the sacred site. Dennis Banks, Co-Founder of The American Indian Movement, Bobby Wallace, National – Chief of The Longest Walk 5, Karkin Chochenyo Ohlone Woman Corrina Gould and Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo will be in attendance. Wounded Knee is the only person who will have participated in all five Longest Walks. This event takes place on Monday, February 13, 2017 at Noon.