May 4, 2008

Kansas Greets Longest Walk

I had a really hard time editing this post. Although I wanted to get everyone’s name in, it seemed to run too long. Eventually I decided there are exceptions. Sometimes it’s well worth the effort to scroll & scroll & scroll. Here’s another story to raise your spirits, to keep in mind that we are all connected to mother earth, and must love each other as well as our heritage.
Longest Walk herald for Mother Earth at Kansas CapitolWritten by Brenda Norrell, Saturday, 03 May 2008
Dennis Banks, cofounder of the American Indian Movement, and Kickapoo Chairman Steve Cadue joined forces on the steps of the Kansas Statehouse to draw attention to the destruction of Mother Earth, vanishing rivers and assaults on American Indian rights.
Standing with the Longest Walkers, Kickapoo Chairman Cadue said his people in northern Kansas have been hauling water around the clock because the Delaware River is dry, threatening the economic and cultural survival of his people.
[...] “We had the right to the water and the land before the establishment of Kansas,” Chairman Cadue said. The federal court case, the Winters Doctrine, established the rights of Kickapoo to water. The Winters Doctrine gave American Indians first rights to water over the states, he said.
Now, threatened with the loss of their economic development, culture and survival, Chairman Cadue asked Dennis Banks to carry the message of the Kickapoo people to the President of the United States.
“Tell the President that the Kickapoo people need water, the treaties need to be honored,” Chairman Cadue said.
Speaking on the statehouse steps, Dennis Banks, coordinator of the southern route of the Longest Walk, thanked the walkers from the northern route for their tremendous effort and being part of the historic journey.
Banks said during the Longest Walk of 1978, walkers gathered 1,500,000 signatures to ensure American Indian rights. He said the Longest Walk was successful and defeated anti-Indian legislation and countered the Washington legislators who sponsored it.
[...] Banks said when the Longest Walk began in 1978, walkers spoke out in defense of sacred San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff, Arizona. San Francisco Peaks are sacred to all American Indians Nations in the region, who continue to conduct sacred ceremonies and gather medicine plants there. However, the Peaks are once again under attack by the corporate plan to use sewer waste water for fake snow production for recreational skiers on the mountain.
“We are going to challenge Sen. McCain wherever he stops,” Banks said of the issue of protecting San Francisco Peaks.
Further, Banks said chromium contamination is threatening the survival of the Mohave, Havasupai and Hualapai in Arizona and California.
Pointing out the crisis on the national scale, Banks said it is time for U.S. presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton “to stop their squabbling and focus on what is going to save this country.”
[...] Banks said American Indian people are stewards, with the responsibility of protecting future generations. “There will be no Seventh Generation if we don’t say anything, do anything.”
[...] “We all need water, we need water for our ceremonies; we are born of water.”
During the capitol rally, Stephanie Cole, spokesperson for the Sierra Club in Kansas, spoke of the partnership of the Sierra Club and American Indians in protecting the environment, including the nearby Haskell Wetlands, a sacred site on the Longest Walk. Cole also spoke of the threat of new power plants in Holcomb. She said most of the power won’t even go to Kansas.
“We will be draining our water resources in western Kansas to generate power for Colorado and Texas,” Cole said.
Raelin Butler, president of the Haskell-Baker Wetlands Preservation Organization, said the cultural and environment issues of protecting the wetlands are a focus of the walkers on their journey through Kansas.
Kansas Governor Sebelius’ Proclamation of the Longest Walk was also read during the rally. Gov. Sebelius’ proclamation celebrates the 30th anniversary of the walk and praises walkers for their efforts to protect the environment.
Calvin Magpie Jr., Cheyenne Arapahoe coordinating the runners on the Longest Walk Northern Route, explained that the staffs carried by the walkers contain a feather or contribution from each community the walkers have passed through since leaving Alcatraz on Feb. 11, 2008. Magpie also presented Banks with one of the staffs.
Banks praised the walkers on the northern route, who walked over the Sierra Nevadas in Nevada and Rocky Mountains in Colorado, including the 11,000 foot Monarch Pass in Colorado, so far on their 3,600 mile trek to Washington D.C. “We’re getting sunburned on the southern walk, these guys were getting frostbite,” Banks said.
Following the presentation at the Kansas Capitol, Dennis Banks, with a delegation from the southern route, walked into Lawrence, Kansas, with the northern route. Walkers were welcomed at Haskell Indian College with a feast of buffalo and roasted corn.
Banks and the Earthcycles radio crew, Longest Walk Talk Radio, left immediately after dinner, driving through the night, to support the Yankton Sioux in South Dakota. More than 40 Yankton have been arrested in two waves of arrests by the County Sheriff deputies and South Dakota State Police, as Yankton struggle to protect their sovereign land from a large scale, disease-producing hog farm under construction in the heart of their community, one-half mile from the Yankton Head Start Center.

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