Thursday, May 22, 2008

Group crossing U.S. praises BR

Group crossing U.S. praises BR
Advocate staff writer
Published: May 21, 2008 - Page: 4B - UPDATED: 12:05 a.m.

There’s an American Indian saying, “Every step a prayer, every mile a ceremony,” runner “Kid” Valance said Tuesday as he rested on the Mississippi River levee in front of the USS Kidd.

“Some people talk about their day at the office while they walk. Others pray and don’t say a word. We have Tibetan monks who chant the whole time and people who beat their tribal drums the whole way,” Valance said of the 60 or so participants who stopped in Baton Rouge on Tuesday to take a break from The Longest Walk 2 – 2008.

Harry Goodwolf Kindness of Las Vegas, a spokesman for the American Indian Movement, said the walk is all about “one planet, one people” — a message about creating environmental awareness.

“We all have to do our part to protect what’s sacred on Mother Earth,” Kindness said.

The Longest Walk 2 – 2008 is the second “Longest Walk” put on by the American Indian Movement. This year’s walk is celebrating the 30th anniversary of The Longest Walk of 1978. That walk was a march from California to Washington, D.C., to protest proposed legislation that would have nullified American Indian treaties with the government. Those 11 bills proposed in 1978 all failed.

The Longest Walk 2 – 2008 began on Feb. 11 in San Francisco and will end July 11 in Washington, D.C., Kindness said.

Kindness said the 60 or so walkers stopped in Baton Rouge on Tuesday because the group heard about the city’s environmental awareness efforts each year with its Earth Day celebration.

Mayor-President Melvin “Kip” Holden greeted the walkers Tuesday and thanked them for their efforts.

The walkers and runners were scheduled to spend Tuesday night at the USS Kidd.
Kindness said the group is slated to arrive in New Orleans on Thursday, where it will take four days off and help some residents there rebuild houses.

Orlando Nez, a 31-year-old Navajo tribe member and artist from Winslow, Ariz., joined the walk in Arizona because he said he wanted to learn more about his culture and heritage.

“My ancestors suffered a lot, and that inspired me to walk. I have learned a lot about the history of our land, our prayers and our healing ceremonies,” Nez said.

Nez said he “loves every mile and every state” he has visited on the journey.

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