Thursday, May 1, 2008

Kickapoo water fight part of walk

Kickapoo water fight part of walk
Northeast Kansas tribe adds feather to Indian issues march to D.C.
By Mike Hall
The Capital-Journal
Published Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The fight by the Kickapoo Nation of northeast Kansas over water rights will be represented as a feather on a staff being carried across the country to Washington, D.C.

Participants in "The Longest Walk 2," including Dennis Banks, a co-founder of the American Indian Movement, conducted a news conference Tuesday on the east steps of the Statehouse to discuss several issues important to them.


What: A coast-to-coast walk to raise awareness of environmental and American Indian issues.

The start: Feb. 11 on Alcatraz Island, San Francisco.

The goal: July 11 in Washington, D.C.

More information:
Many issues are special to Indians, but some are more universal such as environmental matters.

Calvin Magpie Jr. explained that a staff being carried by the walkers contains a feather for each Indian issue they are encountering on their walk from San Francisco. When the march began it was bare, but halfway through the walk it already is brightly decorated with feathers and decorations.

Banks is the national coordinator of the walk, which involves a southern route, as well as the northern route that came through Topeka. He actually is the leader of the southern route but traveled to Topeka for the ceremony here.

He praised the walkers for their dedication. He said the northern route walkers encountered extreme cold and snow in eastern California.

"We're getting sunburned on the southern walk, these guys were getting frostbite," he said.

He and other speakers praised Gov. Kathleen Sebelius for her efforts to prevent an expansion of a coal-fired power plant in western Kansas but called on her to help the Kickapoos in their struggle.

Steve Cadue, Kickapoo tribal chairman, recalled 2003 when the tribe was out of water and had to use trucks to haul water from the Missouri River around the clock.

The problem was the Delaware River, which serves the reservation, had run dry.

He said treaties going back to 1832 gave the Kickapoo people perpetual rights to the use of the water on their lands. That was reaffirmed by a 1908 U.S. Supreme Court decision, but now the tribe is having to spend a lot of money suing the federal and state governments to get their water.

"If the Kickapoo tribe loses our argument for water in the court system, we will cease to exist as a viable sovereign Indian tribe in the next decade," Cadue said.

He said another issue is a proposed oil pipeline that would cross the watershed that feeds the Delaware River on the Kickapoo land. He said an oil spill from that pipeline would ruin the tribe's water supply.

Stephanie Cole, spokeswoman for the Kansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said her group always has supported the Longest Walk and its goals. She was pleased the walkers had added the coal-fire power plant in western Kansas to their list of concerns.

"We will be draining our water resources in western Kansas to generate power for Colorado and Texas," she said.

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