Dennis Banks, an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Anishinaabe and a co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM) is once again hoping the Longest Walk can help bring attention to issues that plague the Native American community. In 1978, he helped organize the first Longest Walk, “Trail of Broken Treaties”, in which tribal nations marched from San Francisco to Washington DC to bring awareness to the “unjust and unlawful acts which were being placed upon Native American people across the nation”.
On this phase of the trip, the walk departs from San Francisco, CA and continues throughout the central United States until the walkers/runners finally arrive in Washington DC on July 15th, 2017.
This year's Longest Walk hopes to bring an end to substance abuse and domestic violence, by seeking out cultural and spiritual solutions throughout Indian Country. Unfortunately domestic violence hits a little too close to home for Banks, as it took the life of his granddaughter, Rose Downwind in 2015.
An excerpt from Longest Walk 5's National Chief Bobby Wallace:
This spiritual walk and run is dedicated to calling an end to drug abuse and domestic violence that greatly effects the masses of all people’s on this continent.
These issues have affected every single one of us in one way or another, like mental illness, legal problems, CPS issues or worse with the loss of a loved one due to multiple suicide attempts and eventually death. All of these problems are in a pandemic stage for Native Americans, with child suicide being the greatest risk.
During the walk we will gather data along the way, in the “trenches”, speak with Tribal Leaders, Law Enforcement, Religious Organizations and people like you and I to come up with solutions and creative ideas to combat these life altering problems we all face in these times.
We believe that spirituality is one of the key components in this fight to free people from their addictions, as some of our traditional values have changed or even been lost somewhere along the way. It is time to reaffirm that it is ok to be who you are, and your traditions and culture in this day greatly matter as we move forward towards the next century.
For more information on the route and how your community might be able to participate, please visit http://www.longestwalk.us/.