Thursday, December 19, 2013

"American Indian activists stop in Vallejo during 'Longest Walk'"

2013-12-19 by Lanz Christian Bañes from "Vallejo Times-Herald"
Indigenous activists who have been walking across country since July stopped Wednesday in Vallejo to honor the shellmound at Glen Cove.
50 people greeted the walkers on the shores of the Carquinez Strait. Indeed, the idea for the journey, known as "The Longest Walk 4: Return to Alcatraz," had its roots partly in the encampment that sprang up in 2011 at the Glen Cove Waterfront Park in protest of the Greater Vallejo Recreation District's planned development of the site.
"The first planning meeting took place here in 2011," said Michael Lane, nominally the logistics coordinator of the small group that set out from Washington, D.C., on July 5.
GVRD ultimately settled the issue with representatives of two Patwin tribes, who were not part of the occupation, to create a smaller park. The shellmound, known as Sogorea Te, was occupied for 109 days.
Lane had been part of the original Longest Walk, a 1978 trek from Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay to Washington, D.C. Alcatraz had been the site of perhaps the most spectacular demonstration of the American Indian Movement, a 19-month occupation of the former prison island that ended in June 1971.
"It was not a protest walk," Lane said, of both the first and the current journey. "It was an affirmation of Indian sovereignty. Thirty-five years later, we're still dealing with the same issues," Lane said.
The current walk is the culmination of the first, with the group returning to Alcatraz on Saturday after leaving it decades earlier, Lane said.
About 10 people started the journey, gaining and losing supporters on the way and crossing through variable weather as the summer heat faded and fall rain gave way to winter snow.
The group averaged about 20 to 25 miles a day and received support through donations and places to stay at night, Lane said.
On Wednesday, five of the original 10 made it to Glen Cove, including Tyho:geñhs, a member of the Onondaga Nation in New York state. Tyho:geñhs said he had initially been hesitant to join the walk, but was glad he did.
"It's been difficult at times and hard to be away from home and family," Tyho:geñhs said, noting that he left briefly to attend his daughter's graduation.
The group is set to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge from Marin County early Saturday in order to catch a ferry from San Francisco and return to Alcatraz Island later that day.
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Longest Walk participant Tyho:geñhs, from New York state of the Onodaga Nation talks about the journey at the Glen Cove shellmound as the walk approaches its Saturday culmination on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay. (Chris Riley/Times-Herald)

A group of participants offer song and drumming after the end of a ceremony celebrating the arrival of the Longest Walk 4 at the Glen Cove shellmound in Vallejo. (Mike Jory/Times-Herald)

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