Message from Dennis Banks 4/12/08
Written by Dennis Banks Saturday, 12 April 2008
This is Dennis Banks.
30 years ago our first Longest Walk was in progress across Kansas. It was
beginning to get hot and our walkers were getting thin and trim. Once
again we take to the roads of America to cross this Continent in search
of sacred sites needing to be protected and secured for the next
generation – in fact for the next Seven Generations. We walk this land
to listen to the people and hear their concerns about this Planet we
call mother Earth. We walk to remind America that this is still Indian
Land, that we are very concerned about the mistreatment and contamination
of the Air, the Water and the Soil.
When the Great Spirit asked us to care for the land we accepted this
task and duty. It is a committed duty with many responsibilities; within
these duties are found the many Spiritual ceremonies that govern our way
of life. These ceremonies are conducted daily, weekly, monthly, seasonly,
and yearly. In preparation we look for Medicinal plants, herbs, and roots
that accompany our ceremonies and songs. Now with this climate change we
fear many of the herbs, roots and plants will be lost because of the
warming of Mother Earth and of mankind’s destructive policies.
In California, we have walked this land thru Rumsey Band of the Wintun
Tribe, Yokuts, Santa Rosa Rancheria and the Mojave People at Fort
Mohave. In Arizona, we walked through the Haulapai, Havasupai,
Yavapai-Apache and Diné Territories. In New Mexico, we walked through
the pueblo lands of the Ohkay Owingeh and are about to enter the Taos
pueblo territory. Community after community the people welcomed us and
fed us. they opened up their homes and shared many tribal stories with
us. They showed us family pictures of son and daughters graduating from
schools. We saw many photos of men and women in uniform. We became
extended families to each other. Then they began to tell us of
environmental concerns – what we heard is very troubling.
At this hour we are compiling a “Manifesto for Change.” This Work will
reflect our findings, suggestions, and Articles for change to members of
the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives. As we
progress on this Document we realize that many Tribal Nations have not
had an opportunity share with us their concerns.
We now wish to invite all tribal members and nations from Turtle Island
to send, write, email any concerns of the environment in your area or of
any outstanding congressional action which may have deprived you of
ancestral lands, water or human rights. We shall include them in our
We will walk into Washington, D.C. united with the Northern Route,
Michigan running team, many delegations from the Southwest will join us
as we walk into D.C. on July 11, 2008. Please note we have less than 90
days before we reach D.C. We are planning the “Cultural Survival Summit”
for July 8, 9 and 10, 2008. Should you wish to participate in this
historic event, please register online at our website – you will be
contacted by the Cultural Survival Summit planning committee. Cultural
Survival Summit details will be posted on our website in the coming days.
-We invite Indigenous leaders from around the world to bring a
delegation to join us at the Summit and walk into DC with us;
– We invite Indigenous musicians, drum groups, dancers, singers, and
performers to join us;
– We invite the Youth of our Nations to join us;
– We invite the Elders of our Nations to join us;
– We invite Native organizations to join us;
– We invite Tribal delegations to join us;
– We invite brothers and sisters from all cultural backgrounds to join
As we walk these final 90 days, I will make every attempt to update you
at least once a week from this day forward. 30 years ago we did make
some changes by walking across this country – now let’s make more changes.
This country still owes the first nations people a great deal and we shall
not abandon what is rightfully ours.
Dennis J. Banks
– from The Longest Walk in Albuquerque, New Mexico