Message from Dennis Banks
National Field Director, American Indian Movement
Because of the extremely high rate of abuse, suicides and drug related deaths and destruction, I issued a call for a three phase, three year walk across America in 2016. The destruction is at a pandemic stage!
“Our mission is to cross this continent on foot; seeking cultural and spiritual solutions to end drug abuse and domestic violence.”
In 2016, the Longest Walk 5 walked and ran through 13 states, crossed 18 mountain ranges and visited 53 diverse tribal communities and held 100 gathering throughout America. During the walk LW5 participants and organizers listened to the people, captured their voices and inspired communities to advocate for themselves and to continue to practice deep rooted cultural and spiritual strengths that are imperative to survival. This is the first time in the history of the Longest Walks led by Banks that data was collected to have a better understanding of the strengths and struggles within diverse tribal and non-tribal communities.
Solutions and strategies are being sought which encompass the resources and systems needed to address needs surrounding the root causes of substance use and domestic violence. More importantly community strengths, cultural and spiritual solutions are at the forefront and the foundation of all solutions. To achieve this, the LW5 team spent many hours meeting with individuals, groups, distributing surveys, answering questions, and providing support and guidance to the communities they encountered.
We will continue to build a platform of understanding and healing until we reach Washington DC in July of 2018.
We will begin phase three of our journey in Seattle WA on February 16th, 2018 and walk across the nation arriving in Washington DC on July 14th, 2018.
We will continue to call attention to and seek guidance on the issues that are causing devastation on Indian Reservations and communities in the United States. Along the journey we will continue to work with communities, hold gatherings and collect information on ways to heal our people and the earth in an attempt to get the bigger picture of the issues. The information will be used to help determine what we must do to help halt this devastation. This effort will help prepare a new generation of Native leaders and community leaders to help guide us to a better future.
The issues facing our people and the issues facing our Earth are connected. They both arise from the kind of thinking that does not value people or the Earth. Native American traditions oppose this sort of thinking. We say all life is sacred, and we speak as the conscience of our Earth.
--Dennis Banks, National Field Director of the American Indian Movement