RAPID CITY — A group of Native Americans who are trekking across America to raise awareness about diabetes and exploring ways to reverse its negative trend came through Rapid City last week.
“If we don’t change the way we live, then the Seventh generation will be in peril. We must set out to preserve our culture and bring back the eating lifestyle of our ancestors,” stated Nowacumig, Dennis Banks organizer of the Longest Walk 3.
The walk is divided into two routes, a southern route and a northern route. The two groups will meet up in Washington DC where the event will culminate at the National Summit for Diabetes on July 8.
Northern Route Coordinator Christopher Francisco, Diné, said the northern route began on Feb. 14 in Portland, Ore. and that they’ve traveled through Warm Springs and Pendleton, Ore., Lapwai, Idaho, went through Lolo Pass on to Missoula, Helena, Bozeman, Crow Agency and Lame Deer, Mont. before arriving in Rapid City.
“This is a 5,000 mile Walk Across America to bring awareness of the devastating effects of diabetes and how it can be reversed by changing our diets and lifestyles. This disease is at epidemic levels across America, and throughout Indian Country,” Francisco said.
Their trek through Rapid City started out at Lakota Homes and included Harold Dooley, Oglala Lakota, Gordon Plains Bull Jr., Ft. Peck Assiniboine Sioux, Manny Jim Calapoo, Warm Springs Shoshone/Paiute/Yakama, Carl Sampson, Shoshone/Yamba, Isaac Rios, Pomo Tribe, Autumn Two Bulls, Oglala Lakota, Ohininyan Two Bulls, Oglala Lakota, Gregory D. Henry, Paiute/Ho-Chunk, Roberta Crazy Thunder, Oglala Lakota, Chaska Guardado, Oglala Lakota, Vanessa Bear Runner-Guardado, Oglala Lakota, Anthony Handboy, Minnecoujou Lakota, Sophia Shangreau, Oglala Lakota, Wicanpiwin Thomas, Shawnee/Lakota, Adam Kornely, Lakota, William Good Voice Elk, Lakota, Cindy Good Voice Elk, Florida Seminole, Carla Rabbit, Oglala Lakota, Llewellyn Long Wolf Sr., Oglala Lakota, Lisa Peake, Ojibwe/Pomo, T-Hawk, Mohawk/Tonga, Ellyn Calson, Tacoma.
Native Sun News caught up with the walkers in front of the Pennington County Courthouse where they had stopped for prayer and words of encouragement. The prayer was offered by Billy Good Voice Elk Jr. who also sang an honor song.
As the walkers continued their trek out of Rapid City they were headed for the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation then on to Rosebud.
“We are going to be going through Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and on to Virginia. On July 8 we should be arriving in Washington, D.C.,” said Francisco.
They will meet up the Southern Route Longest Walkers three who are now traveling through Texas. The Southern Route will go on through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia.
“Diabetes awareness is the main reason we are doing this walk but we support every community that we go through. There are a lot of issues that each community is dealing with like suicides, alcoholism, and domestic violence, elderly abuse and domestic violence and these issues are all related,” he concluded.
Copyright permission by Native Sun News