Native Americans Long March: Again for the Environment

Native American issues and actions get very little attention from the white-run media these days, but the Associated Press finally paid some attention to the 100-person “Longest Walk 2,” which has trekked (photo: AP photo)

from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to draw attention to the effects of environmental devastation on American Indians and all people. The walk … is expected to end July 11, when organizers plan to present a 30-page manifesto of American-Indian environmental concerns to Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat who advocates on a wide range of minority issues, on the U.S. Capitol steps…. national organizer Dennis Banks … founded the first walk in 1978.

The accent is on the environmental impact of Americans’ waste and trash, but numerous other important Native American issues are also being accented by the march:

Along the way, Banks said they’ve picked up 3,800 bags of trash. They’ve also gathered a running list of American-Indian worries — everything from concern about burial grounds under threat in Kentucky to fears about the future of Arizona mountains threatened by ski resort development.

There is a great interest in the presidential campaign too, because of the first not-white candidate:

Their concerns gained renewed attention in May as Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama visited Montana’s Crow Indian reservation and was adopted into the nation during a private ceremony.

Why is there so little attention to Native American issues these days? Yet another sign of a white-controlled mass media? And in this case the media reporters and editors did not know enough about US and Native American history to inquire about the name, “Longest Walk,” of this march.

Consider the history of the destruction of Native American societies, which accelerated in the late 19th century. In the Southwest, Indian resistance was substantial. Military expeditions against Navaho and Apache communities in the Southwest attempted to destroy or hem them in. Establishing headquarters in Navaho territory, Col. Kit Carson began a scorched-earth program, destroying Navaho fields and herds. He herded his captives three hundred miles to a reservation—the infamous “Long Walk” that is central to the Navaho collective memory of oppression. By 1890 most of the remnants of Native American groups had been forced onto reservations. Most attempted to maintain historic cultures, including language and religion, and drew on their cultures to resist pressures of acculturation to white folkways, as they still do today.