“40-50% of Native people have some form of Diabetes. It is a crippling disease that if left unchecked will doom the population of Native people within 500 years. Therefore we as Native Nations must declare war on Diabetes. Within 50 years we must completely reverse it. -Dennis Banks September 2010 – Longest Walk
The Long Walk is a 5,000+ mile(10,000 total if you count both groups) Walk Across America with the goal of bringing awareness of the devastating effects of diabetes in tribal communities where it as well as obesity and heart disease occur in epidemic proportions. The rate of amputations related to diabetes for Native Americans is 3 to 4 times higher than among the general population and death rates due to diabetes among Native Americans are 3 times higher. They started in Portland on Feb. 14 and plan on arriving in Washington, D.C., on July 8. Two walking groups are taking the trip to D.C., one on a northern and one on a southern route. The first walk took place in 1978 and the second was in 2008. This is the first a year a northern route was taken.
The southern route even picked up Yukio Iimura, a Japanese Buddhist monk who works in San Francisco. He his steps and drumbeat joined those of the rest of the walkers in San Diego.
When the northern route hit the Badlands they went on horseback to support some of the elderly walkers.
The walking group holds community talks along the way about reversing diabetes and heart disease. The Long Walk northern route walked into Pine Ridge, South Dakota, last week, with little or no local media attention and then walked to the reservation bordertown of White Clay to offer prayers for healing. White Clay is the off-reservation Nebraska town that thrives off of providing alchohol to the Native population since the reservations themselves are dry. More than 4.5 million cans of beers are sold annually in White Clay amounting to more than 12,500 cans of beer a day.
On Sunday, the walkers were in Wanblee, South Dakota. Photos were sent via Carl Bad Bear Sampson, Western Shoshone, and his father, to Censured News.
On the northern route, walker Lisa Peake, Ojibwe/Pomo, offers a prayer for the earth and the people, when walkers arrive at the oversized equipment for Conoco Phillips tar sands refinery, which is snowbound on the pass. Long walker Paul Owns the Sabre, Cheyenne River Lakota elder, pointed out that Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce led his people over Lolo Pass.
The northern route in Lapwai, Idaho, with the Nez Perce
Some facts about diabetes and Native populations (source):
- 16.3 percent — amount of American Indians and Alaska Natives with diabetes
- 8.7 percent — amount of whites with diabetes
- 3.3 million — number of American Indians and Alaska Natives with diabetes (measured in 2007)
- 95 percent — of those American Indians with diabetes, 95 percent have Type II diabetes
- 30 percent — estimated amount of American Indians and Alaska Natives with pre-diabetes
- 2.2 times higher — likelihood of American Indians to have diabetes compared with non-Hispanic whites
- 3 times higher — death rate due to diabetes for American Indians compared to general U.S. population
- Information from Indian Health Service’s Division of Diabetes Treatment and Prevention. The Indian Health service is a federal health program for American Indians and Alaska Natives.
Check out the routes and encourage your local paper to acknowledge the walk.
Northern Route: Oregon- 2/14 – 3/4 Idaho- 3/4 – 3/14 Montana- 3/14 – 3/30 South Dakota- 3/30 – 4/14 North Dakota- 4/14 – 4/28 Minnesota- 4/28 – 5/8 Wisconsin- 5/8 – 5/22 Illinois- 5/22 – 6/1 Indiana- 6/1 – 6/12 Ohio- 6/12 – 6/22 West Virginia- 6/22 – 6/30 Virginia- 6/30 – 7/8 North Carolina- 6/25 – 7/2
Southern Route: California- 2/14 – 2/24 Arizona- 2/24 – 3/16 New Mexico- 3/16 – 4/6 Texas- 4/6 – 4/8 Oklahoma- 4/8 – 4/28 Arkansas- 4/28 – 5/1 Louisiana- 5/1 – 5/17 Mississippi- 5/17 – 5/20 Alabama- 5/20 – 5/22 Florida- 5/22 – 6/12 Georgia- 6/12 – 6/19 South Carolina- 6/19 – 6/25 Virginia- 7/2 – 7/8 Washington DC !!!!