American Indian activists will be in Oklahoma through Tuesday participating in The Longest Walk 2, a commemoration of the original Longest Walk in 1978. Participants left Berkeley, Calif., on Feb. 10 this year taking two routes, a northern and southern, on their way to Washington, D.C. The two groups plan to meet outside Washington on July 10 or 11.
Michael Rojas, a spokesman for the group, said there are approximately 160 people walking from California to Washington " 100 on the southern route and 60 on the northern route. According to Rojas, the walk is supposed to "raise awareness about issues impacting our world environment, to protect sacred sites and to clean up Mother Earth."
The southern route of the Longest Walk will go through several states with large American Indian populations, including Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. Rojas said the group received a great deal of support from Oklahomans, explaining that "many native people who settled in Oklahoma were removed from their ancestral lands."
The so-called Trail of Tears was named for the trek taken by tribes relocated from Southern states to what was then Indian Territory in the 1800s. Following passage of the Indian Removal Act of 1830, the Choctaw nation was relocated to what is present-day Oklahoma, followed by the Seminole, Creek, Chickasaw and Cherokee nations.
In Oklahoma City, Rojas said he spoke to Oklahoma Indians and discovered that 28 of the roughly 40 tribes or nations in the state are united in opposition to Senate Bill 163, the English-only initiative that has already passed the state House of Representatives. " Greg Horton