Published February 12, 2016
BARONA INDIAN RESERVATION – Hundreds of American Indians and supporters are gathering today, Friday, February 12, 2016, on the day before the beginning of the Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs on the Barona Indian Reservation, the home of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, in northern San Diego County.
Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement, will lead the Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs, along a three-thousand mile route from California to Washington, D.C.
“Because of the extremely high rate of suicides, and other drug-related deaths, I am issuing a state of war declaration between the American Indian Movement and drugs across America. The deaths are at a pandemic stage,” said Banks last September when the walk was announced.
The Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs will begin on February 13, 2016 in La Jolla, California and end in Washington, DC on July 15, 2016.
The meeting today in Barona allowed those who will participate in the Longest Walk 5 to gather and get instructions on best practices for long-walking as they make their way across America. There were tents set up by several tribes that distributed anti-drug materials.
“Today, I announce a walk across America to draw attention to and seek guidance on drug-related issues that are causing devastation on Indian reservations and communities in the United States,” stated Banks, who has been involved in several Longest Walks since 1978.
The Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs will visit several American Indian reservations and communities as it makes its way to Washington, DC. At various stops, Banks will meet with tribal officials and other American Indians involved in substance abuse issues in Indian Country.
Orlando Vigil will serve as the national coordinator of the Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs.
The organizers of the Longest Walk welcome those who want to participate along the route – even if for an hour, day or other – to show support for the war on drugs.
Native News Online photos by Arthur Jacobs.
Levi Rickert contributed to this report from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.