The Circle at the Nez Home in Sanders, Arizona

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Aramndo,Victor,Marina Nez

SANDERS, ARIZONA – Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs and Domestic Violence stopped  in Sanders, Arizona on March 14, 2016. Strangers appeared with many donations for theWalkers and were greeted warmly by everyone. They have been following Dennis Banks since 1973. They had been in contact with Orlando Vigil, National Coordinator for The Longest Walk 5 war on drugs and domestic violence, for about a week and waiting for the right time to come in and meet everyone.

Everyone, including our hosts and local people, came into the house and gathered in a circle. Dennis Banks told a story of a time when a stranger came to a village for the first time. The people of the village didn’t know what to do because they had never received a visitor before. They called on the Creator to guide them.

The Creator asked them, “why do you call me?”

They said that they called him because they did not know what to do with the visiting stranger. He told them, “Take care of them! Treat them like you would want to be treated! Take an eagle feather and brush the stranger’s lips so he would speak clearly and they could understand him. Take the eagle feather and brush his ears so that he could understand what they said to him. Brush his legs because he has traveled far to get to you. The creator told them they must offer him the best food and give him the best place to rest, so that when he leaves he can tell everyone how he was treated.”

We have been treated this way by our hosts in Sanders. We will tell everyone how well we were treated and they will speak on how we acted. Dennis Banks gifted many people with patches from the Longest Walk 5 and spoke of the generosity of our hosts. These people who were strangers came to support the Longest Walk 5.

Mr. Banks said “the highest honor to be given is an eagle feather.” Dennis Banks gave an eagle feather to Victor Herbert (Nez), who ran ceremonies for us. This same eagle feather that was previously gifted to Dennis Banks. 

Tony and Betty Shannon were not Natives but clearly their hearts were. They recognize the plight of Native Americans in Pine Ridge and all over the United States struggling with alcoholism and drug abuse. They brought monetary donations, elk meat, sleeping bags, blankets, fifty pairs of socks, propane, water, tobacco and so much more. Most of all they brought a spirit of giving and support. They gifted Dennis Banks an eagle feather, which he in turn gifted to Victor Herbert (Nez), who ran ceremonies for us here in Sanders. I saw the people smile with great appreciation. The hosts gifted Dennis a gourd, which he loved, stating that he wanted to learn bird songs. Everyone was recognized for their contributions on our journey to Washington, DC. Our circle ended with Blue Eagle Vigil performing four bird songs of the Kumeyaay people.

Like in the story, we will tell of the generosity of Anita Nalwood and being welcomed into the home of her brother, Ambrose Nez. We will speak of the generosity of these strangers who went out of their way to come down and meet us, wanting nothing in return. We will speak of the generosity and warm welcome of Jennifer Nez and her family. But most of all, we will speak of the Diné people who brought food not only for our stomachs but for our spirits as well.

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Anita Nahtwood

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