Published July 8, 2016
WASHINGTON — After a journey of 3,600 miles across America, the Longest Walk 5 – War Against Drugs and Violence will arrive at the Lincoln Memorial in the nation’s capital on Friday, July 15, 2016 for a day-long gathering.
“Because of the extremely high rate of suicides, and other drug-related deaths, I issued a state of war declaration between the American Indian Movement and drugs across America,” stated Dennis Banks, the Longest Walk’s senior advisor and co-founder of the American Indian Movement.
“If we don’t’ act now, the seventh generation will condemn this generation for doing nothing to halt this massive abuse and drug storm this generation is caught in. During this Longest Walk, we collected data on drug usage from various reservations visited during this journey across America. This information will help us plan for a new generation of Native leaders and community leaders to guide us to a better future,” said Banks.
The July 15th day-long event is being billed as “Visions – A Call to Action.” It will focus on the raw reality of the suffering in America and how it extends beyond the individual. Reflections will be shared by participants of the Longest Walk 5 and what can be done to combat the invasive drug problem that impacts Indian Country—and the rest of the United States.
Among those performing strong messages of healing and hope will be Kid Valance, who will sing the Longest Walk 5’s theme song, “To Be Here (A Blessing).” Three-time Grammy winner Bill Miller will also perform.
The Ojibwa Equa will bless the audience with a water healing ceremony. Banks will lead the crowd with his “Still Strong” song.
The Longest Walk 5 began in LaJolla, California, just outside of San Diego, on Saturday, February 13, 2016. It made it’s way across the southern part of the United States; next year the 2017 walk will be the center route, and the 2018 walk will be the northern route.
Though planning for the Longest Walk 5 was complete by the fall of 2015 and the focus was on a war on drugs, Banks added domestic violence as an added theme after his granddaughter was found murdered in December 2015 as the result of domestic violence.
Arthur Jacobs, who accompanied the Longest Walk 5 across the United States, contributed to the article from Virginia.