Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Longest Walk 3. Discussion »
WASHINGTON - In the end, only seven individuals made it all the way across America.
Chris Martin(l to r), Chris Francisco, Dean Williams, Ray MucKuk, Clara
(front row)Craig Luther and Ellyn Carlson
These seven were part of the Longest Walk 3 - Reversing Diabetes that began on February 14 to bring the message of the devastating effects diabetes has among American Indians.
These seven were part of the Longest Walk that attracted hundreds - even thousands - along Longest Walk because American Indians believed in the powerful message. Only these seven made it.
These seven began the Longest Walk 3 - Reversing Diabetes on February 14 and stayed with the entire length of the Longest Walk - all the way to Washington DC: from the northern route - Chris Francisco, Diné, who served as the northern route's coordinator; Chris Martin, Diné, Craig Luther, Diné, Ellyn Carlson, Okanagan/Spokane, the three who made from the southern route - Clara, Colombian, Raymond MucKuk, Ojibwe and Dean Williams, Ojibwe.
Dennis Banks, who conceived of the Longest Walk 3 - Reversing Diabetes, presented the seven with eagle feathers as a gesture of gratitude.
To take time to walk across America takes time, dedication and focus.
“This type of walk requires focus to remain constant,”
said Clara of New Hampshire, has walked in other walks for causes. She will participate in a walk to bring attention to the danger of nuclear power.
“We went on this walk because we cared about our people,”
said Francisco of Portland, Oregon. "A lot of people came out and walked with us. Some who don't usually exercise, even elders. One elder at Rosebud wanted to walk the entire way even though she was tired and they had golf carts there to give elders rides. She was determined to walk up this hill to finish with us and she did."
For Raymond MucKuk, 43, this was the second time he walked in a Longest Walk with Dennis Banks. He did so in 2008. Banks affectionately calls him "all the way Ray." Originally from Canada, MucKuk lives in Minneapolis.
"For me, I would have to take it as a job because of the time we had to get up and the time we finished at night. Sometimes we were out by six in the morning and did not get done until it got dark," commented MucKuck.
Not only a walker, he also ran so that the entire group could get credit for miles and would not have walk. In Florida he ran 40 miles in one day and during the Long Walkers time in North Carolina, MucKuk ran 100 miles in a 30 hour period.
At the National Diabetes Summit in Leesburg, Virginia, Ellyn Carlson from Tacoma, Washington, expressed how she walked for someone. "For the first time in my life, I feel part of something," the twenty-one year old told the summit attendees. "This has changed my life completely." On Saturday, Carlson boarded a bus that will take her back across the United States going home to Tacoma.
"I am much more aware of diabetes than I was before I started. I did not know much about it as I do now," said Martin from Utah. "I will be much more sensitive to my relatives who suffer from the disease." Martin's wife, Anita, joined him when she could along the northern route. She was with him in South Dakota and again she was with him in Virginia and Washington DC. They will spend this week traveling home to Utah.
Craig Luther, the son of Chris and Anita Martin, feels the walk was meaningful. "We walked into people's communities and told them about diabetes. This will become like my life's mission - to work to get the message out about eating the right things. As we went to different Indian reservations, we saw that people were not always eating the right things. There is a lot of work that needs to be done."
Williams, a diabetic, began the Longest Walk in LaJolla, California as the cook for Long Walkers. A few weeks later, he decided to become a power walker. "The way Indian tribes opened up to us was unbelievable," said Williams. "There is still a lot of work that needs to be done in getting the message out about diabetes."
Several the seven Long Walkers discussed what is already being done on tribal lands.
"I will say 'you have to care for your people. It cannot be a 9 - 5 job. If you are working for the government, don't just come in an put down brochures; it takes more,' " said Chris Francisco. "People need to watch the video 'Simply Raw' and see that diabetes can be reversed. When it comes right down to it, it is like an old Navajo philosophy:
'only you can do it.'”
posted July 11, 2011 1:00 pm edt
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