Ronald R. Cooper, Comanche, will be embarking on a 535-mile journey this September—the same journey the Navajos were forced to take in the 1860s.
The Navajo were forced to march from their traditional homelands in northeastern Arizona to join the Apache in Bosque Redondo at Fort Sumner, New Mexico. Many died in internment camps before taking the journey, more died on the Long Walk itself and even more on the squalid reservation.
The Comanche didn’t walk this Long Walk, but as Cooper says in his Kickstarter video: “We still had so many things in common with those tribes… that’s what I want to convey on the Long Walk. We all had the same struggles, we all had to walk a Trail of Tears or do a Long Walk in one form or another. Whether it was an actual, physical trail to a reservation or if it was just the transition from the old ways to the new.”
In 2011, Cooper, who is from Oklahoma, walked the Cherokee Trail of Tears. He crossed six states in three months and covered 835 miles to remember the tragedy and the resiliency of the Cherokee people. He wrote a book about his experience titled, It’s My Trail, Too—A Comanche Indian’s Journey on the Cherokee Trail of Tears.
For this journey he will begin September 1 at Fort Defiance, Arizona and travel through Gallup, New Mexico and on to Grants, Los Lunas, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Vegas and Fort Union. From there the route doubles back to Las Vegas and follows the east bank of the Pecos River up to Bosque Redondo and old Fort Sumner. He expects the journey to take as long as six weeks to complete.
“I’ll do it with my head held high,” he says of the journey. “Our people endured more than any nation in man’s history should endure, but we survived—we’re still here.” Cooper said in the video. “That’s the emphasis of this hike.”