The Longest Walk: Running 4,000 Miles for Sobriety

Matika Wilbur/ The Longest Walk: Some of the 30 Native Americans running 4,000 miles through 12 states, from San Francisco to Washington D.C., stopping at 56 indigenous communities to send a message of sobriety.

Would you run 4,000 miles for someone you love? 30 Native runners are doing just that

Imagine running from San Francisco to Washington D.C. Would you run 4,000 miles for the one you love? Through rain? Up mountains? In snow? What would motivate you to make such a journey?

These 30 Native American runners and walkers are doing just that. They will cross 12 states, 18 mountain ranges and touch down in 54 tribal communities in pursuit of the message and solidarity to help end drug abuse and curtail the domestic violence plaguing our Native communities. They journey because they believe that with each prayerful step they take, each hand they shake and each community they break bread with, they help realize a magnanimous vision to heal Indian country.

This is not the first time this has happened. The Longest Walk, established by the American Indian Movement (AIM), saw 40,000 Native people and their allies march from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to bring attention to the Native American Equal Opportunity Act, which would have terminated the treaties of all sovereign Native nations with the United States, obliterating Native ownership of land and the rights to hunt, fish and practice tribal sovereignty. The bill failed, largely because of the attention brought from the activism of The Longest Walk. Since then there have been four walks, each with its own aim.

Matika Wilbur/ Melissa Hill, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, Dine and Seneca, part of The Longest Walk, a 4,000-mile run for sobriety

The faith and strength of these runners and walkers are part of the renewed unity and power of Native America. The Walk is a transformative physical and spiritual approach to healing and reaching others, and its example and energies are drawing Native peoples together in purpose and enlightenment. Although such awakening has been foretold in our many cultures, we are nonetheless honored to witness and share this experience that is changing individual lives and uplifting Native America as a whole.

Matika Wilbur/ Bobby Wallace, National Chief of the Longest Walk 5.2, Barona Band of Mission Indians