Since Feb. 13 the American Indian Movement began a journey walking across the United States in efforts to raise awareness regarding difficult social issues plaguing the Native American community.
“The Longest Walk 5” is the seventh cross country walk for co-founder Dennis Banks and he says this may be the most important walk he's done thus far.
“If we didn't do anything, if we just stayed home and watched TV and played games our culture would really be at risk,” Banks said.
The walk is a movement to highlight drug abuse and domestic violence within the Native American community and to travel from state-to-state speaking with as many tribes and people as possible.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, American Indian middle school and high school students are about three times more likely to use heroin and OxyContin than the national average and the suicide rate amongst this age group has rapidly grown in the past 20 years.
Therefore, walkers hope to help inspire change within the community and gain support to help fight back against these issues.
Since arriving to Tulsa the group has walked over 1,500 miles and experienced more than 15 different levels of elevation, however the most difficult road may be ahead.
The walkers will travel back west though areas of Oregon and Washington before heading east to eventually end in Washington, DC.
Banks, who is 79-years-old, admits he's had issues during the treacherous journey, but says other members have encouraged one another to keep moving.
“We've had problems breathing at 8,000 feet. The heat has been apart of it in California. There's been some really chilly nights, but the gang, the crew, keeps on walking,” Banks said.
In order to donate funds to the “Longest Walk 5” and the American Indian Movement click here.
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