Thursday, April 28, 2016

Longest Walk Participants Take Break at Brushy Lake

Kid Valance, in back, and Arthur Jacobs, in front, are just two of the 30 participating in The Longest Walk 5, a Native American project to declare war on drugs, alcoholism and domestic violence. The 30 walkers and runners are spending Thursday night at Brushy Lake Park, north of Sallisaw, and will leave for Fort Smith on Friday morning. The walk started on Feb. 12, and the group plans to be in Washington, D.C., on July 15. This walk is being led by Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. Valance is the captain of the runners and Jacobs writes about the walk for Native News Online.Net on his laptop computer.

Hundreds of American Indians and supporters gathered Feb. 12 at the Barona Indian Reservation in San Diego County, California, when The Longest Walk 5 kicked off. (Photo Courtesy of Arthur Jacobs)

About 30 Native Americans and supporters are taking a break from a 3,600-mile walk at Brushy Lake Park Thursday and Friday morning.

The Longest Walk 5, according to the organization’s information, “is a 3,600 mile spiritual journey across America calling attention to, and seeking guidance on, drug-related issues and domestic violence, which are causing extensive devastation and suffering on Indian Reservations and within communities throughout the United States.”

The walk kicked off on Feb. 12 in California, and walkers plan to be in Washington, D.C., by July 15.

Dave Frebolt of San Jacinto, California, and his wife, Lois Taylor, said the group is on the 75th day.

“About 30 are going all the way,” Frebolt said. “Some just walk for a day, some for a week, some longer. We’ve had as many as 200.”

In Oklahoma, Dawne DuShane of Tahlequah and two other members of the Cherokee Nation have joined the walk.

DuShane said, “I want to aid in the effort to stop drug addiction and domestic abuse.”

Frebolt said the group depends on the kindness of those along the way for food and shelter. The City of Sallisaw was donating their brief stay at Brushy Lake Park. Tribes and others along the way often make monetary and other donations, he said.

“We survive by donations,” Frebolt said. “The hospitality is overwhelming from everyone.”

Frebolt, who is not Native American, said he decided to participate in the walk because is a retired drug dealer, and spent seven years in prison for drugs.

“I decided I needed to give back to society for those years and for the lives damaged. It’s a way to clear the conscious and help everybody.”

Frebolt said, “Every day is a life-changing experience.”

Kid Valance, originally of Winchester, Ky., was asked to be the run captain of the journey. He said runners have kept the run going from the Pacific Ocean and plan to continue all the way to Washington.

“That’s special,” he said.

Valance lost a nephew to drugs, which is one of the reasons he is participating. Also a singer and songwriter, Valance said he wrote a song for the walk, “To Be Here (a Blessing).”

“Dennis (Banks) asked me to write the song since I lost my nephew,” Valance explained. He said Banks understands the loss because Banks lost a granddaughter as the result of domestic violence.

Drugs, alcohol and domestic violence are often intertwined, Frebolt said. The men said the group is sometimes approached by those addicted or involved in domestic violence. The group will offer help or “We just tell them to pack up and come along with us.”

Frebolt said the walkers and runners “crow hop” along less well-traveled roads. He explained some walk, or run, for five or so miles, then others take their place. The group plans to make about 20 miles a day. Their next stop will be in Fort Smith. Cars and trucks carry those not walking or running, food, tents, camping supplies and other items.

The group’s information states that, along the way on the long journey, they will host forums on the issues, visit with those involved in the war on drugs, alcohol and domestic violence, and gather information to prepare the next generation of Native Americans and community leaders to battle the addiction and abuse ills.

“On our quest we tirelessly search for ways to support, uplift and empower our troubled relatives, who are trapped in the hell of addiction, so they can begin a path toward healing their mind, body and spirit,” their information declares.

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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