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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | East Bay | U.S. | Drug War | Environment & Forest Defense | Racial Justice
Miwok Elder Participates in his Fifth Longest Walk
Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo (Miwok), a long-time resident of Vallejo, will be taking part in the Longest Walk 5. Wounded Knee is the only person who will have participated in all five Longest Walks.
Miwok Elder Participates in his Fifth Longest Walk
By: Angel Heart
February 1, 2016 -Vallejo, CA
Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo (Miwok), a long-time resident of Vallejo, will be taking part in the Longest Walk 5 beginning February 13, 2016 at La Jolla Shores in San Diego, California. Wounded Knee is the Founding Executive Director of the Vallejo based organization Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes. (SSPRIT). For many years, Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo advocated for the protection of sacred site, “Sogorea Te” located in the Glen Cove area of Vallejo. A spiritual occupation of the Native American Sacred Burial Site lasted 109 days, beginning in April of 2011 and ending in August of 2011. At the time of the spiritual occupation, Wounded Knee stated, “It was time for Indigenous peoples across this country to take a stand and say ‘no more’ to desecrating the sacred sites of our ancestors,” “No more digging up our ancestors and putting them in garbage cans and in garbage bags. “No more digging up our ancestors and putting them in museums and leaving them in cardboard boxes and gym lockers, taking their artifacts and their sacred objects.” “UC Berkeley has 13,000 remains stored, and some of those remains came right from sacred site; Sogorea Te.” The spiritual occupation of Sogorea Te ended with a cultural easement; a landmark decision that had never been done within city limits or with a park district within a city.
Wounded Knee also advocated many years for the removal of the Vallejo High School Mascot; Apache. Members, supporters, and allies of SSPRIT addressed the Vallejo City Unified School District requesting the mascot be removed as it is offensive to First Nations Peoples. In addressing VCUSD, SSPRIT, stated, “The use of Indians as symbols and mascots is incongruous with promoting respect for inclusiveness and diversity”. “Native mascots perpetuate the myth that Native America is purely historical and devoid of any contemporary relevance”. Wounded Knee and SSPRIT maintain, that the issue of ethnic mascots is not one of being politically correct; it is a problem of ignorance and an issue of Civil Rights. These images hide the fact that Native American cultures are living cultures with contemporary relevance. The Vallejo High School Mascot was removed in November of 2013.
Wounded Knee states, “The Longest Walks are held to bring attention to issues that directly affect Native Americans”. “Myself, and several SSPRIT members will be participating in the Longest Walk 5”. The first Longest Walk was organized in 1978 to bring attention to 11 bills pending in U.S. Congress. The Native Americans Equal Opportunity Act would have eliminated all treaties between the U.S. government and tribal nations and was an attempt to reverse the course of federal Indian policy. It called for the abrogation of all treaties. However, the bill did not pass, largely due to the attention brought by the walk from California to Washington D.C. The Longest Walk 2, “All Life is Sacred” was organized in 2008 to protect sacred sites on tribal land throughout Indian country. The Longest Walk 3, “Reversing Diabetes” was organized in 2011 to address the diabetes epidemic throughout Indian country. Native Americans suffer the highest rates of diabetes, followed by African Americans. The Longest Walk 4 was a reverse walk held in 2014. It began in Washington, D.C., and ended on Alcatraz Island. The purpose of the Longest Walk 4 was to educate Americans about the history of the many tribal removals of First Nations Peoples from their homelands due to government policy. The Longest Walk 5, will cover 3,600 miles, and will travel through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, before ending in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2016. Dennis Banks, Co-Founder of the American Indian Movement, will be leading The Longest Walk 5 and has declared this walk to be a “War on drugs”.
In 2014, Spiritual Walkers of the Longest Walk 4 arrived in Vallejo and stopped during their walk at sacred site, Sogorea Te. The longest walkers offered prayers to the ancestors buried at the sacred site and held a brief discussion, followed by a pot luck. The longest walkers were hosted by SSPRIT and Vallejo Artist Residency, New Pacific Studio. Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo is the only person who will have participated in all five Longest Walks.
For more information about the Longest Walk 5: War on Drugs, contact National Coordinator Orlando Vigil at 619-820-5945, or visit the Longest Walk 5 website: http://www.longestwalk.us/
For more information about SSPRIT, please go to: http://www.facebook.com/save.sacredsites.1 or email: sspandrit [at] gmail.com