Longest 5 – War on Drugs
YUMA, ARIZONA – My name is Cryselle Montague in the engineering field.
One day I was a rod person. I was working outside on a nice day. Our other surveyors had to go into the shop to get instruments. As they went in to get the instruments, I was outside.
I didn’t mind. I got to looking around, and right next to me was a corral. In the corral there were cows, they were grazing and wandering about. I noticed that they all started walking into one direction. So I looked over to see what are they looking at? Where are they going? I wanted to know why.
So I looked over and I saw that on the fence wire there was a little bird. The little bird was walking back and forth. I noticed that that little bird had all of the cows’ attention. The cows were watching it and it amazed me. I was watching and thinking, what is that bird doing? How is it getting the cows’ attention? How do they know the bird is there? Does the bird have something to tell them?
As they were there, I thought you know what? The bird must be telling them a story. It is probably telling them about everything that he has seen. The bird flies and goes and sees everything. The bird sees the world and it has seen it change through different times. What is it telling them?
The cows were really paying attention. It made me feel good because I thought to myself, those cows are in a corral, it is fenced off and that is the only place that they know. That is there home. That is there world. But, along comes this bird who has this story to tell. The cows probably cannot even believe what they are hearing.
That is why I have brought this up in our discussion. All of the walkers and the runners, they are starting here, and this is bird country. The California tribes—we are birds. Here in Quechuan, we are birds. In the Longest Walk Four, our birds went, our birds are our women. They are the ones that joined the Longest Walk Four, at that time the struggle was to bring attention to diabetes and how it was affecting Indian Country. It had a huge impact here on our tribe and we saw the strength, our women took up the flag and took up the staff and walked. It was a grandmother, her granddaughter and a young fourteen year old girl.
Now the walkers on the Longest Walk 5 are walking to put an end to drugs and domestic violence. Drugs lead to domestic violence and we must end them both now.
The Walkers are our birds. They felt the spirit of the walk. On the Longest Walk 4, our walkers (our birds) said they would go a little ways. That little ways ended up taking them all the way to Washington, DC. That is how strong it was. The women came home with the stories to tell. They reminded me of that little bird on the wire.
Now, the Longest Walk 5 comes to our land again and can witness the hospital that we had hoped for, that the Longest Walk 4 helped us obtain. At that time our people (our birds) carried that message all through Indian Country and all the way to Washington, DC, to say that diabetes is killing our people. It is killing Quechan people. Our numbers of those with diabetes were the highest in the country at that time. Now we have this health facility. This walk is powerful. It is very powerful. Thank the Creator. Those birds will reach the ears of whoever need to hear it. It is that spirit and how strong it is. It is a blessing and we must keep it going. The Longest Walk 5 message to end drugs and domestic violence will spread and like birds they will bring the message to the people who need to hear it!
Cryselle Montague-Uribe is a tribal council member of the Quechan Indians based at Fort Yuma-Quechan Reservation, near Yuma, Arizona.