Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo
Published February 20, 2017
NICE, CALIFORNIA – The Longest walk was welcomed with a sacred fire at YA-KA-AMA, (which translates into Our Land), located in Marin County. This sacred fire warmed our soul, our spirit and provided a refuge for the cold weather. It was here that we gathered as a community to share our medicine, our dance and our camaraderie. We are especially grateful to the fire-keeper White Eagle for providing us with this sacred medicine.
Robert Wallace and Adrian White Eagle
We were fed beautifully prepared traditional food, including local salmon. After the meal, the Pomo Manchester Point Arena Tribe gifted us with sacred song, dance, and prayer. We were truly honored and humbled to be invited to enter the sacred circle, and join in the traditional dance.
One of the walkers was gifted a shawl by Round Valley tribal member Alberta Manuel. She asked that we take this shawl on to Washington D.C., and that we remember her and those who cannot walk.
Cecelia Dawson and Alberta Manuel
As we traveled through Santa Rosa, Mayor Chris Coursey came out to welcome the Longest Walk. He said, “I want to wish you a good journey. I appreciate the causes that you stand for, that you walk for, that you run for. I am glad that you chose Santa Rosa to be part of your journey. I want to wish you a few things on your walk. I hope the sun is warm for you, but not too hot, and the breezes are cool, but not cold., and the days are full, but not long ,and that your bodies are tired but not broken and that you finish strong,” said Mayor Coursey.
Robert Wallace, Mayor Chris Coursey (Santa Rosa), Chief Harry Kindness, Ray Whitehawk Sinclair
As we arrived at Robinson Rancheria, one of the walkers walked, ran, and sprinted with the shawl feeling the wind medicine as she prayed for Alberta and all those who cannot walk. Nicholita Gene, joined the walk to honor her late uncle, Jack Gene. She said she will never forget the feeling of being in the circle as we honored her uncle. We walk for those who are in treatment, for those who are incarcerated, for our elders. We walk for the warriors who gave their lives so that we can live free today. We carry them in our hearts and prayers.
Prayer is our traditional medicine, as our esteemed elder Fred Short said, “We need to respect the traditional ways.” He went on to state, “We are always going to learn something if we listen. Write down what you feel in your heart, talk to the mountains, talk to the trees, always have tobacco on hand. Keep learning write it all down.” It is our elders who pass on the teachings that have been around for time immemorial.
James Brown Eagle, the loco Pomo Historian said, “We are going to awaken ourselves up, we need to go back to our traditional ways, to our traditional foods, to our traditional medicines.” He talked about the importance of prayer and he also spoke of the rich history of the area that dates back 22 thousand years. He said they always respect and honor mother earth, that is why they dance barefoot so that they can truly connect with mother earth.
Dennis Banks (Ojibwe): Still Strong
Lisa Peake, who is Pomo and Anishinaabe, spoke of respecting the ways of those whose land we walk upon. Similarly Dennis Banks spoke of this he said, “We need to ask permission from the ancestors, spirit life, animal life, and most importantly the people whose land we walk upon, we have to ask permission to be there in a good way, to respect all life.”
In the evening the Lake County Pomo dancers performed their beautiful dance and songs. We were fed a warm meal. It was especially endearing to see the children preparing plates for the elders, and two Pomo Dancers carried plates to the hotel for the elders, in doing so they truly honored the elders. The Robinson Rancheria of the Pomo Indians of California and surrounding communities exemplified what it is to be a true native, as we all stood together in the circle of unity.
We would like to give a special thanks to E.J. Crandell, Chairman of the Robinson Rancheria for providing rooms for the elders, and ensuring that we were taken care of in a good way. Aho