American-Indian group walks the US to press causes

RICHMOND, Va. – With hopscotch speed, Shanawa Littlebow leapt to the side of the road, scooped up a plastic bottle cap and fell back into line with his fellow walkers, passing trailer homes and gas stations along Jefferson-Davis Highway.

Sweat beaded at his temples and dampened the seat of his cargo shorts.

The Tigua Indian man walked and searched for litter — a feathered staff in the crook of his right arm — in honor of Mother Earth.

“There may be a lot of people who don’t even care,” he said. “But at least we’re out here, and we’re speaking out.”

The 100-person caravan passed through Virginia Tuesday in the final stretch of the Longest Walk 2, an 8,300-mile trek from San Francisco to Washington, D.C. to draw attention to the effects of environmental devastation on American Indians and all people.

The walk began Feb. 11, and is expected to end July 11, when organizers plan to present a 30-page manifesto of American-Indian environmental concerns to Rep. John Conyers, a Detroit Democrat who advocates on a wide range of minority issues, on the U.S. Capitol steps.

The walk marks the 30th anniversary of the first Longest Walk, a 3,600-mile effort that gathered support to successfully halt bills before Congress that Native Americans said threatened their sovereignty.

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