The walk began on July 15 with a sunrise ceremony at the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C. and it followed the general route taken by the walkers from the first Longest Walk in 1978. The walk ended December 21 at Alcatraz Island in San Francisco, California.
“In 1978, 11 bills were introduced in the United States Congress that if passed would have harmed American Indian sovereign rights, with the worst of the bills calling for the abrogation of all Indian Treaties,” states The Longest Walk 4 press statement. “This inspired some people such as Dennis Banks and Bill Wahpepah to come up with a way of raising awareness about these bills and building support for Indian Treaty rights. They came up with an idea for a walk across the land from Alcatraz to Washington, D.C. So on February 11th, 1978 The Longest Walk began with a Ceremony on Alcatraz where a Sacred Pipe was filled, and that Pipe was carried across the land, with staffs and other sacred items.”
The walk carried out this year was for a number of reasons. According to the Return to Alcatraz website: “We walk to educate our own peoples on what tribal sovereignty means from an Indigenous Peoples way of life. We walk to affirm to the world that we still continue as free and sovereign peoples as we define it. We walk to remind those of our peoples engaged in dealing with the nation-states that tribal sovereignty is not defined by non-indigenous laws, rules and regulations; nor by economic development, good governance, and corporate structures.”
A ceremony was held when walkers arrived at Alcatraz on December 21 and this was followed by an Indigenous Sovereignty Gathering on December 22.