Group traverses continent to spread message
The Shawnee News-Star
Shawnee Oklahoma, Philip Deer, Bill Wahpepah Memorial
Sunday, April 9, 1995
Group traverses continent to spread message
Twenty-five people representing diverse areas, including
France, Germany, Ohio, Japan, and Arizona, paused in their
walk for global peace Saturday at the home of Susan Whitewater,
who lives east of Meeker.
Global Peace Walk '95 was organized in an effort to educate
people across the United States on issues affecting Native
Americans and other indigenous people around the world.
Their message is that all people around the world need to
learn to respect the land and to respect life in the tradition
of the Native American and other indigenous people.
The walkers are staying at Whitewater's home while they
participate in a memorial for Bill Wahpepah and Philip Deer,
both founders of the American Indian Treaty Council.
Wahpepah and Deer, among others, brought the issues of
the Native American people and other indigenous people
before the general assembly of the United Nations to make
those issues world issues, not just issues within certain
countries, said Rev. Yusen Yamato, a nonsectarian Zen
Buddhist monk from San Francisco who helped organized the walk.
The group stopped in Oklahoma because of the large
number of Native Americans here, Yamato said.
As the United States colonized North America, the
government relocated the native tribes in Oklahoma,
said Wonono Rubio, a member of the Santa Barbara,
Calif., Chumash (a Native American) community.
"The U.S. stole land, forced people here.
We pray for global peace now."
Rubio said that another reason the group came to
Oklahoma is because of land and life abuses here.
Members of the group said they believe that "Mother Earth"
is rebelling against the technology and exploitation of the
land. Rubio and Yamato said that without respect, the earth
is rebelling by the increase in disasters such as drought,
accidents, tornadoes and airplane accidents.
Acts of disrespect include mining for uranium and minerals,
relocating indigenous people from their native lands and
dumping toxic waste, Rubio said.
"In Oklahoma, the underground water is poisoned
from burying toxic waste," Rubio said.
He said large holes were dug underground and lined
with concrete to contain barrels of toxic waste in Oklahoma.
However, the lining on these holes has deteriorated, which
has allowed the waste to leak, he said. Rubio said the leaks
have happened in Oklahoma and other states as well.
Yamato said this is a purification time, that the earth
is cleansing itself because people are poisoning the
land, water and people.
Abuses of land and life are occurring around the world,
Rubio said. In Japan today, there are 39 nuclear power
plants, and Rubio said that plans are being made to add
72 plants by the end of the century. He added that the
area is well known for its high level of seismic activity.
Rubio also mentioned the North American Free Trade
Agreement, which was signed December 17, 1992, by
United States President George Bush, Mexican President
Salinas and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
According to the 1995 Information Please Almanac,
NAFTA is a "framework agreement proposed to eliminate
restrictions on the flow of goods, services, and investment
in North America."
"NAFTA is streamlining for exploiting countries for
raw materials," Rubio said. "The materials come
from indigenous peoples lands."
Yamato said the peace walk is about the environment
and what people will have to do to survive.
"We have to change our consciousness, must respect
the American Indian issue," Yamato said. "We have
to make it a global issue. Our walk is a spiritual united nation."
Other major issues the group has taken up include the
exploitation of indigenous lands for minerals and
uranium mining. The group is also against nuclear
testing, the use of nuclear weapons and misuse of energy.
As the walkers pass through different areas, they collect
issues to pray about and carry to the UN celebration and
hold peace ceremonies at symbolic sites.
The walkers themselves represent various issues and
people. Chris Daniels, from Ohio, is walking because
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is trying to put a
nuclear waste dump over a fault in Ohio.
Rubio said an earthquake registering 3.5 on the Richter
scale occurred just last month in the area where the
site will be located. He added that the congressman
advocating the placement of the dump said it would
provide jobs and tax revenue to the district, one of
the poorest in Ohio. Nuclear waste from several
countries would be dumped at the site, Rubio said.
Another issue represented by a walker is that of the
Dineh (Navajo) people in Arizona. Nick Bailey, from
Flagstaff, Ariz., said that he is a friend of the Dineh
Nation in Arizona.
He said that indigenous people in the area are being
relocated off the reservation to make way for a coal
mining operation. He added the miners have also
found uranium under the coal, which will be mined
as soon as the coal is removed.
"This has caused an increase in alcoholism, suicide
and the crime rate among the people," Bailey said.
"The people are leaving the land, breaking the sacred
cycle, which is causing considerable hurt on a personal level."
Bailey also added that the company in charge of the
mining operation is also pumping half a million gallons
of underground water into the mining area each day.
He said 10 years ago, workers had to dig 250 feet to
reach the underground water table. Today workers
must dig 800 feet deep to reach the water table.
"Because of this, the land is eroding, drying up today,"
Bailey said. "This land is being raped by their
The group began walking from the United Nations in
New York City on Jan. 15, 1995, the anniversary of
Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday. They are walking
to San Francisco with a message of global community
and respect for the land and respect for life and to
commemorate the 50th anniversary of the signing of
the United Nations Charter. They plan to arrive in
San Francisco on June 20, the beginning of the
Mayors and leaders of various cities across the
country have written to Yamato expressing their
support of the group's efforts.
"I am pleased to send my greetings to all the participants
in the United Nations 50th anniversary Peace Walk '95,"
New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, wrote in a
letter Jan. 15. "On behalf of all New Yorkers, I ask you
to convey throughout the world our wish for peace.
May your physical and spiritual journey in pursuit of
global peace inspire the world's leaders."
Letters of support were also sent from Sharpe James,
mayor of Newark, N.J.; Gregory S. Lashutka, mayor
of Columbus, Ohio; Tom Ridge, governor of the
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Timothy R.
Costanza, mayor of Shippensburg Penn.
Freeman R. Bosley Jr., mayor of St. Louis, Mo. wrote,
"Throughout our world today, there is a plethora
of tension and strife. Far too many nations are
pre-occupied with civil unrest and military warfare.
However, senseless loss of life, liberty, and property
can be diminished once mankind regains a vision
of world peace."
Several organizations sent letters of support,
including the Spiritual Assembly of the Bahai's of
the City of New York; The King Center, The Martin
Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change,
Inc.; and the National Rainbow Coalition.
Along their trek, the walkers have stopped at various
sites of nuclear accidents, including Three Mile Island,
the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in the
United States and at the Leavenworth Penitentiary
in Lawrence, Kan.
The walkers held a three-day fast at the prison in
mid-March for Leonard Peltier, a Native American
activist who they believe was falsely accused by the
Federal Bureau of Investigations of killing two agents.
Peltier also helped organize the walk.
The group walked through Missouri and Kansas in March.
Beginning in April, they walked through cities in Oklahoma,
including Bartlesville, Tulsa and Stroud.
After leaving Whitewater's home, they will walk to El Reno,
Watonga, Seiling, Woodward, Slapout, Gray, Guyman,
Eva and Boise City. They will continue through New Mexico,
where they will participate in an Earth Day Global Unity event;
Arizona where they will hold a Spiritual Unity Gathering, and California.
June 14-19, the peace walkers will hold a Global Peace
Walk Rally, where they say they hope about 100,000 people
will walk with them from San Jose to San Francisco, Rubio said.
They will arrive in San Francisco June 20 to celebrate
the United Nations 50th anniversary with prayer and
speeches from Nobel Peace prize winners for
world peace, Rubio said.