Santa Barbara Pair Plan Peace Relay
7,000 Mile Trek

Santa Barbara News & Review

Santa Barbara, California

Thursday, April 17, 1986

7,000 Mile Trek

Santa Barbara Pair Plan Peace Relay

by Russ Spencer

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Masao Nippashi: The heart and soul of a locally planned cross-country relay for peace

While 250 walkers in the Great Peace March have struggled through continuous financial and legal setbacks on their 3,200 mile crawl to Washington, D.C., a Santa Barbara peace activist and a friend who once studied in a Buddhist monastery have been quietly planning a logistically smaller, but equally ambitious, peace trek of their own.

David Crockett Williams, Jr., who has been involved in peace activities locally for more than 15 years, is organizing the trek, which he calls “The Great Spirit All My Relations 7000 Mile Relay Marathon, Walk, and Caravan.” His friend Masao Nippashi – a native of Japan who came to America 10 years ago and is providing “inspiration” for the walk – came up with the name, “Great Spirit” for the spirit of world peace. “All My Relations” for the ties between all people.

Williams said there will be a strong Native American and spiritual theme throughout the trek, scheduled to begin with a Chumash religious ceremony at the Stearn’s Wharf dolphin fountain on April 28. From there, a wooden staff with an attached Eagle feather is scheduled to be relayed by a team of runners through 7,000 miles of Indian lands across the United States, and doubling back for a sacred Hopi “Sundance” ceremony in Arizona July 4.

Williams and Nippashi will hold a gathering to distribute information and solicit support for the relay on Saturday, April 19, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Isla Vista’s Anisq’ Oyo park.

Williams said he hopes to focus United Nations attention on a federal order to relocate 10,000 Arizona Navajos when the relay passes through New York in late May. Only a thousand Navajos have moved since the order was passed 11 years ago, and government officials have threatened to bring in National Guard troops unless the remaining Native Americans have moved by July 8.

Williams pointed out that the unveiling of the refurbished Statue of Liberty is also scheduled for July 8 – a coincidence he described as “disheartening.”

The plan is to travel 180 miles a day – running day and night with each person carrying the staff an hour at a time. Support teams will be placed two days ahead of the runners to conduct public relations and hold peace demonstrations. Runners and the support group will be relying largely on donations from communities along the way, Nippashi said, adding that relay participants will not be allowed to consume any alcohol or drugs.

Williams said he is hoping the relay, although not now widely publicized, will gain national attention as it proceeds eastward and culminate with a major demonstration in New York City. His optimism doesn’t stop there, though – he also expects the rally will lead to a repeal of the Navajo relocation order and a productive disarmament session between the United States and the Soviet Union.