'The Longest Walk' comes through valley with goal to end drug abuse and domestic violence
WAPATO, Wash.- The longest march. A five month, 2,700-mile march from San Francisco to Washington D.C.
They plan to stop at every Native American reservation in the United States.
“It's bringing back the old way of bringing messages from village to village,” Elaine McCloud from the Chehalis Reservation said.
Their goal to unite all of them against drug abuse and domestic violence.
McCloud has been marching from western Washington and said the problems they want to fix go beyond the reservation borders.
“It's something that affects all of us. All of us know someone who has not made it because of domestic violence,” she said.
And she isn't wrong. In Yakima alone, police say they respond to around 10 domestic violence calls a day.
When it comes to drug abuse, Yakima County saw more overdose deaths last year than murders.
However, those with the Yakama Nation said these problems aren't highlighted the way they should be on reservation lands.
“For drug abuse and domestic violence, that does affect every community, but for our area we don't get to see a lot of recognition in general,” Angelique Williams with the Yakama Nation Victim Resource Program said.
The local walk started at the Yakama Nation Housing Authority in Wapato and everyone was given a shirt. Red for those that have gone missing and purple for domestic violence.
The Victim Resource Program set up clothes and a painting for woman who were never found or murdered over the years.
Headlines from local newspapers spread across the picture to show how often it happens.
The image was put next to traditional clothing to remember those women will never be seen again.
“They don't fill those clothes anymore. They don't wear these garments anymore. That's just the realization that those clothes are empty,” Williams said.
Those marching for change are still in the early stages of their trek, but every step gets them closer to the nation’s capital.
There will be one last walk in the area at Adams View Housing Park in Wapato at 9 a.m. on March 7.
A final meeting will be at the White Swan Community Center at noon, before they move on to the next reservation.
For more information on The Longest Walk.