Canku Ota - A Newsletter Celebrating Native America
July 15, 2000 - Issue 14

The Long Walk
by Patricia Phillips of 7 a.m

While many Americans are spending the July 4 holiday barbecuing and frolicking, a determined band of activists is moving through the first steps of a two-month, 1,200-mile walk around Lake Superior.

The "Walk to Remember," led by Anishinaabe (Ojibwe)Native Americans, points out the need to protect Lake Superior, the largest freshwater lake in the world and source of drinking water and food for tens of thousands of people, organizers said. The unusual event also honors the memory of famed Native American activist Walt Bresette, who came up with the idea and a proposed piece of legislation that, if adopted, could change American environmental protections for generations to come.

Called the "the Seventh Generation Amendment to the U.S. Constitution," Bresette's far-reaching legislative proposal states: "The right of citizens of the United States to use and enjoy air, water, wildlife, and other renewable resources determined by the Congress to be common property shall not be impaired, nor shall such use impair their availability for the use of future generations."

The unique political proposal is named for Native American concepts that all actions affect seven generations forward, said Frank Koehn, one of the walk's organizers. The idea behind the historic undertaking is to point out the destructive effects of long-term pollution, while simultaneously championing the need to safeguard Lake Superior's vital resources.

The effort to protect the lake from mining, the sale of water overseas, and other actions that would deplete the vital waterway and its aquatic life is something that reaches far beyond the many Indian reservations near Lake Superior, said Esther Nahgahnub, a grandmother from the Fond du Lac Ojibwe Reservation.

" We need all the people around the lake to band together as citizens of Lake Superior," she declared.

The arduous walk grew out of meetings between various community groups and individuals concerned about Lake Superior's future in an era when much of the entire Great Lakes system has become dangerously polluted and, in some cases, unsafe for human use.

The walk, which will loop around Lake Superior into Canada, and return in a circle to its starting point near Odanah, Wisconsin is planned to end August 26, just in time for Labor Day, the next major American holiday.

Photos: The beginning of the long walk, Walt Bresette

Lake Walk
The Spirit Lives On



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