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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 30, 2002 - Issue 75


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Native American Youth Walks for the Vietnam Wall

by Sandra Waugaman The Progress-Index
Sherelle WalkerWhen Sherelle Walker finished her moving sign language interpretation of the song "Great Spirit Keep Us Free" at the recent Six Nation's Veteran's Day Pow Wow at the Upper Mattaponi Tribal Grounds, the audience responded with applause, cheers, Indian yells, and a few tears. The pow wow in King William was just one stop on this 18-year-old Navajo woman's long walk across the country to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and honor war veterans. She calls her journey the "Youth Walk for the Wall."

Her goal is to bring awareness to the sacrifices that our veterans make and to thank them for the blanket of freedom they have provided us. Sherelle says, "I want to thank all the veterans, law enforcement and military personnel for your service. It is greatly appreciated and as a youth, I will do my best to honor our service men. I will try to make you proud."

Sherelle got the idea for a walk to honor veterans two years ago, but when the tragedy of September 11 happened, she decided to include those touched by the New York City and Pennsylvania disasters.

Her family lives in Gallup, New Mexico on the Red Rock Reservation, but she traveled to California to begin her walk there with the intention of walking from one ocean to the other. She left San Pedro, California on July 1, and since then has been walking across the United States carrying a large MIA/POW flag. Her mother Nicole Walker walks with her carrying the American flag. As her mother says, "It's dangerous out there. I'm not going to let my daughter walk by herself, I'm going to be right by her side."

Kenneth Brown, Sherelle's father, follows in a van that they sometimes sleep in. When they visit pow wows or events, he does face painting to help raise money for their trip. They also sell posters, tee shirts and support pins. the pins are hand made by Sherelle and her mother, and incorporate the American flag in the design.

Sherelle's brothers are among those currently serving in the military. One recently returned from an Army posting to Korea, and the other has just completed eight years as a Marine and signed up for the reserves. She wants to join the Army herself, but before she does that, she will finish her walk at Ground Zero in New York City.

This month, she visited Virginia Beach to complete her goal of walking to the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, she made stops in Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina and Washington, D.C., where she visited veterans hospitals and schools. During her trip, she has been collecting signatures of those who wish to honor a veteran. In Washington, she placed some of the signatures at the foot of the Vietnam Wall and participated in a Veteran's Day Memorial Ceremony there.

Veterans she has met along the way have given Sherelle pins to add to her sash that proclaims her Miss Young Golden Eagle 911 Princess. She belong to the Young Golden Eagle Warrior Society, an organization started by Navajo Indians, Corporal Jason Earle Charles and PFC Gary R. Ben to honor all the young veterans of today.

She plans to end her journey Nov. 25, in New York City, when she presents her album of signatures to the Smithsonian Museum.

Gallup, NM Map
Maps by Travel

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