Bobby Wallace, leader of AIM's The Longest Walk 5.3, addressed Colville Business Council's Community and Economic Development Committee, Tuesday in Nespelem. To his right is Colville tribal member Earth Feather Sovereign.

CBC responds with pledge to help support Washington bill aimed at studying domestic violence against tribal women

Nespelem – Before he passed away, American Indian Movement co-founder Dennis Banks declared a mission for his final walk across the country – a three-year journey to bring attention to drug-related deaths and domestic violence in Indian Country.

The journey dubbed the Longest Walk 5, and which is in its final year, is one of a series of walks Banks had organized since 1978 to bring attention to issues facing Indian Country such as health, environmental concerns, diabetes and suicide.

In its final leg, the Longest Walk 5.3 reached the Colville Reservation this week, coming from the Yakama Nation.

The group met with the Colville Business Council to ask for support from the tribal leaders through a resolution, Tuesday.

“Nothing is more powerful than a sovereign nation within a nation with this kind of power,” said walk leader Bobby Wallace.

Wallace also presented CBC Community and Economic Development Chair Edwin Marchand with a gift of tobacco.

He further explained to the committee as the group has traveled through tribal communities they have been collecting data on domestic violence and drug abuse with the intention of presenting that data to Congress in 2020 in an effort to lobby for Indian Country funding.

“We know as we travel and gather, travel and gather, we know the drug people are going to do things they’ve always done, but the vision of the late-Mr. Dennis Banks was to travel through communities and gather data,” said Wallace. “We know we’re in a monster drug storm and we’ve seen it all.”

Wallace was joined by Jeremiah Jones and Chief Harry Kindness, as well as Colville tribal members Dan Nanamkin, Earth Feather Sovereign and Dominique “Niki” Zacherle-Haste in Chambers.

Tribal leaders members from around the CBC table offered their support for the group’s effort. For a $2,000 financial donation, CBC staff encouraged the group to work through the tribal donation committee.

In response to the call of support, CBC staff read a joint recommendation from Health and Human Services, Law and Justice and CED committees in support of Washington HB-2195, which orders a study to determine how to increase reporting and investigation of missing Native American women.

The recommendation reads: “As HB 2951, regarding the problem of missing and murdered indigenous women in Washington, is on Governor Jay Inslee's desk for signature, it is the position of the Colville Business Council to support and help implement this bill.  The CBC supports the delegation of Councilman Joel Boyd to work with the governor's Office of Indian Affairs regarding future meetings with tribal and local law enforcement partners, federally recognized tribes and urban Indian organizations to determine the scope of this problem, identify barriers and find ways to create partnerships to increase reporting and investigation of missing Native American women. Councilmember Boyd is additionally delegated to participate in an anticipated Washington State Patrol Study to determine how to increase reporting and investigation of missing Native American women. Chairman or designee to sign all pertinent documents.”

Sovereign, representing MMIW Washington State, testified in support of the bill in front of the Senate State Government, Tribal Relations and Elections Committee, Feb. 16.

“Once we help our most oppressed, which statistically is our Native American women, heal and rise, we all will heal and rise,” said Sovereign in testifying in Olympia. “Our Native American women deserve to be safe and feel safe. We want to believe we matter, just as all women matter.”

Following the meeting with CBC, the group held an assembly at the Paschal Sherman Indian School. From the Colville Reservation, the group traveled to the Spokane Reservation.

The walk is scheduled to end at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C., July 14, where leaders plan to honor Banks.

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