LETTER: Longest Walk 2 - Western route 'thank you'

First and foremost, I would like to say thank you to the people who have patiently waited for this letter, or even considered the thanks extended by Dennis Banks and the Longest Walk 2 gratifying enough.

Amid the final formalities of a dedicated, warm, and determined group of people departing our Dine lands and the controversies that have spread like wild fire across our Nation, I finally have the time to extend my thanks to several communities and organizations as well as clarify any misgivings.  It is no easy task to welcome or even guide an estimated 160 people across the largest reservation in the United States. My gratitude to each community, each grassroots group, and each individual is difficult to portray for each was unique and heartfelt in their own way.  

For the past two weeks (after I passed on the coordinating task to an amazing woman), I have found my task of thanking so many incredible people increasingly difficult. After all, so many donated their time, effort, and most importantly themselves in general to a monumental occasion. So as not to stir any more controversy or hurt feelings, I will give thanks in order of extension or memory.  Should I forget anyone, no one will feel more worse than my own self for the lack of mentioning.

Thank you to the communities and their officials of Leupp, Birdsprings, Dilcon, Indian Wells, Greasewood, Cornfields, and Ganado, who not only greeted and fed the Longest Walk 2 with open arms, but offered assistance and donations.  Most importantly these communities took the time to share their wisdom and admiration to the Longest Walk 2, your thoughts, words, and concerns will be carried to Washington, D.C. Thanks to the Dilcon and Window Rock Police departments who offered roadside assistance and helped the Longest Walk 2 remain accident free as they crossed our homeland; this thanks is also extended to the drivers traveling Navajo 15 who offered their patience.

Furthermore I would like to thank the following groups: Rocky Point (Northern drum group) who made our welcome tremendous; C-Aquifer for Dine for their support and the lunch they provided to the Longest Walk 2, as well as the welcoming horseback riders; Dine CARE who provided support, assistance, and lunch; To' Nizhoni Ani for speaking and joining in on the walk; Leupp Public School (FUSD); Morning Glory Café of Flagstaff; Dilcon Behavioral Health (Wilfred Shirley) who provided sweat lodges; the group Bad Boyz for their entertainment; and also the Ganado Diabetes Clinic who offered their gymnasium and dinner, as well as played a mean volleyball game.  Also, thanks to Winslow Bashas and Winslow Safeway for their donations.

Thanks to all the families who helped and for those countless others.

Last but not least, I would like to say thanks to my cousin Calvin Johnson, Anna Frazier of Dine CARE, and Anna Rondon (the LW2 AZ/NM Organizer) who went above and beyond to help me.  You are proof that good friends and mentors are hard to find, but I am fortunate to count you as mine.

In my final thanks I would like to express my love to my mother (Ellen Branch), daughters (Aurora and Charlize), cousin (Jerome Store), and partner (Barrett) who had the love and patience to allow me to devote myself entirely to this project.

Finally a big thanks to the Longest Walk 2 and Dennis Banks who traveled through Dinetah with respect, patience, and open minds with their objective pinned so clearly to their heart, thoughts, and words.  Also, another thanks to the Longest Walk 2 for the beauty in which they walked, it was expressed by their persistence, dedication, and the endless amount of trash they picked up.

Guadalupe Branch

Leupp

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