Not having participated on a multi-day walk, I wasn’t aware of how much work and planning was involved. The organizing partners are listed at the end of this post. My impression (and I apologize if I left anyone out) was the main people involved were Ed Fallon, Kathy Byrnes and Shari Hrdina, Bold Iowa, Christine Nobiss, Indigenous Iowa, Seeding Sovereignty and Donnielle Wanatee. Sarah Spain was the logistics organizer and was always busy keeping everything organized and moving smoothly.
Fintan Mason created the logo for the March, and the video about this year’s march.
We benefited from the presence of Manape Lamere, Alton Onefeather, and Lakasha Yooxot Likipt in many ways. They provided safety and security during the entire walk. They were often asking each of us how we were doing as we walked, and good at offering encouragement. Manape also sang several times, and spoke to us during our last evening gathering around the bonfire.
Trisha Entringer lead a discussion about decolonization that last evening.
Another person who stepped up to help in a big way was Samantha Kuhn. Sam volunteered to drive the sag wagon at first, and continued to do so for the rest of the March. The sag wagon carried extra equipment such as backpacks that marchers might need along the route but didn’t want to carry on their backs. This was really useful for me, allowing me to have Sam carry my laptop in her car, so that I had easy access to it for processing photos and writing blog posts. Sam also played a major role by finding alternative places for rest stops, and for us to spend the night when the places we had planned to use were flooded by the intense rainfalls we experienced during the March.
Before the March began, shelves had to be built in the rented equipment truck to carry our gear (tents, sleeping bags, etc). Unfortunately about midway through the walk those shelves collapsed. But they were rebuilt and ready for us by the end of that day. The steps up into the truck also had to be built. The gear truck also contained two large containers of drinking water.
The portable solar panel array and batteries accompanied us to supply electricity wherever we camped which was greatly appreciated. There were a lot of cell phones and some laptops in use during the March, with many of us sharing what was happening on the March via social media and blog posts. A media room was setup for us at the Boone Country Fairground stop.
We all appreciated the portable compost toilet and solar shower shed that was parked at every rest stop along the way. Here are the instructions for using the toilet:
At our last stop the collected compost was buried in a trench in the ground.
One of the most appreciated parts of the March was the absolutely wonderful food prepared by Lyssa Wade, https://www.veggiethumper.com/. Her great food went a long way to sustaining us during the hours of marching. Lyssa was up hours before us, preparing breakfast. Lyssa writes:
Why I’m marching: I’m providing the food for this march because conscious cuisine is central to moving beyond the climate crisis and getting people to question what’s in their food and where it comes from.
About me: I run a food bus/truck called “Veggie Thumper.” I raise consciousness through food awareness by providing access to high-quality vegan and vegetarian cuisine. I’m an avid gardener and love to hula-hoop in the backyard in the middle of the night.
Another person who was a great resource was Miriam Kashia, who took care of all our foot blisters. I appreciated her help with a blister I developed. Miriam has a lot of walking experience, having walked 3,000 miles across the United States in 2014 on the Great March for Climate Action, which was also organized by Ed Fallon. Miriam and I walked 12 miles from Scattergood Friends School and Farm to Iowa City in 2013, as part of a climate conference held by Iowa Yearly Meeting (Conservative).
The daily burning of sage and smudging was appreciated.
We were also really grateful for the farmers and churches along the way that provided places to spend the night. And for those who came to speak with us each evening, including my Scattergood School roommate, Lee Tesdell.
At least three times the tipi was put up. This was a visual symbol of the presence of Native Americans and helped promote the concept of the First Nation-Farmer Climate Unity March.