FEBRUARY 11, 1996

ARAPAHO ACTIVIST VIOLA HATCH LEADS CROSS-COUNTRY WALK

On this date, Viola Hatch (shown in 1970 photo) helped commence the “Women’s Healing Walk for Family and Mother Earth” starting in Los Angeles, California and destined to end in St. Augustine, Florida.  The 5-month walk ended on July 11, 1996.  It was made in remembrance of the Indian prisoners that were incarcerated at Fort Marion Prison in Florida.  Between 1875 and 1878, 72 Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Caddo and Arapaho leaders and their families were interned in the prison and by the 1880s they were joined by hundreds of Apaches as prisoners of war. Two years after George Armstrong Custer’s defeat at the Battle of Little Bighorn, the first prisoners were finally allowed to leave.  The walk was the first such commemoration of the native prisoners by Indian people and also focused on cleansing rites to protest nuclear dumping and desecration of burial mounds and other sacred sites. The closing ceremony at the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming featured the Arapaho Sundance.

Sources:  Gretchen M. Bataille (editor); Lisa Laurie (editor) (2001). Native American women: a biographical dictionary (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge. pp. 132–133.  Retrieved 12/16/2019, Native American Women: A Biographical Dictionary - Google Books
Photo:  Denver Public Library, 3/1970.  National Indian Youth Council demonstrations at Denver BIA office.  Courtesy of Denver Public Library.

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