Sacred peace walk holds vigil at the most bombed place on earth

By Rebecca Antsis
Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS — White painted chalk crisply split the ground; on one side of the line, peace activists sang, chanted, wailed, beat drums and stared at a half-dozen guards at the Nevada National Security Site, which was formerly Shoshone land.

On April 21, Prescott College Ecology of War & Peace students and their professor, Randall Amster, joined a company of activists, Veterans for Peace, Shoshone natives and Buddhist monks for the 2011 Sacred Peace Walk.

For the twenty-eighth year, the Nevada Desert Experience (NDE), a non-violent, interfaith organization, led a 10-day, 62-mile pilgrimage that spanned the state from the streets of Las Vegas to the cratered Shoshone desert.

The walk began in Las Vegas with an interfaith forum on nuclear disarmament. By Day Six, protesters had walked more than 50 miles to reach Creech Air Force Base (formerly known as Indian Springs).

The peace activists protested the use of drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles, utilized by the U.S. military in the War on Terror. With prayer, verbal warning and vocal performance, they held vigil for victims of genocide.

Environmental justice student Claire Frank commented, “I felt it was really pertinent [to protest] Creech Air Force Base in light of the fact that 25 people were killed by drone attacks on the Afghan-Pakistani border yesterday, and it was ordered from here.”

On Day Seven, participants walked an additional 15 miles from Creech Air Force to reclaim land promised by the U.S. government to the Shoshone people, via the 1863 Ruby Valley Treaty.

Today, Shoshone land is the most bombed place on earth. The U.S. government broke their end of the treaty and created a nuclear testing sight on a portion of the land, now called The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).

Since bombing began in the early 1950s, Shoshone cancer rates have skyrocketed. Radiation from the site has been traced from Utah to California, but the people most virulently effected are the Shoshone. Yucca Mountain, considered a sacred place, has been so contaminated by the explosions that the Shoshone can no longer gather traditional herbs.

On Day Eight, a somber procession of drums, guitar and tambourine led people through the last mile to the test site.

For many protesters, the Sacred Peace Walk and protests are spiritual. Cody Meyocks, 22, who spent his childhood in the Las Vegas area, explained his presence at the testing site. “My spiritual and political beliefs are one and the same. I believe that all the artificial things that man has manifested are causing the illness of earth.”

Johnnie Bobb, Shoshone Spiritual Leader, facilitator of the daily sunrise ceremonies and designated speaker at NNSS, spoke of the recent nuclear horrors that the Japanese have been experiencing. Many similarities, he said, are felt by his people, the Western Shoshone. “You took our land. Even if you give it back, we cannot use it. It is destroyed.”

As the sun inched closer to the earth on the final night and the food had been blessed by Johnnie Bobb, the group settled in for rest. The few clouds in the desert sky became back-lit in crimson and rose, bleeding like watercolors into the soft blue of early night.

Franke, preparing to sleep under the stars after the half week’s pilgrimage, observed the surrounding landscape. To her left, turning west, she said, “It looks so beautiful on one side. …” Turning right, to face the dull brown-yellow light pollution of Vegas, she said, “and like Armageddon on the other.”

Help support the Shoshone and stop U.S. violation of the Ruby Valley treaty and crimes against the earth on Shoshone land. Visit to participate in next year’s Sacred Peace Walk. Tax Deductible Donations can be payable to: Corporation Of Newe Sogobi, HC 30, Box 272, Spring Creek, Nevada, USA 89815.

This article appeared in the May 2011 print edition of The Raven Review.

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