We drove down to the opening ceremony at a Seneca Longhouse in Steamburg, near Salamanca, NY. We met the peacewalkers who were there for the start of the walk and joined in the ceremony. There were walkers from Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and California in the group. Seven walkers came from Japan and one man from France. I didn't get to meet all the walkers yet; other geographical locations may be represented here. They would be weaving through Upstate NY and eventually end up in at the United Nations in NYC for a rally on May 2.
The purpose of the walk is to call attention to the 2010 NPT Review Conference that begins on May 3rd at the UN. The hope is to increase support and public opinion to abolish nuclear weapons.
The Senecas requested that the walk start in their communities rather than Buffalo. Native people have been victims on both ends of the US nuclear chain. The uranium mines on their lands have exposed them to hazardous waste. On the other end of the chain the leaking and dumping of radioactive waste and the testing of nuclear weapons often takes place on their land. The walk will visit Six Nations of the Native American territories in New York State.
The walk will visit the West Valley Nuclear Waste Site, 30 miles south of Buffalo, where the leaking storage threatens the Seneca's (and all of our) water supply. NY State will be deciding whether to clean up the entire site or wait 10 years and then make a decision. This decision should come this month. People are urged to contact their elected officals and demand they support the complete cleanup.
We could feel the connection between the Senecas and the Japanese, both of whom have been victims of US nuclear policies.
See the map and stops along the walk.
Tim Bullock from the New England Peace Pagoda gave a detailed explanation of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty) review process. (I will put up a link to it later)
Dianne D'Arrigo presented an excellent history of the West Valley site (and I will post a link to her presentation here).