07 May Walking to Protect Gold Butte: A Family Tradition
By Sol Martinez
On April 23, my mother Fawn helped organize an 11-mile culture walk in Gold Butte to celebrate Earth Day, and raise awareness of the need to protect this amazing area.
I woke up that morning only expecting to help cook. I had volunteered with my friend Chad who was preparing Indian tacos for the event. After making the frybread dough, meat, and vegetables, we left Las Vegas to make the 80-mile drive to the area where people were going to be gathering at the end of the walk. After getting off the I-15 and driving several miles into Gold Butte, I saw my mom walking, carrying the flag of our Las Vegas Paiute Tribe. She had been carrying the flag for several hours over almost 9 miles. I could tell the flag was weighing heavy on her shoulders, and I wanted to help.
It was neat to be able to take the responsibility of holding the flag of my tribe. I walked the last two miles alongside my mother while carrying our flag.
After crossing the finish line, I rushed over to the frybread station to help prepare lunch for the walkers and attendees. It was especially nice to cook for the people who did the entire 11-mile walk; they deserved a reward for participating in this important event.
While we were serving food to the attendees, traditional singers from the Chemehuevi Tribe started to perform. I spotted my grandmother getting up to dance to the music. Soon my mother and several other elders were up and doing traditional dances to the music.
Our ancestors also danced and sang in Gold Butte.
Even though I was too busy serving food to dance myself, my mother has taught me those dances, too. Gold Butte was once home to the Paiute people, and it has lots of cultural artifacts, petroglyphs, and sacred areas.
This event was important because it got people walking out in nature, and away from the city. Being able to see the petroglyphs and learning what we can do to protect our culture is crucial. Just like my mother and grandmother taught me, I hope to be able to help educate the next generation of our Southern Paiute people these traditions of our culture.
Just like with our songs and dances, we need to protect Gold Butte to help pass this unique part of our culture on to the next generation.