THE EVERGLADES — “Time to warrior up!” Betty Osceola of the Miccosukee Tribe is calling on all who care about the Everglades to protest the recent federal decision to allow the State of Florida to take over administration of parts of the Clean Water Act. The change gives the state the authority to issue dredge and fill permits previously issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
The Environmental Protection Agency will hand over permit authority in the Big Cypress National Preserve and Everglades National Park to the State of Florida, she explained. “Also in doing this, EPA is allowing the definition of Indian territory/country to be redefined over the objections of the Indian tribes here in Florida and abroad, in essence undermining tribal sovereignty and diminishing the size of tribal lands.”
“The indigenous people defend these lands of Mother Earth. We are her last barriers to unfettered development, her last line of warriors,” Osceola stated.
Osceola is marshaling a band of prayer warriors to walk in silent meditation across the Everglades to bring attention to the cause.
The walk is planned for Jan. 2 and 3.
On Jan. 2, the group will meet up at the East Entrance of Loop Road. The Miccosukee Tribe keeps a security checkpoint there. The walkers will trek to Monroe Station historic area.
On Jan. 2, the group will leave their camping site near Monroe Station, then head toward the Carnestown Town intersection (U.S.41 and U.S. 29).
The walkers will cover 36 miles in two days. They will take rest breaks approximately every 5 miles.
The walk will be in silence, she explained. “This is to focus your mind on the natural world in order to listen to the story she is imparting, to connect with spirit.
“The breaks and stops is when we can talk and share our thoughts with each other.
“This walk is to defend the sacred but to do so we must also connect with our spirituality for guidance from the Creator,” she added.
Walkers will carry all of their own food, water and camping supplies. They will also be asked to maintain social distance and to bring a face mask.
Those who are not up to the trek are encouraged to support the group as “keyboard warriors” helping to spread the message on social media.
For more on the walk, see Betty Osceola’s page on Facebook.
Osceola is also encouraging all to post their own photos on social media with #defendthesacred. She asks that posters hold signs indicating how far they are from the Everglades.