A more than 100-mile walk along a Navajo Nation highway that sought to raise awareness of domestic violence and cases of missing and murdered women and girls has left organizers hoping the trek spurs more discussion.
The annual walk from Window Rock, Arizona, to Shiprock, New Mexico, this month was the ninth organized by a local father and son who aim to bring attention to social issues on the Navajo Nation through the event.
"We want the issue at the forefront," said John Tsosie, a co-founder with his father of Walking the Healing Path Inc., a 15-year-old organization founded to boost education within tribal communities about domestic violence. "The problem is growing with human trafficking and sex trafficking. It is here on the Navajo Nation, and no one is really talking about it."
He carried a sign during the walk with the message: "Remembering those that are missing."
The Farmington Daily Times reports that the walk began Oct. 13 at Veterans Memorial Park in Window Rock and ended Oct. 20 in Shiprock. And while the journey's focus centered on the high volume of cases in Indian Country overall, it was specifically dedicated to the memory of 11-year-old Ashlynne Mike, who was kidnapped and killed on the Navajo Nation in May 2016.
A day after she was taken from a road near her family's home in a small New Mexico community between Farmington and Shiprock, she was found dead south of the pinnacle for which the reservation town is named. Tom Begaye, a man from a nearby town, was sentenced last year to life in prison after pleading guilty to murder and aggravated sexual abuse in Ashlynne's death.
John Tsosie, one of the organizers of the walk along Navajo Route 13, said Gary Mike, Ashlynne's father, walked the entire route.
The girl's mother, Pamela Foster, was among the presenters who spoke at different events along the way.
Presenters in different communities on the route spoke about domestic violence, bullying, child safety and suicide prevention.