There once lived an elderly woman known as “Peace Pilgrim.”
When she was in her 40s, she started walking across the United States to promote peace. The year was 1953. She continued walking for the next 28 years and traveled over 25,000 miles on foot. Her sole purpose was simply to promote peace by walking from place to place. She died in 1981, at the age of 72, on her way to give a speech about her peace walks.
Now, a 56-year old man named Brother North Star is picking up where Peace Pilgrim left off. Since 1990, he has walked over 15,000 miles worldwide on his self-led “I am America Medicine Walk.” Like Peace Pilgrim, he walks extended distances simply to promote peace. But in this new intense time of cars and gasoline, Brother North Star also wants to show Americans that they don’t have to be completely dependent on cars as a mode of transportation. They can walk too.
“We can be the first sustainable nation,” he said. “That’s the vision I hold.”
Brother North Star says he goes wherever the spirit brings him. Last week, the spirit brought him to Arcata, where he led a seven-mile peace march from the Bayside Grange into Old Town Eureka. About 15 people walked down the 101 South as the cars, trucks and semis drove by.
“The spirit moved me to Arcata,” he said as he walked along the 101 South on Thursday. He said he’s been to many communities over the years, and sometimes he feels supported by the places he goes to. Sometimes, not so much. But since he’s been in Arcata, he said, he has received an overwhelming feeling of love and support from the community. “Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve never felt the same energy,” he said. His long-term goal has been to build a temple of worship out of hemp, he said, and he’s decided that Humboldt County is the place.
A group of about 15 local supporters met at the Bayside Grange on Thursday morning to participate in Brother North Star’s “I am America Medicine Walk.” Most were people that heard of the event earlier that day and randomly decided to come along just to go for a walk.
“It’s about coming together collectively,” said Damien Campos, the local organizer of the peace walk. “There is no group without the individual, but no individual without the group.”
Before everyone began the journey down the 101, Brother North Star gave a speech about his purpose, which is based on the 10 key values of the Green Party. Some of these values include personal and global responsibility, grassroots democracy and a focus on sustainability. And choosing to walk instead of to drive supports these values, he said.
During his travels, Brother North Star also acts as an official representative for Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. He said he met her twice in Sacramento, and out of all the presidential candidates, “she is the one that has her finger on the pulse.” The Green Party helped him get up to Arcata last week, where he connected with a group of local artists who helped organize and publicize the peace march to Eureka.
Normally, Brother North Star doesn’t get a lot of media attention as he travels from place to place. He’s more incognito. But on Thursday, the Eureka Reporter, KHSU and the Journal were all present to cover a piece of Brother North Star’s journey. In addition, a documentary shot by local filmmaker and HSU student Richard Renteria will be broadcast on YouTube and Access Humboldt.
The walk along the 101 took three and a half hours, but by 3 p.m., Brother North Star and the other peace marchers made it to Eureka. By that time, everyone was parched and hungry but not overly drained. The end destination was PARC, the Peoples Action for Rights and Community Center in Old Town Eureka, where good food and water waited. Brother North Star said that the seven-mile trek “didn’t even put a dent in his energy.” That was only the beginning for him.