By Carlos Padilla
A group of indigenous runners, representing many Native nations, are participating in the 2012 Peace and Dignity Journeys. You may have seen a group of these runners as they journeyed through Sierra County last week, running along Interstate 25. This group spent time in the home of Wayne and Kelly Sanders of Truth or Consequences, and included individuals from Alaska, Canada, Mexico, several Western states and areas throughout New Mexico – from Taos to Las Cruces.
Peace and Dignity Journeys are spiritual runs that embody the prophecy of the eagle and condor, which – according to literature obtained from the group of runners – “mandates that all indigenous peoples in the Western Hemisphere shall be reunited in a spiritual way in order to heal our nations so that we can work for a better future for our children and generations to come.”
Peace and Dignity Journeys began in 1992, and are held every four years, starting with indigenous runners at opposite ends of the Western Hemisphere. One group starts running from Chickaloon, Alaska, while another begins at Tierra Del Fuego, Argentina. The runners traverse the Western Hemisphere by foot and join together for a final gathering in Tikal, Guatemala. For six to seven months, they run through numerous indigenous communities, where locals witness and partake in the tradition of receiving runners with ceremonies unique to their community. Through this process, runners and participants share stories, song, dance and the wisdom that comes from community elders and ceremony.
This tradition was carried out at the Sanders’ residence. Participants prayed, sang, and all present received a blessing steeped in ceremony, including smudges of sage smoke and sacred waters from Alaska. The ceremonies also included blessings of feathers and many instruments. These respectful traditions are quite something for an outsider, like this writer, to behold.