Levi Rickert, editor-in-chief in Native Challenges. Discussion »
VALLEJO, CALIFORNIA - The 33rd Annual 500 Mile American Indian Spiritual Marathon ended this year's run at Sogorea Te, commonly known as Glen Cove. Sogorea Te is sacred burial site, located 25 miles from San Francisco, where American Indians have been holding a spiritual encampment since April 14.
A 500 Mile Messenger
The marathon had begun with ceremonies on a week ago Sunday, June 19, in the Pit River territory. On Thursday morning, the runners departed from Clear Lake, bound for Vallejo, California. Marathon organizers purposely chose to end at Sogorea Te to lend their support to the American Indians who are there protesting the erection of two toilets and a parking lot at the sacred burial site.
A dozen participants in the prayer vigil at Sogorea Te joined the runners for the final leg of the marathon, which was led by Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo, Miwok, one of the original 1978 500-mile runners.
Runners Approach Sogorea Te
As the procession of runners swiftly approached Sogorea Te, two long lines of supporters welcomed them, creating a tunnel with their arms that they passed through before circling around the sacred fire and placing prayer offerings upon it.
John Malloy, coordinator of the Marathon, warmly addressed the circle of about 150 people, thanking and honoring all of the runners, elders, children and supporters who together made the run possible. He explained that the runners had been training together for much of the past year, and that it has been an honor to work with such a dedicated group of people.
Malloy then called people forward to honor them and ask them to share some words. First, he asked the half-dozen Pit River runners to step forward, and Nathan Potts (Madesi Band, Pit River), Warren Quinn (Atwamsini Band, Pit River) and Santana Sanchez (Achumawi Band, Pit River) addressed the group, sharing some of what the run means to them. Other speakers in the circle who shared stories, reflections and thanks included Carlos Castro, Pablo Diego Viramontes (Nha Nhu-Otomi), Allan Yeager of the Jericho Project, Morning Star Gali (Achumawi Band, Pit River), and Wounded Knee.
Singers from the ongoing prayer vigil at Sogorea Te then picked up their clapper sticks and shared a series of Rumsen Ohlone songs. Afterwards, the runners were asked to line up, and Fred Short (Ojibwa) and Connie Short presented each of them with a special certificate.
As the sun set and runners bid one another farewell, the sound of the drum and many voices singing the "Sogorea Te" song echoed across the land.
posted June 27, 2011 7:00 am et
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