Keeping the tradition alive
Published January 10, 2016
SAN JOSE – Fred Short, AIM spiritual leader, John Malloy, 500-mile spiritual run organizer and Norman ‘Wounded Knee’ DeOcampo, a long-runner and AIM spiritual warrior, are keeping a tradition alive.
On Saturday, John Malloy and Wounded Knee were doing just that when they were at the 500-mile run training at Windy Hill Park, just outside of San Jose. Though the routes and the participants have changed since it began in 1978, the spirit of the run has remained the same.
Organized by co founder of the American Indian Movement, Dennis Banks in 1978 in order to call attention to 11 bills pending in Congress that were detrimental to native people. One bill that stood out was HR 9054-(Congressman Cunningham from Washington). This bill asked the president and congress to abrogate or terminate all Indian treaties. *
Spiritual runs follow the tradition of early Native American runners who were messengers. This 500-mile team is a multicultural group of individuals dedicated to preserving the tradition of spiritual running. Their principal message is “All Life is Sacred!”
The runners train together in different locations once a month. In June, the runners will run across California in the annual 500- Mile Spiritual Marathon. It’s a non-competitive relay where teams of runners participate in a running prayer by carrying a sacred staff. Runners will often pray for those who are sick or in prison. They also pray for the preservation of sacred Native American sites and Mother Earth. At the end of each day, the teams gather in a circle to drum, sing songs, participate in a ceremony and share stories.
The emphasis in the event is spirit, not only the participant’s running ability. Men and women runners from many cultures and of different ages run together in prayer. There are also non-running team members who support the runners by driving vehicles, preparing meals and setting up camp.
* At the same time the 1978 run was happening in California, The Longest Walk was entering Washington DC. There were legal issues that did not allow Dennis Banks to leave California, so he started the sacred run in California to be in tandem and add to the effect of the longest walk. The Longest Walk 5 – War on Drugs will leave California on February 13, 2016. The 2016 walk will bring much needed attention to sacred sights, mascot issues, domestic violence, drugs and other issues harmful to indigenous people.