Published October 4, 2019
SEATTLE — On Saturday, October 5, Seattle Indian Health Board (SIHB) is hosting its 24th annual SpiritWalk event—a walk/run to raise money and awareness for Native health. The event will start and finish at Daybreak Star Cultural Center, and the course will take walkers and runners through Discovery Park.
SIHB will be honoring missing and murdered indigenous women and girls (MMIWG) at this year’s event, and people attending the event will have access to resources from SIHB and its research division, Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI).
This year’s event will feature special guest speakers Billy Mills and Patsy Whitefoot.
Mills is an Olympic gold medalist and national spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth. He is Oglala Lakota (Sioux) and has dedicated his life to serving American Indian and Alaska Native communities. He will be speaking to youth at 10:30 a.m., prior to check-in for the walk/run.
Whitefoot is Yakama and Diné and has been a leading voice in bringing attention to the MMIWG crisis in Washington, as well as nationally. She is a retired educator after 47 years of managing and teaching in Indian education. Whitefoot will be singing a song in honor of missing and murdered Native women and girls at 2:00 p.m., after the walk/run.
Abigail Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), Chief Research Officer of SIHB and Director of UIHI, will be the event’s emcee, and she will also be speaking about the organization’s recent MMIWG work and the importance of raising awareness and holding government agencies accountability.
Echo-Hawk is the co-author of two groundbreaking MMIWG reports. On September 20, 2019, UIHI published a report titled MMIWG: We Demand More in response to Washington State Patrol’s MMIWG mandated study released on June 1, 2019. Echo-Hawk has been vocal in sharing her disappointment toward.
In November 2018, UIHI published a report titled Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Girls that provided a snapshot of the crisis in 71 urban cities across the country and brought attention to challenges in collecting data.
For more details about SpiritWalk and registration, go to www.sihb.org/spiritwalk.
- 10:30 a.m. – Billy Mills to speak to youth about his journey
- 11:00 a.m. – Check-in for walkers and runners
- 11:30 a.m. – Start of walk and run
- 1:30 p.m. – Announcements and Awards (Esther/Abigail)
- 2:00 p.m. – Patsy Whitefoot to sing song in honor of MMIWG; closing
This year’s main sponsors are Sealaska and Amerigroup. Sealaska is an Alaska Native Corporation that works to strengthen Tlingit, Haida, and Tsimshian communities in Southeast Alaska. Amerigroup is a health insurance provider that looks to improve health care access and quality for its members.