Tribal members are gearing up to run more than 1,700 miles from Oklahoma to California in a show of sovereignty. 

The so-called ‘Sovereignty Run’ will be led by Fawn Sharp, president of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and vice president of the Quinault Indian Nation. Sharp organized the first run 20 years ago to call attention to the erosion of tribal sovereignty on reservation lands, an issue she says persists today.

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This year’s run also coincides with the reinstatement of Jim Thorpe’s (Sac and Fox, Potawatomi) 1912 Olympic wins. 

"We are in a critical time where, once again, our sovereignty is being threatened, and Jim Thorpe's home state of Oklahoma is ground-zero," Sharp said in a statement. “Tribal Nations are strongest when we are unified and create our own 'bright path' forward together. The time to raise our voices—and collective awareness—is now. We are proud to dedicate this journey to fight for our sovereignty to the memory and legacy of Jim Thorpe, and we will carry Jim's strength, tenacity, and courage with us every step of the way.”

The Sovereignty Run will put feet on the ground in: Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. The run is set to finish in Sacramento, Calif., on Oct. 31— the day tribal leaders across the United States will convene to defend tribal sovereignty at NCAI’s 79th Annual Convention.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the Nation stands with NCAI in its mission. 

“In the past two years, the Five Tribes here in Oklahoma have been challenged on our treaty rights, rooted in law by those who are trying to chip away at tribes and our rights to self-govern,” Hoskin said in a statement. “We have taken to the U.S. Supreme Court steps twice and been reaffirmed that our reservations have always existed, and yet presented with more legal challenges. We look forward to this run and having our Native voices—and running shoes—carrying our message that our Tribal Nations are stronger today and that we will never waiver when it comes to our sovereignty.”

For more information about the Sovereignty Run, including a full schedule of events, visit www.sovereigntyrun.org.

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About The Author
Jenna Kunze
Author: Jenna KunzeEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a staff reporter covering Indian health, the environment and breaking news for Native News Online. She is also the publication's lead reporter on stories related to Indian boarding schools and repatriation. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Tribal Business News, Smithsonian Magazine, Elle and Anchorage Daily News. Kunze is based in New York.