Greeting and Honoring the Native American Runners: Alaska-to-Panama

July 6, 2016

The local friends of the environmental and Native American traditions played host to a group of Native American activists who were drawing awareness to the ongoing dangers to Earth, and to Earth-friendly cultures today. These relay runners, including members of Tarahumara, Anishinaabe, and other traditions. I volunteered to be part of the ceremony meeting them at the community gardens on Raymond St. I gave a short greeting and welcome, representing the Climate Change Action effort at Cabrillo College through my course, Astro 7, and also representing the Santa Cruz Track Club, and to help honor their work raising awareness of efforts such as the Pachamama Movement, which could be important in helping give legal status to Nature and to future generations in Latin America, as an aspect of climate justice. Also, to run with them for a mile after their departure onward to Aptos, where they would spend the night. They began the day in San Jose, ran to Santa Cruz by 4:30pm, then on to Aptos where they would spend the night. The following night they would be at Indian Canyon south of Hollister. One of the members was also a former student of mine, and their local guide and leader for this Santa Cruz part of their run, and a veteran of the 2008 run - he ran with them from the Canadian border all the way to Panama that year. Now, he has a family and kids and could only act as local host and to lead their run through our city..

"Every four years since 1992, Peace and Dignity Journeys runners traverse the Western Hemisphere by foot, carrying stories, songs and prayers, re-uniting Indigenous communities step by step. Departing simultaneously from Chickaloon, Alaska and Tierra del Fuego, Argentina, the journey culminates 7 months later with a final ceremony in Panama. The run is a prayer in motion, a pilgrimage for the Earth, calling back ancestral memories of who we are. The 2016 journey is dedicated to seeds: the sacred medicines and foods that sustain cultures and communities—under threat now more than ever due to genetic modification, corporate ownership, and climate change. "Food sovereignty is an affirmation of who we are as indigenous peoples and a way, one of the most surefooted ways, to restore our relationship with the world around us." —Winona LaDuke, Anishinaabe "Through this run, we help ensure, not only the survival, but the perseverance and the growth of our future generations, in a traditional way." —Jose Malvido, Yoeme, Tohono O'Odham / North America Peace & Dignity Journeys coordinator For more information: "


The gardens are full of fruit trees and all manner of vegetables, a gathering place and teaching place for urban farming, mainly for the Beach Flat community

The runners, with a few locals joining in this segment, crossing the bridge over the San Lorenzo River just before arriving at the Gardens

A Native American speaker. Left is Dru Glover, a former student of mine and leader of the Social Justice movement and Project Pollinate here in Santa Cruz

The ceremony of the seeds

Each runner carries a traditional staff representing different tribes along the route

Center; from a Sonoran Desert ocatillo, circled by a mummified snake. Right, from the Vancouver tribes

Emilio and other locals prepare to lead the first block of the runners resumption

Onward, to Aptos

It was an honor for me to be part of these ceremonies, and poignant to think of the hardships we've visited upon the Native Americans for generations now. Now, the hardships are visited upon ourselves as well, and even sadder, on all future generations as we alter the very livability of our planet, with little regard and only token notice, except for a precious few.