Native Village  Youth and Education news
February 2010 Volume 2

Students run to remember
By Jodi Rave
http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/home/content/82379557.html
Condensed by Native Village

Montana:  After a five-day journey through four states, youth runners from the Northern Cheyenne Reservation in Montana completed a 400-mile journey. They ran to honor their ancestors who escaped from a military fort in Nebraska in January 1879.

In all, 97 runners joined the Fort Robinson Outbreak Spiritual Run.  Most were grade school and high school students who ran through Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana. Many runners and supporters shared stories about how the run changed their life.

“This was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect except what I heard from my grandchildren on previous runs,” said Alaina Buffalo Spirit, whose granddaughter and grandson joined the run. “It was very emotional hearing the horrific events that happened to our ancestors. I was moved to tears when I heard Jenny Parker tell the story of her grandmother who ran into the night with a baby. When she went to take the baby off her back, the baby’s head had been blown off.”

The Fort Robinson Run started 14 years ago as a run around the reservation. Eleven years ago, it expanded to honor Cheyenne relatives forcibly removed from Montana to Oklahoma after Custer's defeat at the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.

While in Indian Territory, more than half the Northern Cheyenne died from sickness and heat. In September, 1879, 300 people left Oklahoma for home.

 “In the middle of the night, the military societies said enough is enough and they walked away,” said Phillip Whiteman, an event organizer.

Before they made it home, Dull Knife’s band was captured and imprisoned at Fort Robinson. The Army starved them for refusing to return to Oklahoma. On Jan. 9, 1879, the group broke out of the fort’s log barracks, choosing death over starvation and imprisonment.

Today, many American Indians are still recovering from historical traumas and changes in their traditional way of life.

“After four generations, I feel hope,” Whiteman said. “That’s what inspires us to fight this battle of ongoing extermination of our people. At the same time, I see the faces of the young people who have so much pride. Doing something like this takes a lot of hard work. You have to have a lot of passion to overcome negativity. That’s what those original warriors had to face. They faced overwhelming odds that didn’t discourage them from breaking out.”

The five-day journey is about more than running. All along the way, runners participate in prayers and ceremonies. Leaders are invited to talk with young people about how to be better human beings. Speaker Gerard Baker from Mount Rushmore National Park was one.

“He inspired us to look in the mirror and say, ‘I am a warrior,’” said BreeAnna Little Coyote, 13. “He made me want to cry, he was so inspiring. He told us we were all brothers and sisters.”

Little Coyote and Roshandra Little Cherries, 13, were among those youth convinced their warrior relatives of Fort Robinson joined them on the run.

One of Little Coyote’s friends, said, “’BreeAnna. BreeAnna, can you hear that? Just listen.’ And I could hear old people singing way out there while we were running. It was awesome. When we were finished they stopped. You could hear a drum, too. It was really loud but way out there.”

After the song, the girls also heard the women’s honor cry. “There was ‘luluing,’” said Little Coyote.

 

 

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