Native youth group bikes 200 miles
on the Trail of the Ancients
Mexico: Cycles of Life is a nonprofit
that helps Native American
teens learn about their heritage.
"The thing that connects it all
together is cycles," said Jake
Foreman, Cycles of Life's creator
and a member of the Absentee Shawnee
tribe of Oklahoma.
"That's the way everything is, from
planting seeds to being on a
bicycle—which is turning a wheel."
Since early June, students trained
at local gyms for long days of
riding. They also learned how
to build and fix their own bikes.
In late July, Jake and his sister,
Lisa, led the teens from
along the Trail of the Ancients.
Their 12-day journey covered 200
miles from the Zuni Pueblo to Taos
Pueblo under a blazing hot sun.
The Trail of Ancients is an indigenous
byway linking Southwest communities.
was also used by Spanish
conquistador Francisco Vásquez de
Coronado in his search for the
Cities of Gold. Foreman says riding along the path
is a step toward healing historical
"We're retracing that route on
bicycle and learning from spiritual
leaders at every stop," he says.
Cycles of Life is a program with
Trips for Kids, a national organization for disadvantaged
and troubled youth. It uses
biking, gardening, and artwork to
help improve the physical and
spiritual health of indigenous
Bicycles are the giver of movement,
Foreman says, and gardens improve
physical health, while art benefits
year's teen cyclists are students
Native American Community
Academy. Foreman says they are
battling generations of poverty
oppression, and need tools to pursue
exercise and healthy
"The solution is growing and
planting our own food again," he
says. "And there's the health
aspect of course. When it comes to
Native Americans, we have high rates
of diabetes and diet-related
Foreman hopes that by returning
to local indigenous
diets and non-monetary based
currencies, communities can
strengthen their bonds and thrive.
"This is us not waiting to see
what'll happen," he said. " It's us being
proactive about it and saying, 'Yes,
this is the path that we're
choosing.' We're connecting back to
the land. We're connecting back to
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