Robinson Breakout Spiritual Run
Honors Cheyenne History
Condensed by Native Village
South Dakota: The
young Northern Cheyennes woke
before dawn to run in subzero
temperatures in the Black Hills.
The ninth annual
Fort Robinson Break Out
Spiritual Run enables Northern
Cheyenne youth to better
understand history and
"They're learning everyday values like teamwork, unity, learning to recognize opportunities and overcoming adversity," Whiteman said.
The run retraces
an important moment in the
Northern Cheyenne story.
In 1878, Chiefs Dull Knife and
Little Wolf decided to lead
their people from Oklahoma,
where they were dying, to their
ancestral land in Montana.
The U.S. Cavalry,
though, caught Dull Knife's band
and took them to Fort Robinson
in western Nebraska.
About 10:30 p.m. on Jan. 9, 1879, the band fled the barracks, and a bloody gun battle ensued. Most were killed within minutes. Many were later killed by U.S. soldiers. But Dull Knife and a few survivors managed a long, difficult journey -- once having to eat their shoes -- to the north.
Whiteman organized the first Memorial Breakout Run on the Northern Cheyenne reservation ten years ago. Four years later, the run expanded to a 400-mile relay from Nebraska to Montana.
During the run, youth follow their ancestors' path to Montana and the Tongue River, where they live today. Runners must also battle the elements. Caught in storms and plunging temperatures, they are forced to persevere and test themselves, Whiteman said. While safety is a high priority, the runners learn skills of survival and working together.
"It's spiritual, it's powerful," Whiteman said. "It's important that they better understand and value their culture, their traditions, and one's self," he said.
Village © Gina Boltz
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