I was very fortunate to have participated in Dennis Bank’s Sacred Run in 1996. The Run started at the Pacific Ocean on March 28 and we arrived in Atlanta, Georgia on July 11, just prior to the start of the 1996 Summer Olympics.
The purpose of the Sacred Run was to connect with the indigenous peoples of America and together in a spiritual way, try to raise people’s consciousness towards issues affecting not only the Native communities but also our future generations and the fragile balance between humanity and our environment.
The Sacred Run was started in the United States in 1978 by Dennis Banks, an Anishinabe activist and AIM leader, with the purpose of carrying the message that “All Life is Sacred”. It was inspired by the ancient Native American tradition of running great distances, even to the most remote villages, to spread messages, news and information.
There were runners from all over the US & Canada, including Japan & Russia. It was not an easy feat being a runner. It was summer so temperatures were hot, especially in the afternoons. Sometimes the runners would run up to 30 miles in a day.
I joined as one of the support staff for the Run, from Wendon City, Arizona to Atlanta. I was basically a Dennis gopher, whenever things needed to be done, call me. I had many different tasks including setting up/ tearing down water & food stations and advance logistics. I brought my own vehicle to the run so I was able to be of use in that way.
A typical day started early, usually with a prayer circle. The runners would start in the cool of the morning and were usually finished before the hottest part of the afternoon. Dennis was amazing. He was always a positive coach and cheerleader to the runners. In the evening, there was usually some type of interaction with the local hosts, often involving the Drum.
I think that one of the main reasons we were welcomed into these communities was our No Drugs/ No Alcohol policy. Unfortunately in a lot of the communities, alcohol & drugs are a problem. Also, the fact that it was Dennis Banks’ run certainly didn’t hurt. There was often media and camera crews from the local stations, as we were passing though, especially in more populated areas.
After the runners arrived in Atlanta there was a lot of publicity. News and print media were there. Dennis gave lots of great interviews. There was a private party for the runners and support staff, hosted by Horst Rechelbacher, CEO of Aveda Corporation. Aveda was one of the major sponsors of the Run.
Most everyone from the Run went to a pow-wow near Atlanta arranged by
Dennis’ friend, Cleto Montelongo.
The Run was an amazing experience and I feel blessed to have been a small part of it.
After the Run was over, Dennis invited some of the runners and their supporters to come join, as support, for the AIM Sundance at Pipestone National Monument in southwestern Minnesota. Several of the runners were participating in the Sundance.
Some of the support staff from the run were given the honor of keeping the fire going. The fire has to burn 24 hours per day till the last dancer breaks free from their tether, sometimes taking over 3 days. The supporters were given the opportunity to give a "flesh offering' in support of the Sun Dancers.
All in all, it was an Amazing experience! I feel blessed to have experienced a traditional Sundance.
Following the Sundance, Dennis invited interested people to Washington state for the
"Let Me Be Free" run.
I recently realized how silly it is to have all these photos gathering dust in photo albums.
Thus my effort in trying to get these photos out there so people can enjoy them.