The Eagle and The Condor Reunited by Peace and Dignity Journey Runners in the Kuna Nation

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Runners from the Northern and Southern routes of the Peace and Dignity Journey, a sacred journey starting in Tierra del Fuego and Alaska and traveling on foot thousands of kilometers through hundreds of indigenous communities, met Friday on a bridge crossing the Panama Canal in the Kuna Nation.

The goals of the journey were outlined by the Northern route coordinator, Jose Malvido, "We're doing a prayer run, a peace run, a unity run, we're running and praying for unity of all peoples, all nations, all indigenous nations and nonindigenous nations. Drawing from the traditions and wisdom of our ancestors and elders, we carry sacred staffs, so when we run, we're carrying the hopes, dreams, prayers and also some of the sorrows of some of the communities and families along the road."

San Diego contributed five core runners, those who participated through most to all of one of the routes: Gaby and Oscar in the South and Ymoat, Abel and Arturo in the North. The San Diego runners documented, from an indigenous perspective, the traditions and struggles of the communities through which they passed, as well as their own experiences (click here for blog posts, photos, audio and video), including...

In the South: running through volcanic ash from the erupting mountain Chaiten in Mapuche territory; participating in the Inti Raymi (Andean New Year) celebration in the community Tilcara; visiting the Uros communities that live on floating islands in Lake Titicaca (Peru); the toll that tourism takes on Sacred Sites and the maintenance of traditions; elders who measure the passage of time through the growth of the heart; and musical customs of AfroEcuadoran communities in El Valle del Chota. In the North: struggles of Athebascan communities in Alaska against government appropriation and pollution of Native lands and Sacred Sites; the impact of resource extraction on communities, including the looming struggle of the Wet'suwet'en and surrounding Nations (British Columbia) against Shell; stories of historical repression of Sun Dance and other traditions of the Plains Tribes; visits to Bear Butte and Wounded Knee, ecological restoration at Round Lake and White Earth (Minnesota); the Berkeley Oak Grove Tree Sit; and a meeting in El Salvador with indigenous president of Bolivia, Evo Morales, who endorsed the journey.

The San Diego runners plan to organize and widely distribute their documented materials so as to promote communication and the goals of the journey.

In the North, the journey split in Canada into Plains and (west) Coastal routes, with additional splits and numerous feeder routes, including New York and Trail of Tears routes joining the Plains runners, and Baja and San Ysidro routes joining the Coastal runners. The Coastal route passed through the San Diego area in July, with stops including the Cahuilla, Santa Ysabel, Pala and Manzanita reservations, and the Sacred Site Chicano Park on Kumeyaay Land.

At least one person carrying a sacred staff travels every step of the journey. As the runners approach the land of an indigenous Nation, they are met typically by elders and community members, who walk the staffs into the community, where a welcoming ceremony, discussions with community members and other activities and ceremonies are held. Community members might assist the runners in traversing the route through their territory. For example, the Coastal route runners were met at the Cahuilla reservation boundary by an elder, who passed the sacred staffs to a group of reservation and community youth who had trained for the run with exercise, healthy food and learning about their traditions. The youth ran the staffs to the tribal community center, where elders, accompanied by Kumeyaay Bird Singers, walked the staffs to a welcoming ceremony and celebration. The youth ran the route to the next stop the following day.

The first Peace and Dignity Journey took place in 1992, the 500th anniversary of the arrival of the european colonizers, and it repeats every four years. This year's run honored indigenous Sacred Sites, many of which, including Black Mesa (strip mining), Quechan (gold mining), San Francisco Peaks (commercial skiing/wastewater snow) and Ward Valley (nuclear dump), are threatened by resource extraction or development. Previous journeys honored 500 years of resistance (1992), youth (1996), the family (2000) and women (2004).

Peace and Dignity Journeys is said to be a fulfillment of the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor, described by runner Oscar: "The eagle is representative of the nations of the North, and the condor is representative of the South. And there's an ancient, ancient prophecy, shared through all nations and can be seen way back to Mayan prophecy, with the eagle and the condor intertwined by the neck. That represents our people, all Native people, together as one people, without borders. There will come a time when the red people, the brown people, will be divided by society, by borders, by material possessions, by a new way of life, and we will be begin to lose ourselves as a people. But there is hope. After this period, there will come a generation that will make the eagle and the condor fly wing by wing once again."

Peace and Dignity Journeys Links: Media and Runners' Blog || Abel's Blog || Main Website || Myspace

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