Peace and Dignity Journeys, Running for the Seeds, Enters the San Diego Region
On July 20, the spiritual run Peace and Dignity Journeys entered the San Diego region on a run from Pechanga to Pala. Over thirty runners carried the sacred staffs along the eight mile stretch through mountainous terrain, escorted by the Native Riders Motorcycle Association. The runners stopped at a sacred site of the Temeekuyam People, and then they ran as a group down the last stretch of the hill into the Park outside the Cupa Cultural Center.
At the Park, Diana Duro talked about the history and struggles of indigenous peoples at Pala, to which villages from the Cupeño traditions were force-ably relocated, and her community's hopes for healing from the Peace and Dignity Journeys Runners:
“Today we carry on the sacredness of our language. We carry on the traditions of a hundred years plus. We carry on the remembrances of our ancestors and what they had to go through when they were moved from [the site of the villages of Cupa, present-day Warner Springs]. We are the only tribe in Southern California that has been moved from our reservation down to another location. Yes, this is where we reside today, but we are the people from Cupa...”
“The people of this land are Luiseños. The Luiseño People accepted the Cupeño People when they brought us down here in 1903. They brought our people down here in covered wagons. In chains and ropes. In horses and buggies. They brought our children and our mothers and our grandmothers and our sisters and brothers and our aunties and our uncles. They brought them down from another reservation, they brought us down here. And today we carry on our traditional ways. We carry on what we were taught.”
“My Grandmother was the only one who stood up in this whole tribe to explain what happened to our people. She said never forget. So we never forgot...”
“We thank you. We know what this Run means to you. It takes a good heart to come down that hill... This year it was an appointed time for you to be met at that gate. How awesome it is, that the Creator sent you people, hand-picked you, to come down here to us to clean it up for us. Thank you. It's good. It's beautiful. This is why we wanted you to be here.”
“A brother said last night, They need to know we're still here. They need to know we're still here as a people. We're still here.”
A theme throughout the day was the pain and trauma that the violence and relocation of colonialism had caused the local indigenous peoples, and the healing power of ceremony and of connection to the land and to the traditions.
At the end of a hot day, the Runners walked and ran from the Park a few miles down the road to Claron Yager's Ceremonial Land for the Closing Circle, some valuable words and stories from Ed Martinez and Uncle Claron, and a delicious and nourishing dinner.
Esmeralda Sanchez, from the San Diego Peace and Dignity Journeys Collective, expressed gratitude and appreciation to Diana Duro, Claron Yager, Shannon Magee and Ed Martinez, to the Elder Uncle Tubby, and to the communities of Pala and Pechanga for welcoming the Runners onto their land, hosting them and blessing them with their stories and ceremonies, and to Eric Ortega of Pala Rez Radio 91.3 for getting the word out.