::Native.Strength::

September 28, 2011

The 61st Annual Keetoowah Cherokee Celebration

The Keetoowah Cherokee Celebration starts with a basketball tournament on Thursday, September 29, and ends with a Stomp Dance on Saturday, October 1st in Tahlequah, Oklahoma.  Throughout the celebration, which is busy with sporting events, pow wow dancing, gospel singing, fishing, cultural demonstrations and a parade, the celebration will also be of the fact that the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma is no longer a landless tribe, thanks to an important decision of the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

“In a ten-page decision issued on May 24, 2011, the BIA announced its approval for the United States to take 76 acres of land into trust for the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma, a federally-chartered corporation under Section 3 of the Oklahoma Indian Welfare Act. The Tribe submitted its application to have the lands taken into trust in June 2004,” the tribe said in a press release.

“The parcel of land is located in Tahlequah, and is home to the tribe’s sacred dance grounds, its community gathering and celebration place, site of its elder center and other government buildings. Although there have been numerous contributions by many individuals over many years to accomplish getting land in trust, there is no doubt that the leadership of Chief George Wickliffe and Assistant Chief Charles Locust was a vital force in making things happen.”

The celebration is three days of cultural, spiritual, and athletic events that’ll wow visitors from far and wide.  From learning about Keetowah history at the newly opened John Hair Museum and Cultural center to arts and crafts and traditional American Indian food to cornstalk shoot and children’s turtle races, this is a event that truly has something for everyone.

For a full schedule of the events, click here. Or call (918) 431-1818 for more information.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comA Writer's Journey to Discovering Native American History - Indian Country Today Media Network.com.

October 24, 2011

Art Contest For a New Mascot at U. Of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Filed under: Education,News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , , , , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 5:30 pm

Students For a NEW Mascot, a new registered student organization on the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana campus, is gaining traction and attention. It’s important to note that these students are not concerned with the retired “Chief Illiniwek” mascot that has been the subject of so much controversy in the past. The Students For a New Mascot are moving beyond the Chief; their goal is to fill the void of a lack of an official mascot.

The group has begun to solicit artistic submissions from the campus and surrounding Champaign-Urbana community. Artistic submissions will be screened for compliance with NCAA guidelines by members of the group, and the top 5 posted on a dedicated website for anyone to vote for via an online ballot. The group will then petition the University of Illinois administration to officially adopt the new mascot.

What’s interesting is this group doesn’t seem to in total agreement with the school that the Chief mascot was, at best, thoughtless, and at worst, racist.

“Although some of us feel the past “Chief Illiniwek” mascot was appropriate and respectful, and some of us do not; we all agree that a new mascot would be a positive move forward. Additionally, we feel the loss of income for the University of Illinois due to lack of a popular mascot is especially problematic in the current economic climate,” the group states on their website.

“The NCAA has banned the Chief mascot; they are not allowing us to reinstate it. I and everyone else has their opinions on that situation, but what really matters right now is we don’t have a mascot. What better way to get a new one than to empower the students to come up with it?” said the organization president Thomas Ferrarell in a press release.

Their promotional efforts include selling popcorn balls and registering students into the official University of Illinois organization data base at a tent in front of the Illini Union Monday, October 24th through Friday, October 28th.  Contest guidelines, entry forms and the web-site address will be made public in the next couple of weeks and the group plans to have all of the submissions in and votes tallied in time to announce the new mascot on Valentine’s Day.

There is little doubt that at this point they’ll select a mascot that isn’t offensive to millions of American Indians, and instead choose one that does the required job of any mascot: give school spirit a name and a face, just not one that generalizes any person, tribe, or nation.

Perhaps you’re a student at University of Champaign-Urbana, Illionis, and you have a mascot idea?  If so, here is the contact information for the organizers:

Contact:
Thomas Ferrarell
Students for a NEW Mascot – President
847-393-3983
tjferrarell@gmail.com

Contact:
Karen Sixkiller
Students for a NEW Mascot – Treasurer
217-722-9145
karen6killer@gmail.com

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comActivism is Taking Over - ICTMN.com.

Nike N7 Helps American Indian and Aboriginal Youth Through Sport

Begun in 2000, inspired by the Native wisdom of the Seven Generations, Nike’s N7 program is one of the premier national initiatives for keeping Native youth physically active. Supported through a portion of profits from sales of the N7 Collection, as well as by private donations, the program’s namesake fund has generated more than $1 million to help Native and aboriginal nonprofit groups provide access to sport for young people.

The ultimate goal? To spur these newly energized youth to act as catalysts for positive change in their communities.

As if that were not ambitious enough, the program also helps tribal sports teams flourish nationwide and in Canada. “Today in the U.S., 300-plus communities use N7 products to promote sport and physical activity,” says Sam McCracken, N7’s general manager and chairman of its board of directors.

Building N7 has been a transformative experience for McCracken, who grew up on the Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Reservation in Poplar, Montana. He is quick to point out his “humble beginnings” at the athletic-footwear-and-apparel company: “I started in the distribution center.”

Almost immediately, though, McCracken seemed destined for greater heights. In June 1997, the same month he joined Nike, he was asked to take a volunteer role in leading one of the company’s several diversity programs—in this case, the Native American Employee Network. McCracken set about preparing a business plan to make athletic gear and sport more accessible to Native and aboriginal youth. His dedication paid off: Three years later, Nike promoted him to manager of Nike Native American Business, named N7 in 2007 with the launch of its first shoe, Nike Air Native N7.

“I took advantage of the opportunity Nike gave me, and it blossomed into Nike N7,” he says. “I always tell Native youth to look at the opportunities in front of them and take advantage of those.”

To create Nike Air Native N7, McCracken and his colleagues collaborated with the Indian Health Service to do foot scans to meet the specific fit and width requirements of the Native American foot. “That was the dawn of the logo, which has resonated into today.”

N7 collections have since evolved, featuring footwear and apparel in turquoise, black, red, yellow and other colors associated with Native culture. The holiday collection will be unveiled this fall at the National Congress of American Indians’ 68th Annual Conference in Portland, Oregon. And the Fall 2011 collection includes designs by artist Bunky Echo-Hawk, of the Pawnee Nation in Oklahoma and Yakama Nation in Washington. Among the items are graphic T-shirts featuring a traditional Native warrior holding a basketball in a strike pose.

Beyond encouraging Native youth to get up and move, the N7 program aims to decrease the disproportionate rates of obesity and diabetes among American Indian and aboriginal populations. It is a goal that has a special meaning for McCracken.

“My mother had type 2 diabetes,” he says. “While staying at her bedside, holding her hand as the Creator took her away, I knew I didn’t want other people to go through that experience. Here, I’m providing access to disease-prevention coordinators throughout the U.S. to empower them to do their jobs better.”

From the start, N7 has attracted a wide spectrum of supporters, including Native athletes who advocate for American Indian and aboriginal youth participation in sport. Going by the title of N7 Ambassadors, they include Jacoby Ellsbury, center fielder for the Boston Red Sox, and Sam Bradford, quarterback for the St. Louis Rams. Other prominent names are Navajo long-distance runner and hopeful 2012 Olympic marathoner Alvina Begay, and Northern Cheyenne, Eastern Shoshone, Pawnee and Sioux basketball star Tahnee Robinson.

For McCracken, the relationship has been most rewarding. “Most of these folks have come to us about being involved,” he says. “Alvina and Tahnee are great supporters of the vision, sharing what sport has done to elevate their lives.” Indeed, the general manager has found that the benefits work both ways: “I’m helping them fulfill some of their dreams and visions of giving back to the community where they grew up.”

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comActivism is Taking Over - ICTMN.com.

November 7, 2011

Indigenous Sights from the 2011 New York City Marathon

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports,World News — Tags: , , — ICTMN Staff @ 7:45 pm

It was a gloriously beautiful day for the New York City Marathon on Sunday, November 6th.  One of the greatest days of the year in New York (you will not find another day in the year where strangers are as kind, and supportive, of each other as you will during the marathon) is also an opportunity for the city to celebrate it’s many nationalities and heritages, including indigenous people who come from far away to compete, or who live in the city and come out to support the runners.

No indigenous group traveled farther to compete in the NYC Marathon then the Australian runners who made up the Indigenous Marathon Project. All 11 of former world champion marathon runner Rob de Castella’s Indigenous Marathon Project runners completed the marathon yesterday, coming from some of the most remote communities in Australia to compete in one of the world’s largest marathons.

Supported by the Australian Government, De Castella’s nonprofit SmartStart for Kids established the Indigenous Marathon Project in 2009.  As Running Times Magazine reported, the former marathon world record-holder and four-time Olympian launched the Marathon Project to discover and develop distance runners from the indigenous population of Australia.  De Castella lists one of his ultimate goals as having a indigenous marathon runner on the Australian Olympic Team, hopefully as soon as 2016.

Much like Notah Begay’s efforts to promote healthy lifestyles in Indian Country here in the states, De Castella’s project’s aim is foster the same kind of healthy living amongst indigenous Australians, who suffer from a similar disproportionate rate of diabetes, drug and alcohol abuse amongst their communities as American Indians do in the United States.

“The difference in life expectancy between white Australians and indigenous Australians is about 15 years, and that’s just a disgrace,” Castella told Running Times Magazine, “There is so much poverty and social unrest and drugs and violence and social dysfunction in the indigenous communities, and we as a nation have to do something. And I really think running, and especially the marathon, has the capacity to change lives.”

In yesterday’s marathon, all eleven of his runners completed the grueling 26.2 miles, an impressive feat for anyone.  This year’s team included four women.  The runners were Nadine Hunt, Bianca Graham, Bridgette Williams, Sam Shepherd, Arian Pearson, Patrick Keain, Reggie Smith, Nathan Sutherland, Michael Purcell, Kiwa Schilling and Caine Schofield.  Here’s a shot of the team:

Indigenous Marathon Project team 270x180 Indigenous Sights from the 2011 New York City Marathon

Indigenous Marathon Project team from Australia

Along the marathon course, you’ll hear many languages—Spanish, Japanese, French, Hindi…the list is extremely long. It’s a day where New York gets to celebrate its incredibly diversity.  Here’s runner John de Guzman, who completed the marathon wearing this headdress:

Screen shot 2011 11 07 at 12.26.18 PM 270x214 Indigenous Sights from the 2011 New York City Marathon

John De Guzman in headdress

For a sense of the scope of the marathon, here’s a shot from above the Verrazano Bridge, which connects the boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn, and where the marathon begins.

Marathon View from Above 270x179 Indigenous Sights from the 2011 New York City Marathon

Marathon View from Above the Verrazano Bridge

Here is a man carrying the Chilean flag, and carrying some extra weight in the form of his running atire.

Marathon Chilean runner 270x179 Indigenous Sights from the 2011 New York City Marathon

Chilean man carries flag

Thousands of people run to raise money for charities.  Here’s a runner who Notah Begay III would find much in common with.

main img 270x128 Indigenous Sights from the 2011 New York City Marathon

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comMarty Two Bulls, 'Native American Heritage Month' - ICTMN.com.

November 21, 2011

Red Cloud Athletes Qualify for National Cross-Country Meet

Two Red Cloud High School athletes will join more than 3,000 other competitors in South Carolina on December 10 at the 2011 United States of America Track & Field Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championships.

To qualify for the national competition, sophomore Daniel Lucero and freshman Percival I’atala came in first and fifth respectively at the USATF Dakotas X-Country Championships held November 5 in Aberdeen, South Dakota.

“Now that we are heading to nationals, I know that we will be going up against some of the fiercest competition in the United States, but it is these kinds of meets that push me to do better,” Lucero said. “I am going to train as hard as I can.”

Lucero finished the Intermediate Division 5K run with a time of 18:22 and I’atala finished with a time of 23:26.

“It was a hard meet because it was really windy, so I’m glad we finished,” I’atala said. “I’ll be finding ways to increase my speed before South Carolina.”

They will be representing the Dakotas Region in the Intermediate Category, which includes youth born from 1995-1996.

Their coach at Red Cloud, Matt Rama, couldn’t be prouder of them. “It’s a tribute for these young runners to receive an opportunity like this, they worked hard all season long. I am proud of their dedication not only to Red Cloud, but to running and the spirit of the sport.”

The Junior Olympic Cross-Country Championships brings together youth from 16 regions to compete in six different age groups.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comCall for imagineNATIVE Proposals for 2012 - ICTMN.com.

December 31, 2011

You Have Two Weeks Left to Help the Incredible Racing the Rez Documentary See the Light of Day

Click here to view the embedded video.

“In the rugged canyon lands of Northern Arizona, tradition and sport unite two boys cross country teams on the Navajo and Hopi reservations as they battle to be state champs.  To succeed they must conquer both the rigors of training and the personal obstacles they face.  Win or lose, what these boys learn in the course of their season will have a dramatic effect on the rest of their lives.”

Sound like something you’d be interested in seeing?  Yeah, us too. The above is a brief description of Racing the Rez, a documentary by Brian Truglio, who first traveled to the Navajo and Hopi reservations as part of a college assistant teaching program in 1991.  As Brian says on his KickStarter page, where you can go to help make sure this project sees the light of day, “I’ve been continually drawn back [to the Navajo and Hopi reservations] ever since. Knowing the long Navajo and Hopi tradition of running, I set out to see if cross-country was having the impact on Navajo and Hopi boys that it had on me. After two years and two seasons of filmming, Racing the Rez is the story of that impact.”

KickStarter.com is the world’s “largest funding platform for creative projects,” as the website states.  It is where people like Brian go with projects when traditional forms of financial backing are hard to come by.  Brian has been working on Racing the Rez for four years, and is currently $11,215 shy of of the $15,000 he needs to have this project funded.  The deadline is January 13 at 9:34 a.m., EST.

“We need the funds to finish the project and bring it to Public TV stations across the country,” Brian writes on their KickStarter page.  ”Just as every cross country runner needs the support of their teammates to succeed, we need your help to run that last mile and take Racing the Rez across the finish line.  We think this story of dedication and hope will inspire people of all ages, on and off the reservation and we’re not alone.  Based on the strength of the work we’ve done so far we’ve received generous funding from Native American Public Telecommunications and been picked up by American Public Television for distribution to Public TV stations.  The funding we received has gotten us this far but we still need $15,000 to prepare the film for its Public TV broadcast in late 2012.”

For more information, please visit Racing the Rez‘s KickStarter page here. Even if you can’t help out financially, just by spreading the word you might be a key player in getting this beautiful, worthy documentary seen by thousands of people.  It’s an incredibly inspiring story, one that deserves to be told, and seen.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.com2011’s Memorable Quotes: Good and Bad Part 2 - ICTMN.com.

January 5, 2012

Meet 10-Year-Old Xavier Guillory, Nez Perce Track and Field Star

Filed under: News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , — ICTMN Staff @ 6:30 pm

Xavier Guillory returned from the National Track and Field Championships held in Wichita, Kansas last summer with a medal in the 800 meter finals with a 7th place finish in a field of 45 runners. He also finished 13th in the 400 meters out of a field of 38 of the best runners in the nation in his age bracket. The top eight finishers in each event won medals.

Xavier is an enrolled Nez Perce tribal member and the son of Raphael and Gloria Guillory, both Nez Perce tribal members who now live in Spokane. His dad, Dr. Raphael Guillory, is a professor at Eastern Washington University (E.W.U.), his alma mater. The Guillory’s have five youngsters and Xavier, at 10, is the middle of their five youngsters and the only boy in the family.

“Xavier is one of the fastest kids in the country,” his dad comments. That likely comes both from excellent coaching and family genetics. His dad played at Lapwai High School on the reservation when they won 76 straight basketball games and took State three straight years. He went on to start at free safety on the E.W.U. football team which won the Big Sky championship.

Xavier’s granddad played football at the University of Idaho, then turned pro with the Dallas Cowboys till a knee injury ended his career in pre-season.

Gloria was also an athlete, playing three sports at Lapwai and being named All-State honorable mention in basketball.

That inheritance, combined with excellent coaching at the Spokane Mercury Track Club, probably combines for Xavier’s success. But his favorite sport?  “It’s football,” he exclaims.

“You’ll always see him with a football in his hands,” his dad says.

Xavier is looking forward to the Nationals again next summer which will be held in Baltimore. “I want to run the 200, 400, and 800 meters,” he says. He just barely missed qualifying for the 200 at regionals this year but says, “I think I can get in at the 200 next year.”

He’s also an excellent student. “We heavily emphasize the education end,” his dad says. “I think the academic side is the more important.” Good advice for all young athletes.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comRFP: The Navajo Nation Oil and Gas Company seeks audit services - ICTMN.com.

January 14, 2012

Update on Navajo Runners Alvina Begay and Craig Curley’s Olympic Team Trials

Filed under: Health & Wellness,News Alerts,Sports — Tags: , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 6:30 pm

UPDATE:

Alvina Begay put together a strong showing at today’s Olympic Trials, finishing 56th out of 152 runners.  Begay finished with a time of 2:42:40. A really impressive effort against the best runners in the country. Shalane Flanagan, 30, a bronze medal winner from the Olympics in Beijing in 2008, won the marathon with a time of 2:25:38, 17 seconds ahead of second place Desiree Davila.  The final spot on the Olympic team went to Kara Goucher, who was 11 seconds behind Davilla.

Curley had a tougher day, coming in 84th out of 85 runners. Yet ran a 2:39:53.  Both Begay and Curley should be proud, they ran for much more than themselves today, they ran for all of Indian Country.

Today at 3 p.m. EST on NBC, Navajo runners Alvina Begay and Craig Curley will race in the Olympic Trials Marathon in Houston, vying to become one of the three women and three men who will represent the United States at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The course is an eight-mile loop that goes counterclockwise three times to complete the 26.2 mile marathon. Begay is running the marathon against 224 other women, while Curley will be competing in the marathon against 85 other men.

Olympic Trials Course 615x373 Update on Navajo Runners Alvina Begay and Craig Curleys Olympic Team Trials

In order to qualify for the Olympic trials, the men were required to run a 2:19:00 or faster in the full marathon and under a 1:05 in the half marathon (there is also a 10,000K race today, in which qualifiers needed to run a sub 28:30).  The women’s qualifying runs had to be 2:46 or faster for the marathon, under 1:15 for the half marathon, and under 33:00 in the 10,000k. Imagine running a mile in a little over eight minutes.  Now imagine doing that 26 times in a row.  The endurance required for this sport is beyond mere strength and conditioning, it is mental, it is about pushing yourself to go harder when you think your body has nothing left.

How stiff is the competition?  Consider that the top qualifier in the men’s half marathon, Dathan Ritzenhein, ran the 13.1 miles in exactly one hour (that’s a 4-and-a-half minute per mile pace!) Curley, who qualified in the middle of the 161-man pack, finished his qualifying run in 1:04:14.  The last two qualifiers, Joseph Chirlee and Tommy Neal, finished at 1:05:00.  For every minute of difference, dozens and dozens of runners are separated from the top three positions.

For the women, the separation between runners is much greater.  Desiree Davila, the top qualifier, hit her mark for the Olympic trials at the Boston Marathon last April, running it in 2:22:38.  Begay, who is in the top half of the pack, qualified with a time of 2:37:14 at the Phoenix marathon in January of 2010.  It will take a huge push for her to make up the difference and finish in the top three today, but if anyone can do it, it’s Begay.

Qualifying for the Olympic trials is an achievement worthy of praise and recognition itself. Each runner is in peak physical condition, their bodies, minds and spirits perfected over years of training, for many a lifetime of training. So today is not just about the race itself, but about everything each one of these runners did to get here. All those hours of training, all those early mornings when the rest of us were sleeping and they were out on the road, all those healthy choices in terms of diet (hey, almost everybody would eat pizza all the time if they could), all those times their bodies felt as if they were going to shut down but they willed themselves to continue—today’s race is a testament to their strength, physical, mental and spiritual.

Both Navajo runners will take the starting mark with a long history of excellence (and an even longer history of hard work) and strong support from the American Indian community.  Begay is a Nike N7 ambassador with a running pedigree that goes back to her upbringing on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, Arizona.  As her N7 profile states, Begay grew up running at an elevation of 6,000+ feet, on “endless, dusty dirt roads and trails of her hometown.” Running was in Begay’s blood—her father was a long distance runner, and with his and her mother’s support, she turned her Northeastern Arizona upbringing on those 11-million acres of Navajo land into the perfect incubator for success not just running, but also in school.  She was an Academic and Athletic All-American, studying at Adams State College and then Arizona State, inspiring countless people in Indian Country, as well as the people she met along the way who got to experience her passion first hand.

Long distance running is about balance—when to push, when to conserve energy, how to strike the ground, how to hold your body, and balance is something Begay takes into her personal life as well.  Not content with just being a big-time runner and Olympic hopeful, she is working on completing her master’s degree in Health Administration in Flagstaff, where she resides and has trained with Team USA Arizona running group. Leading up to the trials, she’s been training with the Nike Oregon Project, in Beaverton, Oregon, utilizing their facilities to maximize her chances in Houston. She also champions Wings of America, a running camp for Native America youth, which is also a part of the outreach goal of the running documentary Racing the Rez, which Indian Country Today Media Network reported on recently.

Begay recently shared some of her training regimen with RunnersFeed.com, in which she spoke about the importance of getting a good night’s rest before tackling a day that typically includes two runs (morning and afternoon) and strength exercises.  The meal she said she typically eats the night before a race is pasta, some chicken, bread and a salad.  She also shared what her race day shoes will be—unsurprisingly, considering her ambassadorship, she’ll be running today in Nike Lunar Racers.

craig curley Update on Navajo Runners Alvina Begay and Craig Curleys Olympic Team TrialsCraig Curley also grew up on the Navajo Reservation in Ganado, and currently lives and trains in Tucson. Curley is sponsored by Nideiltihi Native Elite Runners (NNER), a nonprofit organization that helps foster American Indian long distance runners in the Four Corner’s states, with the goal of representing the USA in national road and track competitions. Assisting potential world-class Native runners who would otherwise struggle to be able to compete financially and get themselves into important events, such as the Olympic trials in Houston, NNER makes it possible for runners like Curley to compete in major events.

Curley trains under the guidance of the Pima Community College head cross country and track coach, Greg Wenneborg. His recent races have included the USA 20K championships in New Haven, Connecticut, the MedTronic Twin City 10 Miler in Minneapolis/St. Paul, and the Las Vegas Half Marathon.

Today, six runners will earn a spot on the United States Olympic Team, hundreds will earn the right to say they competed for the toughest roster spot in professional long distance running, and two, Begay and Curley, will earn, once again, the respect and admiration of everyone in Indian Country.

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comShy-Anne Hovorka Honors Friend's Last Wish With Video on Distracted Driving - ICTMN.com.

Navajo Craig Curley Juggles Work and Training for Olympic Marathon Trials

This morning, Craig Curley, a Navajo long distance runner from Kinlichee, Arizona (near Ganado), will compete in the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Texas with the country’s elite.

The three men and women first to cross the finish line with qualifying “A” standard times for the trials will represent the United States in the marathon at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, held July through August 2012.

Curley hopes his years of training and dedication will pay off today. In preparation for the trials, Curley ran “doubles”—once in the morning and once in the evening—nearly daily.  “My running template of my day tends to be splitting my running into one run in the morning and one run in the evening. I do this mostly because I like running on different surfaces outside. Two a days enables me to cover as much ground on various trails, roads and sometimes the track, and Southern Arizona offers some amazing trails.”

CraigCurley Navajo Craig Curley Juggles Work and Training for Olympic Marathon Trials

Craig Curley (Courtesy of NNER)

And Curley doesn’t stop there. “I also put in time at the gym for core strength and strength training. I use free weights or the medicine ball and concentrate on fixing any muscle imbalances. This type of cross training acts as a precautionary excercise to keep injuries at bay.”

Juggling his running regimen with his part-time work schedule has been no easy feat. “I have a funky schedule most days because I work part time and I pick up any extra hours when my job requires some extra help,” Curley told Runners Feed.

Luckily for Curley, the work environment is conducive to his lifestyle and goals. “I help people get fitted for running shoes and my coworkers are very supportive of my training,” Curley shared. “I appreciate having a job where I can get to know my community. The moral support I receive is very special.”

Additonal support comes from Nideiltihi Native Elite Runners (NNER), which sponsors American Indian distance runners in the Four Corners Region. NNNER “helps with the cost of travel to races, lodging and gym access,” Curley told Runners Feed. “More significantly this organization is geared toward helping the youth on the Navajo Reservation. NNER is one way I keep in touch with the my hometown and reach out to the community with my running.”

So what does this go-getter do to rejuvinate? “Other than that I pepper in all other hobbies on my downtime, which consists of watching a rerun episode of Rifleman or Man VS Wild and doing yard work because it relaxes me.”

Even though running has the potential to send Curley to the 2012 Olympics and powerfully impact his life, at the same time, it grounds him and keeps him connected to his Native roots.

“As a Native American, growing up I was shown how to value life and cherish the world that surrounds me. Even though this is a small part of the Native American Tradition and Culture, the mindset can be applied to running,” Curley said in an interview for NNER’s blog. “You run to care/cherish your body and in return you get the exercise that benefits you to live a healthy lifestyle. In addition, in the Tradition it says to pray in the morning when you run…however you can hear the complete sermon from a different source, but the teaching of the Tradition is there for youngsters to develop a sentimental connection to the natural world in hopes that the youngsters will learn to respect/value all the gifts of the world.”

Read more @ Indian Country Today Media Network.comShy-Anne Hovorka Honors Friend's Last Wish With Video on Distracted Driving - ICTMN.com.

February 26, 2012

Run Like the Rarámuri: Grueling UltraMarathon Helps Tarahumara Indians Through Turmoil

Filed under: Environment,News Alerts,Sports,Travel — Tags: , , , — ICTMN Staff @ 6:30 pm

Every March runners from across the world trek to the Copper Canyon in the state of Chihuahua, Mexico for a grueling endurance test–the UltraMarathon. The canyon is home to the Tarahumara Indians, also known as Rarámuri, who are renowned for their long-distance running ability and the basis of Christopher McDougall’s famous 2009 book Born to Run.

The UltraMarathon course follows a combination dirt road and single track trail beginning and ending in the plaza of the old town of Urique, running on rolling dirt road up and down the Urique river with diversions on single track trail up and down beautiful, lush arroyos. Described this way, the race sounds like a pleasant sightseeing jog. But that isn’t the case. Some might even say you need to be a little crazy to enter.

Runners must conquer a 50-mile race through the unforgiving terrain of the Copper Canyon, a remote and harsh landscape. The race consists of a 21-plus-mile loop up-river, followed by another 18-plus-mile loop down-river, then continues up-river again on rough dirt road out and back to the Tarahumara village of Guadalupe Coronado for another 10 miles, before ending in the plaza of the town of Urique. The estimated total climb is 9,300 feet, nearly two miles, in the deep canyon, with equal descent.

 Run Like the Rarámuri: Grueling UltraMarathon Helps Tarahumara Indians Through Turmoil

A Tarahumara Indian running in Mexico's remote Copper Canyons

Ready to sign up?

Race director Micah True, famously depicted as extreme runner Caballo Blanco in Born to Run, gives the “ground rules” for the race on his website CaballoBlanco.com.

No set entry fee—[a donation]. No [Limited] aid —[actually, there is now plenty of aid!]. No course markings [There will be some at key junctions and we will all pre-walk the course the Thursday and Friday prior to the weekend]. No awards [but self-satisfaction]–The Rarámuri will win prize money, corn and beans. No commercial interests. [IF allowed, PLEASE give back and share the results with us]. No filming/photography without permission [which would require sharing the results with us and giving something back to the Rarámuri]. No wimps, whiners or weenies allowed [except the (race director)!] No expectations [but of beauty!]

Please realize that:

Here in the land of the Tarahumara ANYTHING is possible!

These days, however, that optimism is being tested. The Tarahumara are being hard-hit by one of the most severe droughts they have ever faced, which is causing food production in the region to drop to dangerously low levels. Many Tarahumara men, women, and children are now facing starvation. Record low temperatures have only made the situation worse. Relief organizations are mobilizing to provide urgently needed supplies.

One Heart World-Wide (OHW), a San Francisco based non-profit organization, is aiming to raise $20,000 to support the Tarahumara community during this critical moment. One Heart World-Wide currently works with the Tarahumara, implementing programs in maternal and child health. Because pregnant women, nursing mothers and infants are especially vulnerable to food-shortages, OHW immediately felt compelled to send aid. OHW is teaming up with FECHAC, a local partner in Mexico, who will be responsible for distributing aid to the affected families.

True sees the UltraMarathon as another way to help. In a recent interview with Running Times, he said (the race) “is an opportunity to help the Rarámuri help themselves. It’s about the old traditions of farming and the old traditions of running and for them to know that people respect those things. … Using our race as the main stage–with smaller races among the villages on a regular basis, with prizes of cash and corn, to encourage the young ones to run, and others to run again, to remember and re-realize what a good and positive thing it is.”

The prizes of corn and crop seeds are particularly important this year, and are generously awarded. True’s website explains. At the awards ceremony, “the Top 10 Rarámuri [Tarahumara runners] will be handed huge cash awards and notice of the award of mixed corn and beans to the various settlements of the top 10 runners. The corn/beans awards at the 2010 race turned out to be the value of 120,000 pounds of corn! The cash awards were over $11,000 dollars. All finishers after the top 10 will be awarded 500 pounds of corn. Any stateside runner that finishes in the winnings will have the opportunity to present his/her prize as korima [a gift/sharing] however he/she wants, to be given/shared with the finishing Rarámuri or towns-people.”

This year’s race will take place March 4. A pre-race donation of $150 or more will reserve a spot for a runner, and a post-race donation is always appreciated, based on what the individual participant can afford and what the value of the experience was to the runner, notes the website. For those who mayn’t be up to tackling the full UltraMarathon, shorter runs will also be staged, including 18-, 20- and 40-milers. Participants who donate receive a special “CLUB MAS LOCO” T-shirt.

Crazy never felt so good.

For further details on the UltraMarathon, including registration forms, plus a wealth of information on Copper Canyon, Caballo Blanco and the Tarahumara Indians, visit CaballoBlanco.com. McDougall’s book on the Tarahumara Indians, Born to Run, is available at Amazon.com and bookshops nationwide.

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