Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Run brings honor, awareness

MACY, Neb. -- Its been awhile since Barry Webster was asked to run so far.

The 40-year-old used to run full-court fast breaks and relays as a junior college point guard, but that was two decades ago. On Thursday, though, he agreed to shake away the rust so he could lead more than 20 American Indian runners from the powwow grounds here to Omaha for the first leg of the fifth Honor the Youth Spiritual Run.

"Its important for me to be involved. It's a great cause," said Webster, vice chairman of the Omaha Tribal Council in Macy.

Webster and other participants want to raise awareness of American Indian youth suicide, drug and alcohol addiction, tobacco abuse and violence.

From Omaha, the runners will pass through Lincoln, Neb., on their way to the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation in Mayetta, Kan., more than 200 miles from Macy.

Webster was asked carry a 10-pound eagle staff akin to the Olympic torch shortly after arriving at the grounds around 6 a.m. The staff had been blessed by an Ojibwa elder before the first spiritual run, from Minneapolis to the Red Lake Indian Reservation, in 2005. On Thursday, Webster ran with the staff for a few yards before handing it off to Red Lake Tribal Chairman Floyd "Buck" Jourdain, who had driven 10 hours from his home reservation in northern Minnesota to run in the event.

"We think these are very sacred and significant runs," Jourdain said.

Before the eagle staff arrived in Red Lake in 2005, Jourdain said, the reservation suffered from a rash of youth suicides. Since, there hasn't been a single suicide on the reservation, he said. The spiritual run sparked an awareness of youth suicide on the reservation, and together, the community was able to begin to fight the problem.

In 2006, the Omaha Reservation was much like Red Lake. There were four youth suicides that year, but after runners bearing the staff arrived in Macy from Rosebud, S.D., there hasn't been a suicide.

But on both reservations, there still are numerous suicide attempts. That's why the run continues each year.

Ricky Saunsoci runs for those who have taken their own lives, but he also runs to represent his Omaha Tribe and his family. His niece, 11-year-old Colleen New Holy, said the suicides on the reservation were hard to deal with. But the run helped the community heal, when it arrived in 2006 and again when it left on Thursday, she said.

Saunsoci jogged out of Macy on U.S. Highway 75 with a group of runners from the Honor the Youth Organization in Minneapolis, the sun already popping out sweat on their backs and faces.

Saunsoci said he'd probably stop in Decatur, Neb., nine miles from Macy. He hopes that's enough, he said, to "honor the youth."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Incoming Thoughts on the Extraordinary...

Whatever that means! Ha, ha, ha!

I am visiting the lake country of the Anishinaabe people. I must admit that I am rather fascinated by all that I am learning. Just seems that as I go along I find that there are many similarities to the Omaha people. We share so much of the same philosophies...such as the Four Hills of Life.

My friend and sister (who is my spiritual twin) Terri Drift-Hill lives near and works for her tribe the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa in Nett Lake, Minnesota (check out the link to their website). If you've ever been to Nett Lake then you know that this is one area that is immersed in beauty. I always respond to such places with a huge sense of awe and a feeling akin to obsession.

This is probably the best place for me to be at this time in my life. Since I am so full of contemplation (snort) and am seeking a personal revitalization and rebirthing process. It's almost too much to contemplate.

I want so badly to write, especially my poetry. I am at a loss for words right now. That's why I thought I'd blog today to get my juices flowing so to speak. At least in the words arena. Documentation often begins with our thoughts and feelings. And living the way I do, which most people don't seem to realize about me, has led me to the most extraordinary places and events. I am no coward and have usually been up to any adventure.

This morning I woke up with the memory of being in the Fichtelgebirge Mountains of Bavaria, Germany. It must be the air here in northern Minnesota that brings back those memories of the summer I spent in Germany years ago. The Fichtelgebirge Mountains are very beautiful and captivated me much like this area does. Sehr gut!

Fichtelgebirge mountains
"Nature - culture - leisure - history" - the Fichtelgebirge mountain holiday region in a nutshell. Around 540 million years ago, these mountains were higher than the comparatively young Alps, stacked up by powerful natural forces. They are still impressive today, but over the millions of years the power of nature has again changed their shape. What remains is a very fine, flawless, polished gemstone, a range of scenically attractive mountains arranged like a lucky horseshoe. Everywhere there are reminders of the area's dramatic evolution - piles of granite blocks, fields of boulders, rock labyrinths and rock formations like heaps of mattresses or wool sacks. Entire forests cling tightly to the rocks.

My love affairs with natural places began long ago when I was little. I grew up in Lincoln, NE and though my family moved around, even to Montana for a little while, I always had the desire to see places that were still in their natural state. Places without boundaries so to speak. Places that had no fences to impede movement. I longed to see these places and sought them out whenever I could just so I'd know that there were such places that existed in this world.

I don't like fences and would probably live out in the wild if it were all possible.

There are no coincidences as my sister Pat Shepard always likes to say. There are reasons why I am called to such places as this. My spirit has been called here to the woodlands and the lakes of the Anishinaabe people. I am spellbound.