“Your life is a gift from the Creator. Your gift back to the Creator is what you do with your life.”
-Billy Mills; Lakota, 1964 Olympic 10,000 meter champion
(for something special moment of the eagle )
Recently while running on a snow spotted trail among the sacred canyons of my h(om)eland I was brought to a time in which a great deal of my running experience was shared with my Turtle Island native companions. They were primarily from the tribes of the Southwest; Diné (Navajo), Hopi, and those of the Pueblo’s, Ute, yet also Lakota and others.
To breathe along with these fellow runners was a different experience than with others. It was far more quiet, we moved more like a breeze over the high desert scape of sage and sand; the awareness of sky, of desert cottontail, of raven or hawk in the sky was sharper.
I was often asked to come with them and to this day appreciate those invitations. For I learned much about being not only a runner. I learned about being abundantly alive as well. For these young men, and women, running was not a mere activity they might have been introduced to in school track. It was part of their cultures, their way of being, their spiritual practice. Many of them were introduced to running by their grandfathers as a proper way to be at one with the creator and the earth at their feet. Running was survival. Running was the hallmark of a Brave. Running was and remains ‘sacrament.’
I can tell you this; running with the ‘chi’ is nothing new. It was known, taught, and expressed way before a book came out on it. Indeed the practice, techniques, and other ‘secrets’ have been with these peoples for thousands of years and remain so.
Take a look at the cover of the book INDIAN RUNNING by Peter Nabokov (see amazon.com). Those three young warriors were three of the very same that often took me with them across the sagebrush and pinyon-juniper.
There is no doubt that there exists within the Native American Indian the talent to rival any endurance or long distance running tradition in the world, including the African nations. If we as a society enabled these outstanding talents as we do young kids yearning to be NFL Quarterbacks this would be witnessed. Yet I digress. For now, I in-courage you on your next run to move with open senses, quiet breath, soft feet, and the joy of the earth under your feet…see if you can catch just a little of what our native brothers and sisters have known.