Recent articles feature indigenous runners

I’ve noticed an increase in the number of articles being published on indigenous runners. Many, including a nice write-up in Indian Country Today,  center on Navajo runner Alvina Begay and her attempt to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

Although she did not make the U.S. team, she is a remarkable runner. Keep your eyes on Begay and Navajo runner Craig Curley, who also tried out for the Olympics, as we look to the future of indigenous running.

And take a few minutes to view this clip:

In the March 2012 edition of Runner’s World, Kenny Moore wrote a lengthy and insightful article on Oglala Lakota runner Billy Mills. Mills ran cross-country for Haskell Institute (now Haskell Indian Nations University) and the University of Kansas. But he is best known for winning a gold medal in the 10,000 meter race at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Check out the following video:

At the Olympics, Mills also broke Hopi Olympic runner Louis Tewanima’s long standing U.S. record in the same event. Records are meant to be broken (you have to break one to make one). And who better to break Tewanima’s record than another indigenous runner?

Also,  Indian Country Today recently ran a short story about a documentary film titled Racing the Rez. The film is about Hopi and Navajo cross-country runners who competed for Tuba City High School in Tuba City, Arizona. It is scheduled to be released this Fall.

Although I don’t know much about the film or its producer (Brian Truglio), it looks very promising.

Here is the trailer:

As the 2012 Olympic Games in London approaches, expect to see more articles on Native athletes, especially long distance runners.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

A visit to Haskell Indian Nations University

Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert
Photograph by Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert

During the first week of August I conducted research at the Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas. The school use to be Haskell Institute, one of several off-reservation Indian boarding schools in the United States.

In the late 1890s and early 1900s, government officials usually sent Hopi students to the Phoenix Indian School in Arizona, Sherman Institute in California, the Albuquerque Indian School in New Mexico, or Stewart Indian School in Nevada. While fewer Hopis attended Haskell, the school and the surrounding community continues to have an important role in Hopi history.

When I was not examining documents at the Haskell Cultural Center and Museum, I walked around campus and photographed the school’s buildings, including the stadium (pictured above). I also dropped by the Department of American Indian Studies and spoke with Comanche professor Michael Tosee. We talked at length about the school’s cross-country program and Hopi long distance runners.

My research trip to Haskell was very productive and I am especially grateful to Bobbi Rahder, Archivist and Curator of the Museum, for her help in providing me with access to the archival collections. The documents that I uncovered will be very meaningful to Hopi people.

Matthew Sakiestewa Gilbert