Yesterday I was moved by the stories of survivors of the Indian Boarding Schools. The stories were shared by the National Native American Boarding School Healing Coalition (NABS) during a two hour Zoom online seminar titled Seven Weeks of Action for Seven Generations, Week One! The purpose is to support the passage of the Truth and Healing Commission on Indian Boarding School Policies in the United States Act (S. 2907/H.R. 5444)
I really related to the story told by Ku Stevens.
Kutoven “Ku” Stevens and his family organized a 50-mile run honoring the survivors and victims of the Stewart Indian School in Carson City over the weekend. He recently spoke to KUNR’s Gustavo Sagrero about the ultramarathon at his family’s home on the Yerington Paiute Reservation.
I’m able to represent my people, and one of the best ways I know how, which is through running. So to be able to combine two things that I’m very passionate about, which is running and activism for my people, I’m able to really make a difference and an impact in a way that I could see, in a way that other people can understand, and in a way that I feel like is reaching a lot of people’s hearts, which is ultimately what the goal is.Yerington teen and family organized run to remember survivors, victims of Indian boarding schools By Gustavo Sagrero, KUNR Public Radio, August 17, 2022
Sagrero: The trauma of Indian boarding schools is just starting to get the national attention it deserves. What do you wish people understood more about this history?
Stevens: You were almost like … you were sent there to die. You know, the Native American in you was supposed to be killed or yourself; if you couldn’t conform to modern society, then you would die. These schools were built with graveyards in mind. They were built with the thought of having a cemetery on campus because they knew that kids would die. That’s not a school; that’s like a camp.
Sagrero: When you say camp, what do you mean?
Stevens: Like Nazi Germany, man. The roads and the building blocks that it took to make America what it is today are filled with the blood and bones of my people. And people need to understand that.Yerington teen and family organized run to remember survivors, victims of Indian boarding schools By Gustavo Sagrero, KUNR Public Radio, August 17, 2022
I relate to this story for several reasons. I, too, have always been a runner. I was on the track team in Junior High School, with one school record (OK, it was for the 440 yd relay). And at the Quaker boarding high school I attended, Scattergood Friends School, a few of us ran instead of playing soccer. We ran a path of gravel roads for five miles. I apologize for the description of Scattergood as a boarding school. Much different from the Indian boarding schools.
The reason running was activism for me is because that was one of my main modes of transportation, because I refused to own a car for environmental and spiritual reasons.
Most of these photos were taken during the Indianapolis 500 Mini Marathon. Mini means half-marathon, which is 13.1 miles. Which didn’t seem very “mini” to me. The Mini was part of the festivities each May related to the running of the Indianapolis 500 (auto) race. I ran the race every year for twenty-three years. I realize the irony of running being related to race cars.