Canku Ota


(Many Paths)


An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 13, 2001 - Issue 27



Cheyenne Runners End Trek


by Becky Shay of the Billings Gazette Staff


photo by Larry Mayer/Gazette Staff

Lessons of strength and unity capped the Fort Robinson Break Out Run as about 45 people finished the 400-mile event Tuesday in Busby.

Finishers included a 4-year-old and two elders, said coordinator Phillip Whiteman Jr. The group included 34 runners, ages 7 to 18, support staff and followers in a caravan.

The run started with an education day Jan. 4 in Fort Robinson, Neb. The run started Jan. 5 and concluded Tuesday with a celebration in Busby. Runners in the relay-style event carry a sacred staff from Nebraska to Montana.

The run commemorates the 1879 escape of Northern Cheyenne from barracks at Fort Robinson and the plight of those who made it to safety in Montana. Most of the Northern Cheyenne were sick, the old, women and children.

The run teaches lessons, Whiteman said, not only of the Cheyenne’s history but of a continuing need for endurance.

“Positives and negatives create opportunities,” Whiteman said. “(This teaches) to work through the adversities and don’t portray yourself as a victim.”

Whiteman said runner Josey Rising Sun, a 16-year-old who attends St. Labre school, told people at the celebration dinner that she learned of sacrifices and lives lost at Fort Robinson, but also of the importance of teamwork and attitude.

The celebration was emotional, Whiteman noted, not only because of the historical lessons, but the physical effort of running a 400-mile relay. And not all of the participants are endurance runners, he added.

“They were sore from the pounding they took on the pavement,” Whiteman said.

Among the most emotion-evoking speakers was Wambli Spotted Elk, Whiteman said. The boy’s words were few, but powerful, Whiteman explained.

“He learned that unity, and holding hands in a circle is not a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength,” Whiteman said.

Northern Cheyenne Official Site




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