they are 11 years old, some might think that Jonathan American Horse,
Keynen Red Hat and Roy Fighting Bear see their current field trip
as a good way to get out of classes. It is, they say, for reasons
other than play.
are with a group of Native American youth on the Fort Robinson Outbreak
Spiritual Run. Its a 400-mile journey from Fort Robinson,
Neb., through the Black Hills, to Busby, Mont. The 10th annual event
commemorates what some of their ancestors did in defying government
troops to survive 130 years ago.
the second time that the three have made the run, which started
Friday night at the historic cavalry outpost and is scheduled to
join them and about 130 others, Johnny Big Medicine, 18, had hitchhiked
from Montana to reach the historic forts Comanche Hall on
Friday morning.The Lame Deer High School student said he had felt
a responsibility to the runs organizers, Phillip Whiteman
Jr. and Lynette Two Bulls, to take on running duties when weather
conditions would be too much for younger runners. We run when
its too cold for the little ones, he said of other older
also felt it was something he should do for his family.
is my fourth year running. My brother got into an accident, and
I just wanted to come and run for him, Big Medicine said.
themselves and their relatives, present and past, the boys from
Lame Deer see the run as a time to remember their ancestors
sacrifice, to relive a significant part of their tribes history
and to test themselves.
guess its fun. It is like being free from school, but its
all about our culture, Jonathan said of why he participates.
try to think of my ancestors, and what they had survived,
Keynen said of his turn to run.
years runners, in keeping with the historic record, broke
out of the forts old barracks about 10:30 p.m. Friday into
the raw winter wind to run by moonlight for the first 15 miles.
relay style, runners position themselves along U.S. Highway 385
about 100 feet apart as runners sprinted along the shoulder of the
road, passing off a staff to the next group of runners. A half-dozen
vans and school bus carried the runners along the route, picking
up the sprinters and dropping off the new runners along the route.
said that volunteers have helped with feeding the participants,
fueling the vans and keeping the show on the road. The traveling
group includes speakers who talk about their great-grandparents
as part of the educational portion of the journey.
the caravan are two Kansas historians documenting the journey. Jim
Leiker, history professor of Johnson County Community College at
Overland Park, Kan., and Ramon Powers, retired director of the Kansas
State Historical Society, are documenting the runs cultural
said because of treaty terms negotiated between the U.S. government
and the Sioux, the Northern Cheyenne had been sent to Indian Territory
in Oklahoma. Two-thirds of the tribe decided to stay, but the rest
wanted to return to their northern hunting grounds and resume their
way of life.
through misinformation by interpreters or outright lying by the
government, the people of Dull Knife and Little Wolf believed they
could return to Montana at any time. They set off, but soon the
military was in pursuit, he said.
reaching Fort Robinson, Dull Knifes group was ordered back
stance was, Well die before we go back, Leiker
fleeing the barracks on Jan. 9, 1879, 63 Cheyenne were wounded or
killed by soldiers. A few managed to escape to Pine Ridge, where
they lived with Red Clouds people. An estimated 38 Cheyenne
began the last leg of their flight to their Montana homeland and
freedom. Little Wolfs group successfully made it into the
Montana, he said.
Wolf and Dull Knife, who died in 1883, are buried at Lame Deer.