tired but happy Western Shoshone Spirit Runners plan to hold a prayer
service this morning at the gates of the Nevada Nuclear Test Site
after running and walking in a 240-mile encirclement of the most radioactive
ground in the nation.
"We are praying for the land and the people,"
said Johnnie Bobb, the Western Shoshone National Council member,
artist and spiritual leader who started the annual run around the
site's perimeter two years ago.
"Through our prayers and with the help
of other people, we will keep more nuclear waste from our lands."
The Run on Sacred Lands is designed to
bring attention to Nevada's fight against the federal government's
plan to bury high-level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain next to
the Test Site. The runners said the event also underscores the injustices
suffered by the Western Shoshone in the last 200 years.
"We are letting people know we are still
here," said Santiago Lozada of Sacramento, a member of the Battle
Mountain Shoshone band who participated in last year's run. "We
are still here, and we demand respect."
The Indian runners traveled from Warm
Springs to Mercury along the western edge of the Test Site during
the 2000 and 2001 events, and this year they ran from Warm Springs
to Mercury around the western perimeter of the site, completing
The Western Shoshone continue to claim
their ancestral lands in central Nevada, stretching from what is
now the Idaho border to the southern tip of the Silver State. The
Shoshone have been offered monetary settlements from Congress for
the government's treaty violations, but the leadership has turned
down the offers.
"This land is not for sale," Lozada said.
Rudy Luis Lozada, Santiago's brother,
said the desert run was hard but rewarding.
"It's wonderful to run and see our ancestors,
the rock people, all around," he said. "We run, pray and think.
It's a deeply spiritual thing."
The runners passed the ground where their
ancestors lived for untold generations. They said they knew they
were passing the graves of the ancient ones and that the spirits
of the departed Shoshone people were with them.
The runners stopped to plant willows carried
by support vehicles and said prayers into the planting holes. They
said they prayed for the mountains, the animals and the people,
so that the nuclear fallout does no harm to them.
Santiago Lozada said the people they have
seen on the run from passing motorists to rural residents
have been very supportive. Truckers blew their horns and
people waved from the roadside, he said.
"The Yucca Mountain issue, the nuclear
fallout from the Test Site, are not just Indian issues or white
issues," he said. "It's a cause for all people. It's poisoning the
sacred lands and poisoning the people."
The runners covered about 120 miles to
a point just south of Alamo by Tuesday night. They were expected
to arrive in Mercury, the town outside the Test Site entrance, late
This morning, they plan to be at the annual
Peace Camp near Mercury, where the Shundahai Network, a Western
Shoshone advocacy group, will welcome the runners. The network also
plans a Mother's Day Action Against Nuclear Testing on Saturday
"(This morning) we will form a morning
circle and say prayers and then talk to the guards at the Test Site
gate," said Bobb, a member of the Yomba band of Western Shoshone.
"We will tell them about the reasons for our run and about our ways.
"The guards and state troopers will warn
us about trespassing, but this is still Western Shoshone land. It
is they who are trespassing."
Sogobi Mava'a Mia 2002
(Walk On The Sacred Land)
We will be walking and running for the
Western Shoshone people for our land rights to take
back Shoshone land that our grandmothers and grandfathers once
took care of with their footsteps. Step by step they went from
place to place to hunt and gather where food was found and where
doctoring took place. Most of all, Shoshone people are buried
here, and their spirits are with us. When we pray and sing there
will be happiness, joy and love in our hearts as we stand strong
for our ancestors.