Together We Run… Together We Thrive…
Every Spring Break in March, hundreds of students come out to participate in the Annual Unity Run. These students participate as representatives from the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima Maricopa Indian Community and the Tohono O’odham Nation. Students come from all four reservations and cities like Tucson, Casa Grande, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and Scottsdale. Runners have also come from as far away as California to participate in this Sacred Unity Run. Many Schools are represented as one group to complete the 300-mile journey.
The Unity Run was founded in the summer of 1995 at Bobcat Mountain Village, Tohono O’odham Nation. The purpose of this run is to unite, preserve and strengthen culture while offering prayers to heal our respective Nations. All O’odham communities from Central Arizona to Sonora, Mexico who have knowledge of our language, songs, dances and history are encouraged to participate and share with the participants of the Annual Unity Run.
Emphasized as part of this run are:
- Cultural practices dealing with health, spirituality, emotional and physical wellness
- Lessons to help strengthen youth in daily pursuits such as education, jobs, family and daily relationships
- A push to develop strong individuals that will resist against everyday challenges such as drugs, alcohol, gangs, diabetes and all other social ills
- The importance of listening to the elders, being aware of the surroundings and most of all remembering to respect each other, the land and animals
The rules on the run itself teach the youth about respect and the land: no drugs, alcohol, radios, iPods, CD/Mp3 players, electronic games, gang related attire or weapons or any other equipment that will distract participants from listening and focusing on the Himdag (Way of Life) taught by the elders and adults are allowed. All participants are responsible for their own personal items allowed on the sacred journey of UNITY.
This Year’s Unity Run began at Red Mountain and ended in Cedagi Waihia (Pozo Verde), Sonora Mexico(a village of the Tohono O’odham). The runners covered the 300 miles through a relay style run, offering prayers, blessings and learned cultural teachings along the way.
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