On Aug. 27, about 20 runners with Latin American indigenous group Peace and Dignity Journeys made their way from Long Beach to the La Colonia neighborhood in Anaheim, making a brief stop on the Anna Drive where the police shooting of Manuel Diaz set off several days of civil unrest throughout the city.
The journeys occur every four years and start with indigenous runners on opposite ends of the continents - one in Alaska and the other in Argentina. They run for six months through hundreds of indigenous communities where they participate in their respective spiritual practices and traditions.Peace and Dignity Journeys
are based on a Latin American indigenous prophecy concerning the birds of the North (eagle) and the South (condor). The prophecy is that all indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere will be spiritually reunited in order to heal their nations. The runners from the North and South will be meeting in Guatemala
later this year.
Michelle Castillo Garcia, one of the organizers for the Orange County leg of the run, said the recently embatttled Anna Drive was a crucial stop, as it is pertinent to the healing concept of the run. The community had reached out before to Peace and Dignity journeys for spiritual guidance, she said, in part due to the traumatization the children in the community had experienced last month.
"Those kids are the ones who saw everything happen," Garcia says, referring to the children witnessing the police shooting of Diaz and the subsequent firing of less-than-lethal tactical weapons on residents. "They are the ones who are going to grow up being scared of the police. We really need to try to heal these communities because these children will grow up to be adults and be afraid of authority figures."
San Francisco resident Sarah Nieto traveled to Alaska to start the route from Chickaloon into British Columbia and the Yukon River. The former Orange County resident and schoolteacher was entralled by runners coming into her community four years ago, and wanted to travel with the runners as a way to "let go" of the comforts of modern society.
"I've been able to spend a lot of time walking on the actual land of this earth and living with the elements," she said. "We run in the rain, snow, in the heat during the morning and night. We run with the bears--there were tons of bears in British Columbia--and we were greeted by dolphins in Santa Cruz. I've learned a greater appreciation for life...this is my way of healing and reconnecting with myself."
The next stop for the runners is Temecula at the Indian reservations near Pechanga.