Runners Amplify the Indigenous Experience with Truthsgiving 4 Miler


On Thursday, November 24, tens of thousands of people will lace up for their local turkey trot. In most cases, these races portray the positive side of the Thanksgiving story while neglecting the tragic Native experience surrounding the holiday. Over the past three years, a group of Indigenous runners have sought to change that.

From November 24 to November 27, rising hearts—a local Indigenous-led organization—will host the third 4 Miler Truth Action. The race was created to honor Native history, foster covenants, and share the true story of Thanksgiving during Native American Heritage Month.

Over the past two years, Rising Hearts has partnered with ReNew Earth runninga non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the lands of Indigenous communities, donating proceeds from the race to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the group that made first contact with English settlers and now call Massachusetts home and eastern Rhode Island for over 12,000 years.

The Truthsgiving 4 Miler was born out of a virtual race during the height of the pandemic in 2020 and has since grown to four in-person races. For the first time ever, races will be held in St. Paul, Minnesota (11/24), Harrisonburg, Virginia (11/24), Washington DC (11/26) and Los Angeles, California (11/26) this year. .

By hosting the Truthsgiving 4 Miler on Thanksgiving weekend, Rising Hearts founder Jordan Marie brings three white horses, Daniel hopes to encourage runners to be open to a new perspective on the holiday. “We’re not trying to deter people or turn them away by saying you can’t do it,” Daniel said. Women’s running. “It’s about reframing your opinion and reframing the language around it, which is why we call it Truthsgiving and not Thanksgiving. We want people to understand the real story.

What Thanksgiving Means to Indigenous Peoples

Generations of children in American schools have been educated on the positive version of Thanksgiving Story in which Plymouth settlers and the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe shared one of the first fall harvest festivals, celebrating a 50-year covenant that began in 1621, a year after English settlers arrived in this which is now the United States.

However, for many Indigenous people, Thanksgiving is considered a day of mourning and protest. As an Indigenous non-profit organization native hope shared, the day commemorates the arrival of settlers in North America and the centuries of oppression, land theft and genocide that followed for Indigenous communities.

“Very few teachers have the chance to tell students about the massacres of indigenous tribes like the Pequot that took place in the years that followed. Nor do they mention that English settlers robbed Wampanoag graves and stole food from them in order to survive their early years on this new continent,” Native Hope organizers wrote in a statement. blog post.

As people across the United States celebrate the holiday with turkey and pie, many Indigenous communities are leading protests. In 1970 the United American Indians of New England named the fourth Thursday in November the National Day of Mourning for Native Americans and their allies. Every year, people gather at Cole’s Hill in Plymouth, Massachusetts, for a Thanksgiving rally.

How runners can be better allies

In the running community, many start Thanksgiving with a turkey trot in the morning. As The runner’s world reported in 2021, it’s America’s most popular and oldest continuous running race. And the number of participants continues to grow with the exception of pandemic cancellations. According Run in the United Statesmore than 961,882 people completed a trot in 2016, compared to 684,334 in 2011.

By hosting the Truthsgiving 4 Miler, race organizers hope to encourage runners to be more mindful this holiday season and throughout the year. “We should be grateful for the food we eat, the roofs over our heads and the gift of running. But Thanksgiving has a heavy weight. It’s something we passively accept like turkey and football, but it’s so much more than that,” said Michael Harralson, Founder of ReNew Earth Running. Women’s running. “In my opinion, we need to remember the historical background of the holiday, and if we want to holiday about it, it needs to be truthful.”

Harralson and the ReNew Earth Running team will host one of four in-person races this year at Pike Island, located on the section of the Mississippi River that runs through St. Paul, Minnesota. “Wherever we are on Indigenous land, there are truths to be told. The race sheds some truths about the Thanksgiving holiday, but we’re going to get some truths about where we’re hosting our event,” Harralson says, explaining that the pike island history includes the story of the creation of the Dakota people as well as the tragic war between the United States and the Dakotas of 1862, after which more than a thousand Dakotas were forced into confinement.

An opportunity to create a community

Those who sign up for the Truthsgiving 4 Miler are encouraged to dig deeper in Indigenous history and supporting Indigenous communities throughout the year action steps, including shopping for Natives, reading books by Native authors, donating to Native organizations, and “decolonizing” the Thanksgiving plate by preparing Native cuisine, among other recommendations shared by the organizers of the race before the event. They also want to make the race accessible with a reasonable price (between $25 and $30) and by offering the possibility for people to sponsor the participation of other runners.

Daniel says the response to the race has been positive with a few exceptions. In her first year, some had negative reactions to the concept of sharing the real story behind the vacation, but they’ve become less vocal in recent years, she says. Many reached out with their own positive racing experiences or shared their efforts to start conversations about Truthsgiving at the dinner table. So far, race organizers have raised around $10,000 a year for the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, in an effort to support a group whose experience needs to be shared.

“The biggest thing that harms Indigenous people in our communities is the constant erasure, stereotyping, racism and invisibility that we experience,” says Daniel. “This race is an opportunity to present the real story, for people to have a better sense of who we are beyond racism and stereotypes, and to truly be in community together.”

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