At a ceremony for the East Coast runners held at Riverbank Park in Manhattan, approximately 75 representatives from many Indigenous nations gathered in one circle to welcome the sacred staffs the runners will carry throughout their journey. At the ceremony led by Grupo Cetiliztli Nauhcampa Quetzalcoatl, six representatives from East Coast Native Nations offered prayers. Messages of support were also received from Tonya Frichner (Onondaga) a UN representative, and Chief Dwayne Perry (Sachem Maqua/Chief Bear) of the Ramapo Mountain Lenape Nation.
The group of runners included Elizabeth Rexford (Inuit/Alaska), Elvira Colorado (Chichimec/Otomi), Hortensia Colorado (Chichimec/Otomi), Teyekahliyos “Dagots” Edwards (Onieda), Jennie Luna (Xicana/Caxcan/Mexica) as well as two Taino community members Maximus Matos (Taino) and Rafael Landron (Taino). At sunrise on Saturday, morning June 14, representatives of the United Confederation of Taino People (UCTP) presented an additional unity staff to the group. The presentation was made by community leader Roberto Mukaro Borrero who explained that the Taino staff was a symbol of unity between the Arawak, Carib, and Taino Nations as well as a representation of the Guaraguao or Caribbean Red Tail Hawk within the Eagle and Condor prophecy.
Following the sunrise departure ceremony the group crossed the George Washington Bridge into New Jersey and made their way to Pennsylvania where they connected to Art Woolsey, PA coordinator for the Longest Walk II. Woolsey was instrumental in the logistical organizing for the runners through the state. While in Pennsylvania the group visited the grounds of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School and offered prayers at the institution’s cemetery. Over 100 indigenous children who were taken from their parents to attend the infamous boarding school died there and were interred on the grounds.
According to the East Coast Run coordinator Jeannie Luna the runners met up with the Longest Walk group in Greensburgh, PA. The two groups were able to share experiences and ceremony before the Peace and Dignity runners headed to Pittsburg where they were greeted by Taino community member Miguel Sobaoko Koromo Sague. A member of Council of Three Rivers American Indian Center – the only Native Center in all of PA - Sague along with other PA Native community members contributed supplies and extended much appreciated hospitality to the group. Sague who is also the founder of the Caney Spiritual Circle offered an additional Taino staff to join the UCTP’s prayer for Taíno unity.
Following their visit to a local Pow Wow in Farmington, PA that was held to honor the birth of a White Buffalo at a local zoo, the runners made their way to Friendsville, MD and Petersburgh, West Virginia.
The runners will also visit Washington DC plan and while in the area they plan to link up with the Haudenosaunee Spirit of the Youth Unity Run. These two groups will continue running together until July 5th when they will unite with the Trail of Tears runners in Tahlequah, Oklahoma for the closing ceremonies of the East Coast portion the route. From Oklahoma the sacred staffs will be run to Taos, New Mexico where they will join the main group making their way south.
This southern route from New Mexico will unite all runners of the East Coast Tributary and other routes and connect them to the main route, carrying all the prayers, work and energy towards Panama.