Feb 16, 2008
Our Ancestors Never Leave Us
SANTA FE, N.M. — "On a cold Saturday morning last month, 16-year-old Chantel Hunt ran across a highway onto a gravel road where the snow under her shoes packed into washboard ripples. She ran around a towering red rock butte, past two old mattresses dumped on the roadside, and into the shadow of a mesa she sometimes runs on top of.
Hunt, a high school junior and a resident of the Navajo Nation, was on a short training run for the national cross-country championships being held Saturday in San Diego. Her team, Wings of America, has risen to prominence with an unlikely collection of athletes. It is a group of American Indians from reservations around the country, and a Wings team has won a boys or a girls national title 20 times since first attending a championship meet in 1988...
The Navajo culture centers on strong women. The Navajo believe that Father Sky and Mother Earth gave birth to Changing Woman, a deity who has the power to change her age with the seasons by walking to the horizon. When a Navajo girl comes of age and has her first period, the community celebrates with a rite of passage called the Kinaalda. For four days, the girl re-enacts the role of Changing Woman, waking up before dawn and running east, toward the sunrise.
The longer a girl runs, the longer she will live." Source: NY Times