October 23, 2021

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Secretary Deb Haaland competing in the Boston Marathon is about much more than the winner’s podium

In her essay, Haaland shares that she’s been a runner for about two decades. Boston is her first marathon, and she writes that she found herself reflecting on the role running played in Indigenous communities across the nation. Haaland describes runners in the high desert alerting one another to spring floods, to spread news, and to save lives during colonization.

“Traditional foot races in our Pueblo villages honor those who were strong and fast,” Haaland writes. “I run because my ancestors gave me this ability.”

Haaland also uses the the publication as an opportunity to reiterate her overall message and goal in holding office: attention and action to bring justice to missing and murdered Indigenous folks. 

“On this special day,” Haaland writes in part, “I will run for missing and murdered Indigenous peoples and their families, the victims of Indian boarding schools, and the promise that our voices are being heard and will have a part in an equitable and just future in this new era.”

In the big picture, President Joe Biden actually became the first president to officially recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day. In a statement issued on Friday, Biden acknowledged: “Federal policies systematically sought to assimilate and displace Native people and eradicate Native culture” and vowed for a better future for Indigenous peoples. 

Unfortunately, many places still insist on celebrating Columbus Day—likely because it is, technically, still a federal holiday—though as time passes, more and more places are honoring Indigenous folks instead. It’s happening in Hawaii; Virginia; Minnesota; Michigan; Wisconsin; Washington, D.C.; Louisiana; Texas; Arizona; Oregon; and others, for example.

And for a bit of inspiration, Haaland was photographed while running—she somehow manages to have a smile on her face even at mile 17!

You can check out a video interview Daily Kos did with Haaland on how to make sure you’re being an effective ally to Native folks here

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