On Sunday July 18, twenty-four runners will begin a relay from Mobridge, through SouthDakota and Wisconsin, ending in Minnesota at a water protector camp near the Enbridge Line 3 pipeline near Perch Lake Township.
The runners will depart around 9:00 am near the drive-in movie theater and all are welcome to come see them off. Donations of supplies, snacks, water, food and cards for gas are welcomes and encouraged.
Organizer Monty Brown says the purpose of the run is to bring healing and to run in prayer in solidarity with the relatives at Line 3.
Brown is one of the original runners who left from Standing Rock and ran to Washington, DC; an act which kicked off the Standing Rock water protector movement in 2016 and 2017.
The runners are members of Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, and Lower Brule. As of this writing, 24 runners are confirmed, with many more coming along to assist along the journey. The runners range in age from 17 and 18, mostly juniors and seniors in high school. Some of the mentors are 25 to 30 years old.
The route starts in Mobridge, goes to Aberdeen, and then works its way through the Sisseson Whapeton reservation. The first stop is at Red Lake reservation. From there, the runners will have various stops and be hosted by groups and families along the way.
Brown sees so much potential and growth in the youth undertaking this run. “It’s definitely an empowering situation to be empowering prayer and to see how youth lead. As a mentor, it’s my job and responsibility to put them in positions where they can find success and growth. More importantly, a lot of them have taken different roles within the youth group and it’s just good to see a lot of them come into their own roles as being a mentor to someone younger.”
Brown continues, “The running is part of it, but speaking is as well. And being able to connect with other youth in different areas is a very powerful thing because the youth are going to be the leaders someday and it’s on us to open up the spaces for them.”
The runners will cover about 1,100 miles total. Running four miles at a stretch.
A jingle dress group is traveling with the runners to raise awareness for MMIW. Says Brown, “The jingle dress dance has always been a healing dance for a lot of indigenous folks. So what they do is they travel in different communities, different areas’ reservations, and share their message of awareness; but also more importantly — healing. So the goal is to arrive at each staff and to arrive with prayer, but also have the jingles dancers dance for them.”