STOCKTON, CA- Five runners stopped through the streets of Stockton on their way to Alaska as they participate in the Peace and Dignity Journey of 2012.
The experienced runners were joined by a group of local runners that gathered at the Plea for Peace Center on Saturday, April 21st. The local group promotes efforts to bring peace to Stockton.
They prayed to the rising sun just before starting the 10-mile course, which started on Weber St. and continued through central Stockton on Sutter Street, Center Street and Harding Way. “We are healing Stockton streets,” said one of the runners.
The Peace and Dignity Journeys started in 1992 as a way to unite and strengthen indigenous cultures; since its inception, the run occurs every four years.
This year Stockton was able to participate in the journey following the work of local nonprofit organizations GRASSROOTS and Fathers and Families of San Joaquin. The run was part of the organization’s three-day event titled “Seven Generations of Health, Healing, and Hope.”
The 2012 Journey is dedicated to emphasizing the importance and scarcity of water.
In 1992, leaders from different communities and tribes of North and South America gathered in Quito, Ecuador to prepare for the five hundredth anniversary of the “discovery of North and South America.” The founders rejected the idea of calling it a discovery, “it was an invasion,” explained experienced runner Hector Cerda as they prepared to start the run.
One of the things that came out of that gathering was this run, a run across the hemisphere,” continued Cerda, who started participating in the run in 2000. The seven-month long journey is formed by two groups starting simultaneously at both ends North and South of the continent — on the northern side is Alaska and on the southern side is Argentina. Both of the groups will come together for a final gathering in Central America, in Guatemala, later on this year
“We did not disappear; we are still here, we are still struggling against the colonization of our people, our cultures, our bodies and our spiritually,” said Cerda.
Through the 10 mile run, runners carry several sacred staffs that contain the hopes, dreams and prayers of the indigenous communities that the runners visit.