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Annual Unity Run brings 20-year tradition and prayers among Tohono O’odham Communities

Annual Unity Run brings 20-year tradition and prayers among Tohono O’odham Communities

The Annual Unity Run of the four Tohono O’odham tribes arrived in the Ak-Chin Indian Community on Monday, March 18th. The tribes established this event to help preserve, strengthen, and offer prayers for their respective nations. The Unity Run has taken place for more than 20 years and travels through multiple communities over several days.

Annual Unity Run brings 20-year tradition and prayers among Tohono O’odham Communities

Photo courtesy of the Ak-Chin O’odham Runner newspaper

Over 100 runners came from the Gila River, Salt River, and Tohono O’odham nations to participate. The event started at Red Mountain within the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community on Sunday, March 16th. Members of all the local communities were thrilled at the sight of hundreds of runners coming through the area. Signs and well-wishers lined the street and cheered the runners, and drivers honked their horns in support.

Annual Unity Run brings 20-year tradition and prayers among Tohono O’odham Communities

Photo courtesy of the Ak-Chin O’odham Runner newspaper

Within the Ak-Chin Indian Community, the group ran on Farrell Road. One runner  carried the tradition staff, ran across State Route 347 on Farrell Road that afternoon, according to an article in the Ak-Chin O’odham Runner newspaper. Ak-Chin Indian Community Council, Vice Chairman Gabriel Lopez, accompanied them on horseback, while more runners met them by the Ak-Chin Youth Council office to hand off the staff, which was carried over to the Ak-Chin Fire Department.

Annual Unity Run brings 20-year tradition and prayers among Tohono O’odham Communities

The runners led participants and observers to Milton Paul Antone Memorial Park. There, the group was formally welcomed by Ak-Chin Indian Community Council, Vice-Chairman Gabriel Lopez, Ak-Chin Indian Community Council Member Delia Antone and community member Yolanda Miranda.  After the welcome, runners and event supporters enjoyed dinner in the Ak-Chin Recreation Center gym and had breakfast the next day before runners continued their journey south.

The runners continued south through the Tohono O’odham Nation and finished their journey in Waw Giwulk, known as a sacred site and was once known as the epicenter land historically inhabited by the O’odoham.

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Carolyn Sostrom is a long-time Arizona resident who loves desert sunsets, warm weather and zumba. As a writer, she’s covered technology, medical and travel topics.

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