Thursday, May 22, 2008

Indigenous Native American Running: Support Navajo Runners

Emerging Indigenous Navajo Nation elite runners in the 20th and 21st century, who have gained significant status as track and distance runners, have faced different hurdles when compared to their running counterparts. For most indigenous Native Americans the concept of standing out individually can be at odds with Native American culture, which traditionally promotes commitment to family and community. As such, they have faced many difficult internal and external challenges as they strive to become elite runners in the larger world.

At the college athletics level, individual achievement is encouraged and rewarded. This sometimes aggressive and individualistic view can often hinder the advancement of indigenous Native American athletes who come from a different cultural perspective. Of the many Native American tribes in North American, the Navajo Nation is the largest with over 11 million acres and almost 400,000 tribal members. It is here that the Nideiltihi Navajo Elite Runners organization plays an important role.

The Nideiltihi Navajo Elite Runners, Inc. is a volunteer driven nonprofit organization formed for charitable and educational purposes at the local & national level. Their mission is to promote athletic excellence, wellness, and successful life skills necessary for emerging indigenous Navajo Native American runners with whom they can guide to being competitive contenders for Olympic competition while integrating Navajo language, tradition, and cultural values.

Nideiltihi Navajo Elite Runners is dedicated to increasing the opportunities for, and the number of, emerging indigenous Navajo Native American distance runners. This is accomplished by creating a network and support of training environments and activities to produce world-class Navajo distance stars. We believe corporations, running centers, and established distance running events would feel such pride in their involvement. NNER will constantly seek overall support in the form of grants which will supplement funding for general operations, as well as grants for identification and support of additional athletes, promotion of athletes, and/or sponsor recruitment assistance.

The Need

The Navajo Nation is the largest North American tribe with over 11 million acres and almost 400,000 members. Ten of the smallest states can easily fit within the Nation Nation's boundaries. There is a great need to assist potential world-class bound Navajo runners. Our volunteer driven nonprofit organization believes an emerging elite Navajo runner in the 21st century, who has gained significant status as a track and distance runner, has faced far different hurdles than their counterparts. For most of the Navajo youth, the concept of standing out individually can be at odds with their culture, which promotes commitment to family and community. At the college athletics level, individual achievement is encouraged and rewarded. This sometimes aggressive and individualistic view can hinder their desire to train for a berth on America's Olympic team. Only 5-7% of the U.S. Olympic T Committee's revenues go directly to athletes who have already garnered elite status for training expenses.

The time is NOW to bridge that gap between major U.S. distance running events, major corporations, and athlete development organizations and the emerging indigenous Navajo Native American runner so NNER can supplement and support them by identifying such runners in order to establish the needs of identification and training.

Making a Difference

Nideiltihi Navajo Elite Runners, Inc. is seeking partnerships for the long-term development of elite indigenous Navajo Native American distance athletes, so they can compete successfully in both domestic and international competitions, including major championship events which lead to the Olympic Trials in distance events. This partnership will build upon the recent successes of Navajo distance running, while maintaining a collective commitment towards developing athletes through the next Olympiad of 2012 and beyond.

The recent successes of some Navajo long distance these athletes can emerge. While the window of opportunity to further develop Navajo long distance running athletes opens NOW, we must take steps to encourage more developing athletes into the program who have shown the most potential for developing distance stars. Get Involved!

There are five levels of Giving Opportunities, ranging from the Honorable Mention level of $25 to $50 to the Platinum Level of more than $10,000. Other levels include Gold ($1,001 to $10,000), Silver ($501 to $1,000), and Bronze ($51 to $100). Benefits are awarded depending upon the donation amount, and range from website recognition with links, logos, pictures, and testimonials to receiving unique posters, sweatshirts and t-shirts with the Navajo Running Prayer in English and Navajo.

Other ways to make a difference include:

Learn about the thousand year history of running among indigenous Native Americans in Peter Nabokov's excellent book: Indian Running: Native American History and Tradition.

Running Strong for American Indian Youth
: Improving Self-Esteem and the Future for Native Youth.

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Anonymous said...

The Navajo Tribe isocer 15 million acres. Ten of USA states fit inside of it. The area is so vast and has little economic resources which result in norunning water or electricity in many areas. Just trying to reach some of the talented high school graduates to tell them about our 2 yr. old grassroots organization is hard. Then finding funding is hard because the five board members live in 3 different states, work full time jobs, and then volunteer to reach out for runners and donors. Look at our website. The summer games in 2012 will see a huge resurgence of distance runners from the USA and they WILL be the very people who should be representing us in the marathon and 5 & 10K on the track!!!

Peter N. Jones said...

I agree, it would be a great day to see some Native American runners in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games. Hopefully we can make that happen.

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