Monday, September 23, 2013

Lakota Runner, Highway 83 Resident to Tackle New York City Marathon


Travelers on Highway 83 stopping at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center at Washburn, North Dakota, over the years may have met Jeffrey Turning Heart Jr., who is a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. 
Born and raised in Eagle Butte, South Dakota, he ran track and cross country at the University of Mary in Bismarck, while working as an interpreter at the center. After graduating from Minot State University with a history degree, he moved full-time to Washburn. He has left that job, but remains in the town and now works with local law enforcement.

Today, you are more likely to spot him running along the local roads. Turning Heart, age 30, is a member of the Lakota 5, a running group that is making a second attempt to complete the New York City Marathon in November after its abrupt cancellation in 2012 because of Hurricane Sandy.

Turning Heart told the Highway 83 Chronicle blog a bit about his life now and running along the route.

SM We first met when you were working at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center in Washburn. How long did you work there, and what did that experience teach you?
JTH I worked at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and Fort Mandan for almost eight years. The experience taught me how to be more vocal and learned how to speak in front of the public.

SM I imagine you met a lot of visitors over the years who had never met an Native American? Was it difficult fielding all their questions?
JTH At times, it was difficult to answer all the questions because even though it seemed like an honor to be asked questions by those who are curious of my culture, it was difficult because I felt like a sideshow act in a circus.

SM After leaving that job, you decided to remain in Washburn. Why do you like living there?
JTH When I was let go from my job as an interpreter, I remained in Washburn because of the people I grew to know and respect. My friends who became like family kept me in Washburn. I enjoy living in Washburn because of the friends I have made and I love running by the Missouri River.

SM How long have you been running marathons, how many have you completed? And more importantly, what is it about the sport that you love?
JTH I haven’t been running marathons too long. The New York City Marathon was going to be my first but not my last. I have always wanted to try a marathon. I have completed four half-marathons in a course of one year. The sport of running is something I grew to love for over 18 years because of the feeling. I could have the worst day on the planet but once I start to run, I am free from it all. And I love hearing my heart beat as it reminds me of a drum at a powwow. It is something I cannot put into words because as a runner, we all have a different reason why we do what we do.

SM What keeps you motivated through all the injuries, the cold and hot weather the High Plains are known for, and the long distances?
JTH The thing that keeps me motivated through all my injuries is the people. The people I have run for in a total of 17 races in one year are my motivation and my inspiration. The people I run for is not only organizations but the people that I have known that go through a lot, whether it is breast cancer, cystic fibrosis, cerebral palsy or suicide prevention. The people have a special place in my heart and my heart keeps me motivated to keep on running.

SM Do you have any interesting stories about running along Highway 83 that you can share? Or do you try to stay off the busy highways?
JTH I rarely run along the highways because of the traffic but I love running across Highway 200A which connects to Highway 83 because I get to run across a bridge that goes over the Missouri River. It is like running across a beautiful painting of North Dakota’s beauty.

SM Last year, you traveled all the way from Washburn to run in the New York City Marathon with a group of Lakota runners, but when you arrived it was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. How did you deal with the disappointment?
JTH We all dealt with the disappointment just like anyone else would, all the months of preparation and the travels but that soon faded away because our main question when we arrived in New York City was “How can we help?” Our team (One Spirit) used our common passion to help those in need by going to Staten Island to help clear rubble and we were honored to be able to help out.

SM What are your plans for this year? I know you have been dealing with some injuries. Are you going to try again?
JTH My plan is get back into running, through my horrible knee injury and to reunite with my teammates in New York City to finish what we had started, to run 26.2 miles to inspire the Lakota youth and many who have been watching us.

SM What is the group you are running with, and how can readers of this blog help?
JTH The group I have been running with is called Team One Spirit and we are also called, The Lakota 5. Our organization is Native Progress and the readers of this blog can help by checking out our website, and our goal, which is to raise funds for a youth center in Allen, South Dakota on the Pine Ridge Reservation, to help keep our youth active and away from drugs, alcohol, and many other situations that plague the reservation.

To contribute, click here: http://www.crowdrise.com/onespiritnyc2013/fundraiser/onespirit

To join the Fans of U.S. Route 83 group on Facebook, CLICK HERE. And check out the U.S. Route 83 Travel page at www.usroute83.com.

Stew Magnuson (stewmag (a) yahoo.com) is the author of Wounded Knee 1973: Still Bleeding: The American Indian Movement, the FBI, and their Fight to Bury the Sins of the Past published by the Now & Then Reader. It is available as an eBook on Kindle, Nook, Kobo and iTunes. Buy it in paperback on Amazon or bookstores such as Plains Trading Company Booksellers, in Valentine, Neb., on Highway 83.  

AND NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.COM:
 
Click here to order: THE LAST AMERICAN HIGHWAY: A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME DOWN U.S. ROUTE 83: THE DAKOTAS

2 comments:

  1. THE OGLALA SIOUX RUNNER
    (For the Lakota people and the five marathoners
    of One Spirit Runners)

    When I run I sometimes think of Crazy Horse,
    That “Shirt Wearer” who was not afraid to run courageously, with a yellow lightning streak
    on his face, bringing fear
    to an enemy, Blue shirt or brave.
    Of those who are proud enough to run
    at Pine Ridge, there is greatness
    among the rolling mixed grass prairie,
    Where the wind blows sand forming dunes.
    There the vision of pines, cedar trees
    and horses running along the White River, That is the Lakota shield.

    Luis Lázaro Tijerina, Burlington, Vermont

    ReplyDelete
  2. THE OGLALA SIOUX RUNNER
    (For the Lakota people and the five marathoners
    of One Spirit Runners)

    When I run I sometimes think of Crazy Horse,
    That “Shirt Wearer” who was not afraid to run courageously, with a yellow lightning streak
    on his face, bringing fear
    to an enemy, Blue shirt or brave.
    Of those who are proud enough to run
    at Pine Ridge, there is greatness
    among the rolling mixed grass prairie,
    Where the wind blows sand forming dunes.
    There the vision of pines, cedar trees
    and horses running along the White River, That is the Lakota shield.

    Luis Lázaro Tijerina, Burlington, Vermont

    ReplyDelete