Sacred Hoop Run Reconnects Lakota Youth To Culture

Jun 24, 2016

The Sacred Hoop Run takes participants on a 500-mile journey around the Black Hills.
Credit Wikipedia File Photo
Lakota youth are taking part in the 500-Mile Sacred Hoop Run around the Black Hills this week. The annual event aims to reconnect the youth with their culture, land and history. We caught up with runners on a windy road in Wyoming and filed this report.

After camping at Bear Butte on Father’s Day, 60 runners began their 6-day journey around the Black Hills via Box Elder, Scenic and through the Pine Ridge Reservation. The group stayed overnight at Fort Robinson, Nebraska before continuing on toward Lusk, Wyoming and then across the state to Devil’s Tower.

Ricky Gray Grass is the event coordinator.

Bear Butte, S.D. is where the Sacred Hoop Run begins and ends.
Credit Courtesy Jerrye & Roy Klotz MD

“Sacred Hoop started when a group of individuals came together to protect and preserve the Black Hills,” explains Gray Grass. “And keep awareness alive of the treaty with the United States government on our timber rights, our water rights, our mineral rights and just the treaty overall.”

Gray Grass says over the years the Sacred Hoop Run has evolved into a way to educate Lakota youth about their history and traditions and to help combat drug and alcohol abuse.

“The youth that are running are running for their families,” Gray Grass observes. “The majority of the youth that come on the run are from broken homes affected by alcohol, drugs, meth, inhalants, pills…whatever. And so they come and pray for their families. For a better family. For Mom and Dad…to be sober. To have their Grandma and Grandpa…stick around a little bit longer.”

Lakota youth hit the road in Wyoming as they continue their journey on the 500-mile Sacred Hoop Run.
Credit Courtesy Ricky Gray Grass

Seventeen-year old Cheyenne has been part of the Sacred Hoop Run since she was 9.

“We’re not just running just to run,” she remarks. “We’re running for a purpose. To keep the alcoholism…meth and all the drugs off our reservation.”

Ricky Gray Grass says running in the recent heat has been a struggle, but the adult chaperones are keeping the runners well-hydrated and they’re doing fine.

The Sacred Hoop Run ends on Saturday at Bear Butte with a prayer for all those who took part and for the Lakota people. 

** The Sacred Hoop Run is sponsored by The Mitakupi Foundation