Native Tribes Participate in ‘Healing Circle Run/Walk’


Tribes from northern Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin are participating in a Healing Circle Run/Walk this week as a show of solidarity and a prayer for healing.

Leo Nordin doesn’t know much about the Healing Circle Run/Walk, but he knows it’s important to his grandfather and tribe: “All my grandpa did is told me they’re having a walk today.” The young member of the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa joined member tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission making the roughly 550-mile trek.

Red Cliff tribal member Julie Gordon says, “There are runners from each tribe in northern Wisconsin, and they go in a big circle. Some of them will go to Superior and all the way back down.” Tribal members set out from the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation in Hayward last Saturday. Gordon says the run/walk will take them west along the Lake Superior south shore this week. “Each person or group decides how far they want to go. They have these staffs here that they’ll place so that each other group knows where to start and where to end.”

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Sue Erickson with the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission says tribes first organized the event two decades ago in response to violent protests surrounding members’ rights to spear-fish off-reservation. Red Cliff tribal elder Leo LaFernier says the walk is a sign of solidarity among tribes. “We that are signatories to the treaties, in order to maintain them, we have to maintain the regulatory end of it very much, so that we’re not subject to losing those treaties which are very dear to us. When we do these things together in a spiritual and a good way, it keeps us together.”

The Healing Circle Run/Walk ends Friday when tribal members return to the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation.