On June 18 the Jim Thorpe Native American 5K National Championship and community run took place in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The championship was comprised of runners from Canada as well as America, and included many former Haskell Indian Junior College track and field and cross country runners. The event was hosted by the Native American Sports Warriors Track Club and Native Re-Vision. The former is a running club that promotes athletic excellence as a way of maintaining a healthy mind and body and is focused on reaching out to American Indian communities across the country. The latter is a national non-profit whose mission is to “guide American Indian student athletes in identifying their unique talents, set goals, and achieve their dreams,” according to a press release issued by Mike Daney, the race director.
Over 45 tribes from across the US and Canada competed in the event. Andy Yazzie, Navajo, was the winner for the men, and repeat champion Tana Kaskalla, Zuni Pueblo, won for the women.
A major highlight of the event was the presentation of the Jim Thorpe Award to Gerald Tuckwin, Prairie Band Potawatomi, and his wife Terry. Tuckwin is a former educator, coach and athletic director at Haskell Indian Junior College/Nations University. Terry provided guidance and support to hundreds of Haskell student during his tenure there. There in support of the Tuckwin were more than 40 former track athletes’. “The Jim Thorpe award is given to those individuals who have dedicated their lives to promoting health, fitness, education, sports/athletics, and healthy lifestyles among Native communities. This year’s event showed a 20% increase with over 230 participants in four events. There was also a traditional pueblo throw for all the participants,” the press release stated.
Proceeds from the race go towards funding the Sports Warriors Track Club so they can compete at sanctioned USATF National Championship races. For more information about the Sports Warriors Track Club and the 2012 Native American 5k national Championship, please contact SportsWarriorsTC@aol.com