The Peace and Dignity Journeys are coming to Texas! Since 1992, indigenous and first nations peoples have come together in an intercontinental prayer run that unites North and South America. Every four years, these Peace and Dignity Journeys are dedicated to different elements of nature.
Today we are pleased to have Vanessa Quezada join us to discuss the Peace and Dignity Journeys and its importance to Texas.
What is your name, how you identify and where you’re at/from?
Vanessa Quezada, Kickapoo/Mexica/Spanish from San Antonio, Texas.
What is your position?
Coordinator of Midwestern Route from Alaska to Panama.
What are the Peace and Dignity journeys? What is this year’s run dedicated to?
PDJ was birthed as a spiritual movement of indigenous grandmothers and grandfathers across the Americas to fulfill the prophesy of the encounter of the eagle and the condor to bring our people together and unite as one. The elders remind us, “We are like a body that was broken up into pieces and this body will come back together to be whole again”. PDJ is a recurring prayer run from Alaska and Argentina that meets in the middle every 4 years with different themes. 1992 was dedicated to elders, in 1996 children, 2000 for family, 2004 for women, 2008 for sacred sites, 2012 for water and the 2016 run will be for the seeds. This is much more than a run, it is a way for us to connect our hearts to each other and the land the ways our grandparents have taught us through our life ways to energize our spirits.
Historically speaking, why is the route through Texas important?
First and foremost to bring awareness that there ARE natives in Texas. In fact, genetic testing shows that many who identify as “Mexican American” are actually Native.
Second, Texas’ genocidal history. In 1838 Mirabeau Lamar decreed it illegal for any Indians to remain in Texas. Violence and torture of native peoples reigned for years in the colonial missions which are now being celebrated as world heritage sites and are major tourist attractions. We are living a colonial legacy on these lands where 95 percent of the land in Texas is privately owned. Nine ranches own 37 percent of the land – an area larger than all but eight states. It is time for us to reclaim our connection to the land.
Third, we live on medicine lands. For hundreds of years, people pilgrimage to pay respects to and collect peyote. These lands have, and continue to be central for all types of trade and commerce.
Unfortunately, this commerce has become heavily focused on extraction. These lands continue to have extreme violence directed at our people and our mother by way of artificial borders, detention centers, fracking, mining, and pipelines. Texas is home to some of the most environmentally destructive practices and San Antonio is ranked number one in wealth disparity, showing us life is not a priority for business and “growth”.
Who is involved?
Indigenous/First Nation communities are involved from Alaska to Argentina. In Texas, we have had support from the Carrizo ComeCrudo, Coahuiltecan, Kickapoo, Lipan Apache, Mascalero Apache, Navajo, Ponca, Lakota and Mexica peoples. Different kalpullis and spiritual communities have also supported.
Why should the public support this run?
Spend one day on the run! The elders say, “the medicine you need comes to you”. This run brings our communities together to unite for a common intention: the seeds. The seeds are our lifeways, our culture, our food, our medicine, our children, our persistence on this earth. When people gather for a common good we bring healing to ourselves, these lands and all of creation. Living our lifeways brings us back into balance.
How can the public can support this run?
Join us for our organizing and fundraising events coming up in San Antonio: Profit Share at Viva Vegeria (1422 Nogalitos, San Antonio TX 78204) on Tuesday, May 3 from 11am to 9pm!
Donations are much needed and greatly appreciated. We are in need of 4 vans for the routes and at least $25,000 to start the run in Alaska. Communities, medicine people, traditional knowledge keepers and hosts are needed all along the way who support with housing, food, and donations such as tennis shoes, socks, snacks, massage and healing treatments, assistance to organize and fund-raise, etc;
Please contact [email protected]