The first Native American Spiritual Marathon was started in June, 1978 by Dennis
Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement. The run was held to commemorate the Longest Walk, in which over 500 North American tribes agreed to walk from San Francisco to Washington D.C. to show the dismal plight of native people and lobby for the Native American Freedom of Religious Act. The U.S.Congress ratified the act that year and the Sundance Ceremony was brought to D.Q. University in California. In 1980 Dennis Banks had to leave the state of California, and he entrusted responsibility of the runs to Bill "Mosco" Ramos. The runs have been held annually ever
since, following the tradition of early Native American runners who ran between villages and distant tribes. The main purpose is to carry the message of the sacredness of all life, our relationship to all living species, and of the need to maintain the delicate balance that exists between humankind and our Mother Earth.
The original teams
American Indian Center of
San Francisco, CA
Aztlan Track Club of Los Angeles, CA
Aztlan Track Club of San
Bay Area Roadrunners (Intertribal Friendship House) of Oakland, CA
Bridgeport Indian Reservation, CA
David Chief's Runners, Winters, CA
De O'Campo Clan, Vallejo, CA
D.Q. University, Davis, CA
Four Winds Lodge Runners
of San Jose, CA
Mosquitos Club of San Jose, CA
Paiute Runners of Oakland, CA
San Jose State University, CA
San Diego Hopkins Clan, CA
T.E.N.A. Council, Hollister, CA
Three Rivers Lodge, Manteca, CA
We would like to acknowledge and keep alive the names of the original leaders of these
spiritual clans who did what most would think impossible under harsh conditions.
They taught generations to carry on the rituals and ceremonies to preserve Mother Earth.
We offer our humble prayers of thanks to Dennis Banks, Fred Short, Maggie and Wounded Knee De
O'Campo, Jackie Blossom, David Chief, Elmira White, Darrell Standing Elk, Frank Lebeau, Glen Hing, Debbie Murrillo, Bill "Mosco" Ramos, Ralph Charlie, Alan Levanthal, Shirley Hopkins, Chemo Candelaria, Tom Phillips, Charlotte & Richard Baker, Mildred Hawkins, Grandpa Shorty Stone, Shorty & Carol Stone, Emma Stone, Arturo Rodriguez, Rudy Delgado, Danny Romero, Monica Parra, Cesar & Helen Chavez, Paul Chavez, and Joey & Cecilia Silvas.
In the beginning Dennis Banks, co-founder of the American Indian Movement and Cesar Chavez, founder of the United Farm Workers, joined hands and agreed that La Paz, a peace compound outside of Bakersfield and now the resting
place of Cesar, would host the 500-Mile Run along with the historical first Indian university west of the Mississippi River, D.Q. University in Davis, CA. Dennis was D.Q.'s first president.
From 1978 until 1984 there were usually about 15 teams participating as separate entries. Over time, it became difficult economically for separate teams to sponsor themselves. So it was agreed that different members could run under one flag on one main team. Then members are divided into units of 10-12 runners. Each team carries a sacred staff.
After 1984 the 500 Mile team added Three Rivers Recovery Lodge in Manteca and the Mosquito Club in Ripon as ending destinations during different years. La Paz has always remained the starting honor spot to begin the 500 Mile Marathon Relay.
For the last seven years there has been a northern route and the initial southern route. The northern route now starts at Pitt River Nation near Burney, CA and completes the run at the Rumsey Rancheria.
Without our friends and honor spots along the way we could not accomplish our mission. These sites and community treasures include:
United Farm Workers,
Mosquito Club, Ripon, CA
Three Rivers Lodge, Manteca, CA
Elam Reservation, Clearlake, CA
Pitt River Reservation