Diné woman leads 360 mile run to raise awareness

SALT LAKE CITY — A 360-mile run to raise awareness on multiple issues impacting Indigenous people was scheduled to end at the Utah State Capitol on Monday, August 26, the week of the United Nations Civility Conference in Salt Lake City.

It began on August 13. Davina Smith, a Diné mother of 4 and the executive director of the SLC Air Protectors, set out from Bears Ears National Monument with a sacred medicine bundle to run to Utah’s state capitol to call attention to a range of issues of concern to the indigenous people of Utah and beyond.

Momentum has been building steadily, as Smith has been joined by other runners and volunteers along the way. The runners will make several stops in the Salt Lake Valley this Monday, August 26, culminating in a prayerful gathering at the State Capitol which culminated in the evening.

Runners alongside Davina have included youths and senior citizens as well as young children. Very few are experienced runners but the reason why they’re running is the same, they mention the shrinking of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments, contamination from uranium mining, air pollution, the destruction of the Amazon rain forest, the Utah Inland Port and environmental justice.

Originally from Monument Valley, Smith said she herself running to bring awareness to other inclusive issues such as Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women, family separation at the U.S. border, the Mauna Kea conflict, and environmental racism.

According to their Facebook page, the SLC Air Protectors is a ‘Native American-led nonprofit organization that was inspired by Standing Rock to improve air quality, protect the natural environment and support Native American stewardship in Utah through inclusive grassroots organizing.’

Smith is expected to arrive at the Utah State Capitol on Monday. SLC Air Protectors will hold a press conference with speakers at 6:00 p.m..

This week’s United Nations Conference in Salt Lake City was said to have kindled several local youths’ excitement to enter the global conversation around sustainability and interact with those of different cultures.

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