By Mikayla Schaaf Inaajimowin Guest Writer
Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe participants were proud and hon- ored to run in solidarity with other Ojibwe tribes for the first time in the history of the Healing Circle Run, an annual tradition for the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC).
This year, members of Ojibwe tribes from Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin set out on a weeklong healing journey starting at Lac Courte Oreilles reservation, heading east for a 700-mile loop.
On Thursday, July 19, Mille Lacs runners finished the last leg through the Hinckley/Aazhoomog area, where participants stopped in for a meal provided by Mike Christensen Catering and a ceremony at the Meshakwad Center in Hinckley.
The Healing Circle Run has been going for over 30 years. Originally called “the peace and solidarity relay,” the run came about because of tensions that were rising during the aftermath of treaty rights reaffirmation. At that time, violent protests were directed towards tribal members exercising their treaty rights off reservation, and fear for safety was a major concern. In response to these protests, Ojibwe tribes sought out to break down barriers and spread peace and wellbeing throughout communities through the “solidarity relay.”
Mille Lacs became involved when Brad Harrington attended a meeting with GLIFWC and agreed to participate; he hit the ground running to organize runners in the community to make it happen. Dylan Jennings, a member of the Bad River Ojibwe of Wisconsin, has been collaborating with Brad on the run. “As the next generation, it is our responsibility to keep it going,” said Dylan. “In order for healing to occur, healing must start within an individual, and from there a group can heal, and eventually healing will spread to a community.”