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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


February 9, 2002 - Issue 54


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Wings of America

First Photo of Anne Wheelock Gonzales by Tom Smart of the Deseret News

Wings of America Carries Olympic Flame

Eleven thousand five hundred Americans, including a number of Indian people, are carrying the flame as the Olympic Torch Relay travels 13,000 miles through 46 states. Several of the Torchbearers are associated with the Indian youth development program, Wings of America.

Devan Lomayaoma, Wings runner, and Anne Wheelock Gonzales, Wings Associate Director, have been selected to carry the Olympic Flame in Arches National Park in Utah on February 4.

Wheelock Gonzales nominated Lomayaoma as an inspiration for Indian youth in recognition of his running accomplishments, successful transition to college, and community work with children. Lomayaoma is a 19-year-old Hopi-Tewa from Polacca, AZ. A six-time state track and cross-country champ, he now attends and runs for Central Arizona College. He has been a top runner on the Wings teams for three years and has served as a Wings Running and Fitness Camp presenter, volunteer coach, and positive role model for Indian youth. He was chosen by the Olympic Torch Committee and placed in an "inspiring pairs" category. That means that Wheelock Gonzales, the nominator, will also carry the torch. Wheelock Gonzales is a member of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and has worked with the Wings program for seven years. A grandmother of four, Wheelock Gonzales stays active through regular walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing, softball and participation in Senior Olympics. Wheelock Gonzales dedicates the honor of being a torchbearer to all Native youth in hopes they will have the strength, courage, wisdom and goodness of heart to successfully meet all the challenges they face in their lives.

The pair will carry the Olympic Torch in Arches National Park on the morning of February 4.

Seven representatives of the Navajo Nation will be carrying the Olympic Torch in Monument Valley that same day. Two from that group have been associated with Wings of America: Gallup runner Brandon Leslie, and Rehoboth teacher and Coach Elmer Yazzie. Leslie was a seven times state champ in cross-country and track at Gallup High School. During his collegiate career he earned 13 All-American titles and a NCAA Division II Championship. As the only Native American selected to Team USA, he competed at the World University Games in Beijing, China, last year. A three-time member of the Wings of America national junior cross-country team, he finished 2nd overall at the USA National Championships in Missoula, MT, in 1993. An award-winning artist, Yazzie has taught art for 25 years at Rehoboth Christian School where he is also the cross-country coach. His teams have won seven state championships, and he has served as a volunteer Steering Committee member for Wings of the Southwest.

Former Wings of the Northwest Regional Coordinator Duane Matt (Salish/Kootenai) carried the Olympic Torch in Charleston, WV, on December 18. Matt characterizes the torch relay as one of the most exciting moments of his life and adds, “The events on September 11th made me realize that now, more than ever, EVERYONE must join together and learn to get along. The Olympics and the Olympic torch symbolize this point.” Matt ran cross-country and track in college and still runs recreationally.

Wings of America is an American Indian youth development program of the Earth Circle Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation. For more information, call (505) 982-6761.

Wings Runners Honor Jim Thorpe on Wheaties Box, Visit Carlisle
Wings of America runners were invited by General Mills to participate in a special event in the town of Jim Thorpe, PA: the unveiling of the Wheaties cereal box featuring Jim Thorpe, the Sac & Fox Indian now known as “the world’s greatest athlete”.

Haudenosaunee faith keepers Oren Lyons and Stanley Buck opened the ceremony with a prayer at the Jim Thorpe Monument. The Wings runners then carried an eagle staff on a run to the Jim Thorpe High School stadium where thousands of school children and local and state officials had gathered following a parade. Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker, Tena Malotte (Thorpe’s great-granddaughter), and local school children unveiled the giant Wheaties box depicting photos of Jim Thorpe and a brief history of his life and accomplishments.

Local officials, State Representative Keith McCall and the governor spoke, praising the accomplishments of Jim Thorpe and expressing appreciation to General Mills and the town of Jim Thorpe for helping to keep Thorpe’s legacy alive.

Also present was Miss Indian USA 2000 Anna McKibben (Quapaw), who spearheaded a letter writing campaign resulting in thousands of appeals to General Mills asking that Jim Thorpe be honored on the Wheaties box. Don Wild Eagle (Apache/Pima) blessed the participants with a Native smudging.

After the Wheaties box unveiling, the Wings group traveled to Carlisle, PA. That evening, Barb Landis of the Cumberland Historical Society presented a slide show and discussion of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, which Thorpe attended in the early 1900’s. The following morning, the group toured the Carlisle Barracks (now an Army war college), which housed the Carlisle Indian School from 1979-1918.

Nine members of the 2001 Wings National Cross Country Team made the trip: Christine Mae Concho (Acoma Pueblo), Barstow, CA; Erin Lewis (Acoma Pueblo) Grants, NM; Sheena Scott (Navajo), Page, AZ; Samantha Spencer (Navajo), Page, AZ; Janice Tosa (Jemez Pueblo), Jemez, NM; C. R. Davis (Navajo), Gallup, NM; Devan Lomayaoma (Hopi-Tewa), Polacca, AZ; Forrest Tahdooahnippah (Comanche), St. Paul, MN; and Andrew Yazzie (Navajo), Rehoboth, NM. Accompanying the group were Wings’ Executive Director, Edison Eskeets, and Associate Director, Anne Wheelock Gonzales.

Wings of America is an American Indian youth development program operated by The Earth Circle Foundation, a nonprofit corporation.

Wings of America Selects 2002 National Cross Country Teams
Wings of America announces the 2002 national junior cross country teams. The all-Indian teams will compete at the USA Winter National Cross Country Championships in Vancouver, WA, on February 9 & 10. Team members are:

Junior Men Junior Women
  • CR Davis (Navajo), Gallup, NM
  • Anthony Bachmann (Sisseton-Wahpeton Sioux), Gillette, WY
  • Ira La Fontaine (Chippewa), Portland, OR
  • Arvin Thomas (Navajo), Sanders, AZ
  • Forrest Tahdooahnippah (Comanche), St. Paul, MN
  • Bradley Wells, (Blackfeet), Bowling Green, OH
  • Felicia Guliford (Zia Pueblo), Gallup, NM
  • Erin Lewis (Acoma Pueblo), Grants, NM
  • Janice Tosa (Jemez Pueblo), Jemez, NM
  • Christine Concho (Acoma Pueblo), Barstow, CA
  • Vanessa Dan (Navajo), Fruitland, NM
  • Jerri Martin (Navajo), Pinedale, NM, attending school in Gallup
Serving as volunteer coaches are: Alice Kinlichee (Navajo) of Shiprock, NM, and James Nells (Navajo) of Moodys, OK. Accompanying the group will be Wings staff Edison Eskeets, Executive Director; Anne Wheelock Gonzales, Associate Director; and Wings’ founder and board co-chair, William Channing.

The Wings junior women’s team will race on Saturday, February 9, at Ft. Vancouver Park. The junior men race on Sunday. Both teams will be defending their 2001 championship titles. The Wings teams have won 14 national junior team championships in 13 years. The races are the qualifier for the USA team to the World Cross Country Championships to be held in Dublin, Ireland, March 23-24.

In addition to the races, the teams will be hosted by Nike, Inc., at the corporate headquarters in Beaverton, OR. Nike employees will mentor the Wings runners through a special job shadowing experience. Nike also provides uniforms and shoes for the Wings teams.

Funding for the trip to Vancouver, WA, is provided by Carl and Wahleah Davis, Notah Begay III (through the Albuquerque Community Foundation), and the Greg and Jenny Swanson family. Wings Executive Director, Edison Eskeets, also dedicated the proceeds from “Running for Generations” which he completed in September. This 112-mile run was the final leg of a 700-mile spiritual journey begun 18 years ago.

Wings of America is a program of The Earth Circle Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit corporation based in Santa Fe, NM. For more information call: 505-982-6761.

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  Canku Ota is a free Newsletter celebrating Native America, its traditions and accomplishments . We do not provide subscriber or visitor names to anyone. Some articles presented in Canku Ota may contain copyright material. We have received appropriate permissions for republishing any articles. Material appearing here is distributed without profit or monetary gain to those who have expressed an interest. This is in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107.  

Canku Ota is a copyright © 2000, 2001, 2002 of Vicki Lockard and Paul Barry.


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