I raised my arms in the air and a shiver ran through my entire body. A gust of wind lifted my hair as the crowd began to sing and cheer. My heart seemed to beat along with the sounds of their voices, like a drum.
OTTAWA, Canada — At the 2023 Masters Indigenous Games (MIG) in Ottawa, a beautiful tapestry of culture and talent surrounded me. Dressed in the traditional indigenous attire of the Rarámuri people, I represented my entire community back home in Mexico. From August 24-27, competitors from indigenous communities from around the world gathered to compete and celebrate our diverse and rich histories.
As a Rarámuri runner, this sport frees me from stress; I am completely independent when I run my race. In this year’s games, I won gold medals in three categories – the junior women’s 1,500-meter run, junior women’s 3,000-meter run, and the 6k open run. With each win, a sense of deep pride flooded me. Standing at the podium, I felt like a superhero.
[The Rarámuri people are believed to descend from Mogollon culture. They settled in Chihuahua, Mexico until Spanish colonization drove them into the Copper Canyon and the Sierra Madre Occidental, where they reside today. Their native language belongs to the Uto-Aztecan family, and they are renowned for their long-distance running ability.]
Standing at the podium, the announcers placed the medal around my neck. I raised my arms in the air and a shiver ran through my entire body. A gust of wind lifted my hair as the crowd began to sing and cheer. My heart seemed to beat along with the sounds of their voices, like a drum.
Staying deeply connected to my culture is critical to me, especially after all I endured as a child. As a little girl, my mother left us and emigrated to another country in search of better opportunities. My grandparents raised my siblings and me. As a teenager, I decided to look for my mom in Juarez.
When I finally found her, I rehearsed what I would say, staring at her from a distance. As I made my way toward her, I felt eager to finally connect with the woman who gave birth to me. Then, the unthinkable happened. She pretended not to know me and left, refusing to talk. Tears ran down my cheeks as my heart broke. I stood still for several minutes, feeling the gravity of the moment, before walking away.
It took a long time to process and accept what had happened to me that day. For some time afterwards, I faced difficulties financially and emotionally. Then, one afternoon, I saw runners training in El Chamizal Park, very close to my home. They looked so free and full of life.
I wanted to run like them but felt anxious at first. “Will people find me ridiculous,” I worried. A few days later, I went out and just ran. An amazing feeling entered my body, helping me to deal with the issues floating around in my head. I knew immediately, I wanted to run my entire life.
Pairing running with my ancestry and staying close to my culture made me feel unbeatable, especially after the painful experience with my mother. I will run for as long as my feet will allow it. Standing amongst my friends and my community on the podium at the 2023 Masters Indigenous Games made winning even better.
Accepting my award, I understood that my talent, determination, and resilient spirit set me apart – not only in my athletic ability but as an indigenous Rarámuri runner, adorned in my traditional attire. As a result of my victory, I have since experienced profound success through running.
Now I can continue to work on building myself and my life back home. It feels incredible to achieve this new sense of stability in my life. Before traveling to Canada, I had never been on airplane before. I spent the entire flight staring out of the window in awe. It did not feel like the airplane was flying; it felt like I was flying.
That joy has carried over. The entire experience is like a dream come true. Reflecting back, I remember smiling from ear to ear throughout the entire race. At the finish line, the eruption of excitement from the spectators felt like a warm embrace. I vow to continue this journey for as long as I can.
Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.
Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.