United to Reaffirm and to Preserve
Our Sacred Places by Educating America
about First Nations' Ancient Past
and Natural Worldviews

The Sacred Sites Run evolves from the damages caused by the ruthless march of a new civilization that has leveled many sacred places and today, threatens to destroy more sacred sites of the original inhabitants of this country. The run will focus on educating the public with the traveling exhibit of Ancient North American Civilization and the existing and potential sites to be recognized by governing agencies. We will gather data at places where sites once existed and record why they were destroyed. The runners will be gathering soil near many Mississippian cultural sites and other sacred places to establish a memorial in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. This manner of bringing awareness to specific places is the first of a series of peaceful symbolic actions that is to remind the public that the descendants of mound builders continue to hold these ancient places sacred.

Understanding and respecting our ancient American heritage through preservation of sacred sites fosters cultural and biological diversity. The existences of these ancient earthworks on the American landscape are the physical link to the past and today's competing values are at the core of the problems with current land stewardship resulting in the further destruction of such sites. Our technological industrialized society's use of natural resources depends on our ability to balance our needs with the natural world. Through the human capacity to harmonize with the ecology we may leave our future generations something we can be proud of.

The Project

This is an educational event that will attract public attention to the history of Indigenous peoples and the ongoing threats to sacred sites and other sacred places. It will encourage the public to become active in preserving nature and the need to work toward sustainability in our communities. The public will learn the history of migrations and abandoned ancient settlements. This history indicates the frailty of all human institutions and the evanescence of nature as we see it.

It is apparent that many have not been made aware of the importance of the sites to the Indigenous population. The process of colonization has caused a separation of peoples from the highly sophisticated architectural earthen monuments that colonizers encountered during their explorations westward across the northern hemisphere. This event will increase that awareness by working with historians, our cultural sites experts and with local supporters in organizing education day activities for schools and at other social functions. Our exhibition represents in the display, known sites in the United States and the migrations of Indigenous peoples.

Native and non-native communities understand and accept responsibility, individually and collectively, for the fate and disposition of culturally affiliated sites and other sacred places that have tangible or intangible connections to them. Several organizations and individuals have been invited to partake by supporting group walks and or runs within their areas with us. We wish to include youth and other health enthusiasts.

Symbolic Gathering of Soil

When we see these great earthen monuments we are reminded of our physical connection to our ancestors and the land. The gathering of soil is symbolic to the actual gathering of soil to make the ancient mounds and effigies.

The Sacred Sites Run will gather soil in the areas where sacred sites and other sacred places exist. The act is not to be misconstrued as an organized event of desecration to such sites. Many sacred sites are on private property. Therefore, the one handful taken from the topsoil will be the symbolic representation to that site, although it may be miles away, the act will be held to represent that site.

Our effort is to bring together soil from various parts of the country as a communication device. It relates to the migrations of people and the evolutionary process of changes to the environment and human institutions. From the Indigenous perspective, the run reaffirms the commitment to sacred places, promotes cultural continuity and builds unity to promote mutual understanding between nations and generates national pride.

03-18-06 Sat Pinson TN arrival
03-19-06 Sun Pinson TN Sunrise Ceremony
03-20-06 Mon Pinson TN 51 miles to Biggersville MS
03-21-06 Tue Biggersville MS 60 miles to Troy MS
03-22-06 Wed Troy MS 45 miles to Mathiston MS
03-23-06 Thr Mathiston MS 58 miles to Philadelphia MS
03-24-06 Fri Philadelphia MS to Preston MS
21 miles to Nanih Waiya Park MS
03-25-06 Sat Nanih Waiya Park MS
03-26-06 Sun Nanih Waiya Park MS
03-27-06 Mon Preston MS 52 miles to Mount Hebron AL
03-28-06 Tue Mt. Hebron AL 55 miles to Moundville AL
03-29-06 Wed Moundville AL 49 miles to Centreville AL
03-30-06 Thr Centreville AL 55 miles to Prattville AL
03-31-06 Fri Prattville AL 17 miles to Wetumka AL
04-01-06 Sat Wetumka AL 19 miles to Montgomery AL
04-02-06 Sun Montgomery AL
04-03-06 Mon Montgomery AL 41 miles to Tuskegee AL
04-04-06 Tue Tuskegee AL 43 miles to Columbus GA
04-05-06 Wed Columbus GA 50 miles to Butler GA
04-06-06 Thr Butler GA 52 miles to Macon GA
04-07-06 Fri Macon GA
04-08-06 Sat Macon GA 53 miles to Griffin GA
04-09-06 Sun Griffin GA 74 miles to Dallas GA
04-10-06 Mon Dallas GA 50 miles to Calhoun GA
04-11-06 Tue Calhoun GA 52 miles to Chattanooga TN
04-12-06 Wed Chattanooga TN 47 miles to Benton TN
04-13-06 Thr Benton TN
04-14-06 Fri Benton TN
04-15-06 Sat Benton TN
04-16-06 Sun Benton TN 58 miles to Maryville TN
04-17-06 Mon Maryville TN 53 miles to Rockwood TN
04-18-06 Tue Rockwood TN 45 miles to Sparta TN
04-19-06 Wed Sparta TN 58 miles to Lebanon TN
04-20-06 Thr Lebanon TN 31 miles to Nashville TN
04-21-06 Fri Nashville TN
04-22-06 Sat Nashville TN 23 miles to Ashland City TN
04-23-06 Sun Ashland City TN
04-24-06 Mon Ashland City TN 60 miles to Hopkinsville KY
04-25-06 Tue Hopkinsville KY
04-26-06 Wed Hopkinsville KY 58 miles to Marion KY
04-27-06 Thr Marion KY Mantle Rock Native Education Center
04-28-06 Fri Marion KY
04-29-06 Sat Marion KY
04-30-06 Sun Marion KY
05-01-06 Mon Marion KY
05-02-06 Tue Marion KY 44 miles to Paducah KY
05-03-06 Wed Paducah KY
05-04-06 Thr Paducah KY 36 miles to Cairo IL
05-05-06 Fri Cairo IL
05-06-06 Sat Cairo IL 53 miles to Carbondale IL
05-07-06 Sun Carbondale IL
05-08-06 Mon Carbondale IL 47 miles to Ellis Grove IL
05-09-06 Tue Ellis Grove IL 48 miles to Collinsville IL
Collinsville IL From Cahokia Mounds to Dixon Mounds
the runners will travel to other areas
to help other groups:

Collinsville IL 50 miles to Rosedale IL
Rosedale IL 57 miles to Oxville IL
Oxville IL 34 miles to Browning IL
Browning IL 26 miles to Havana IL
Havana IL 45 miles to Peoria IL
Peoria IL 54 miles to Princeton IL
Princeton IL 33 miles to Dixon IL
Dixon IL 27 miles to Byron IL
Beloit WI 37 miles to Whitewater WI
Janesville WI
Milton WI
Lima Center WI 37 miles to Whitewater WI
Whitewater WI 32 miles to Waukesha WI
09-01-06 Fri Byron IL 32 miles to Beloit WI
09-02-06 Sat Beloit WI 37 miles to Whitewater WI
09-03-06 Sun Whitewater WI 32 miles to Waukesha WI
09-04-06 Mon Waukesha WI 10 miles to State Fair Park, West Allis WI
09-05-06 Tue West Allis WI
09-06-06 Wed SFP, West Allis WI 10 miles to Lake Park, Milwaukee
09-07-06 Thr Milwaukee WI
09-08-06 Fri Indian Summer Festival, Milwaukee
09-09-06 Sat Indian Summer Festival, Milwaukee
09-10-06 Sun Indian Summer Festival, Milwaukee
The final day is being put together by the Milwaukee events co-coordinators
with Indian Summer Inc.   The dates may change to reflect the actual date
of the festival.
Florida Run
03-16-06 Thr Miami FL to Pompano Beach - 35 miles
03-17-06 Fri Pompano Beach FL to West Palm Beach - 40 miles
03-18-06 Sat Rest Day
03-19-06 Sun Rest Day
03-20-06 Mon West Palm Beach FL to Fort Pierce - 60 miles
03-21-06 Tue Fort Pierce FL to Cape Canaveral - 77 miles
03-22-06 Wed Cape Canaveral FL to Titusville - 36 miles
03-23-06 Thr Titusville FL to DeLeon Springs - 64 miles
03-24-06 Fri Deleon Springs FL to Silver Springs - 47 miles
03-25-06 Sat Rest, Education & Catch-up day
03-26-06 Sun Rest, Education & Catch-up day
03-27-06 Mon Rest, Education & Catch-up day
03-28-06 Tue Rest, Education & Catch-up day
03-29-06 Wed Silver Springs FL to Gainesville - 43 miles
03-30-06 Thu Gainnesville FL to Tenniville - 48 miles
03-31-06 Fri Rest and Education
04-01-06 Sat Rest and Education
04-02-06 Sun Tennille FL to Tallahassee FL - 19 miles
04-03-06 Mon Tallahassee FL to Ochlocknee GA - 45 miles
04-04-06 Tue Ochlocknee GA to Albany GA - 50 miles
04-05-06 Wed Albany GA to Montezuma GA - 60 miles
04-06-06 Thu Montezuma GA to Macon GA - 49 miles

E-MAIL Ben Yahola:


Effort afoot to save Native American burial grounds
'Sacred Sites Run' aims to raise nation, Midstate awareness

By Clay Carey
The Tennessean
Sunday, April 23, 2006

Ben Yahola has watched developers and vandals wreck almost all of the sacred burial grounds of the Native American tribes around his Milwaukee, Wis., home. Yahola had a feeling of responsibility to his Muscogee ancestors, a desire to preserve Native American burial sites and explain their importance to the
rest of America.

He decided to do so in the most practical way he knew how -- with his feet. Yahola is one of the driving forces behind the Sacred Sites Run, an effort to attract attention to the rampant "destruction, desecration and ongoing looting" of ancient burial grounds.

"As Native Americans, we want people to know there's a certain sense of identity related to these places," Yahola said during a program at Belmont University yesterday.

"I think tribal groups need to do more (to educate the public and fight for site preservation) … not only one group, but all groups that have been through here," Yahola said.

His drive started on the first day of spring at the Pinson Mounds near Jackson, Tenn. Already, Yahola has been to Indian burial sites in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi.

Yahola and others meet at the sites and make a symbolic run to the mounds, or what is left of them, to collect handfuls of dirt, he said. When the run is finished this summer, dirt from burial mounds in nine states
will be brought to Wisconsin, where it will be used to build a smaller mound as a monument to desecrated burial sites.

Saturday, he added a few handfuls of dirt from local mound sites to his collection. Along with a delegation of local Native Americans and conservationists, Yahola visited several area burial sites, including one near the Brentwood Public Library and Fewkes Mound, also in Brentwood.

"Mr. Yahola is basically trying to help raise awareness on a national level on preservation of sacred sites," said Pat Cummins, a Nashville resident, a Cherokee and a member of the Nashville-based Alliance for Native American Indian Rights.

"There can never be enough people out there fighting for this cause. There's not as many people involved nowadays as there once were," Cummins said. "I see what Ben is doing as being extremely important to Native American people." Cummins said several sites in Middle Tennessee, containing anywhere from 150
to 300 burials, have been destroyed in the past five years. "To us, that's a major loss, just because of their sheer size," he said.

Without a significant shift in culture, sacred Native American burial sites will continue to fall to development, according to Mark Tolley, co-president of the Tennessee Ancient Sites Conservancy.

Tennessee is a "cultural wasteland" when it comes to preserving those sites, Tolley said. "We bulldoze mounds in Tennessee," he said. "Most of our sites in Davidson County are gone. We need to preserve what we have. If we don't act fast in the next 10 years, most of these sites will be gone."

At times, Yahola said, what he has seen at mounds during the run have weighed heavily on his heart. At one, looters searching for artifacts had dug a large hole right through a mound. At another, a casino had been built over a burial site. "Some of it, it's pretty hard to go there," he said. "It takes a lot of energy out of me to do this."

Yahola put much of the blame on the nation's education system, which he says doesn't teach children "about the true America." The responsibility of delivering those lessons now falls to individuals, he said.

"We want to be able to educate people and let them know that we are all tribal people, in that we have that connection to the earth," Yahola said. "This is not just an Indian problem. This is something we all can benefit from."