Stamford - More than 50 people huddled around afire yesterday in the mammoth teepee, with smoke venting through a latticework of logs lashed at the top.
It was 3 p.m., time for the sacred talking circle. Only members of the American Indian tribes gathered for a journey were permitted inside.
They're reclaiming their identity as Native Americans, and they're reclaiming their mental health as a people and as individuals, too.There were representatives from the Cree, Blackfoot, Six Nations of the Grand River, Mohawk, Cayuga, Oneida, Lakota and Taino Nation tribes.
The teepee was on the Shady Lane property of Jerry and Jeannie Calcano McDonald, hosts to a delegation of dozens taking part in the Spirit of the Youth Unity Run.
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The Unity Run was started in 1986 in South Dakota by the Lakota tribe, she said.
"The elders there had this recurring dream about reuniting the native people here," Freeman said.
Their dreams were spurred by the 1890 Wounded Knee, S.D., massacre that left 300 Lakota men, women and children dead, she said.
"With the loss and the death of those people, the Lakota lost their language and what made them a people," Freeman said. "So, they dreamt about reuniting their people. These unity runs are part of a revitalization of the Native American culture and identity.