Not your average Turkey Trot, 'Truthsgiving' run focuses on Indigenous history

A group of runners post for a photo holding a flag
Participants of the 2022 Truthsgiving Run at Pike Island in St. Paul.
Courtesy: Michael Harralson, founder of ReNew Earth Running

According to Runner’s World, last year, more than 750,000 runners across the country participated in some kind of Turkey Trot, a foot race for humans on Thanksgiving Day.

That’s not far from the population of North Dakota. The tradition goes back to Thanksgiving Day, 1896.

But for the last few years, runners with two organizations based in Minnesota and Virginia have been refocusing the tradition on Indigenous history. They’re hosting a ‘Truthsgiving’ run in Roseville, Minn., on Sunday. Folks can also participate virtually all weekend.

Angie DeLille is a member of Lake Manitoba First Nation and serves on the board of Minnesota-based ‘ReNew Earth Running.’ She joined MPR News host Cathy Wurzer.

Use the audio player above to listen to the full conversation.

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Audio transcript

CATHY WURZER: See, according to Runner's World last year, more than 750,000 runners across the country participated in some kind of Turkey Trot, a foot race for humans on Thanksgiving Day. That's not far from the population of North Dakota. The tradition goes back to Thanksgiving Day 1896.

But for the last few years, runners with two organizations based in Minnesota and Virginia have been refocusing the tradition on Indigenous history. They're hosting a Truthsgiving run in Roseville on Sunday, this coming Sunday. Folks can also participate virtually all weekend.

Angie Delille will be there. She's a member of the Lake Manitoba First Nation, serves on the board of Minnesota-based ReNew Earth Running. And she's on the line. Angie, welcome to the program.

ANGIE DELILLE: Hi. Thank you.

CATHY WURZER: I don't think many people have heard the term Truthsgiving, Angie. What does it mean?

ANGIE DELILLE: Well, Truthsgiving is looking at our history in the eyes of an Indigenous community. And we've historically in this country have learned our history through the eyes of the settler. And that erases a lot of history that Indigenous people hold and live with every day. And a lot of times, that history has a lot of pain and suffering involved in it.

But the settler version is often, on the flip side, more romanticized. And so we're challenging people to really learn about the truth about Thanksgiving and that it wasn't necessarily a joyous day for all. And the time wasn't necessarily a time of celebration for all.

CATHY WURZER: And how will those historic threads, those historic stories from the Native point of view be presented during the event this weekend?

ANGIE DELILLE: Well, so a lot of it is relying on the individual to find their own-- be on their own journey for that. We do have links to resources in the information for the run. The run itself is a time to be together and to build community around the event and around the idea. We won't be necessarily providing education on the day of, for example, but hopefully inspire people to on their own do some research or look into ways that they can advocate or be a meaningful ally in the future.

CATHY WURZER: And to educate themselves, as you say, which I have a feeling that's what's behind your motto. The organization's motto on the website says, "running beyond land acknowledgments." Right? So how can runners, people in general, be more respectful of Indigenous history, Indigenous land?

ANGIE DELILLE: Well, first of all, to remember that-- and especially in Minnesota, all the land in Minnesota is Native land. You know, it's Dakota land. It's Ojibwe land. For example, I live in Minneapolis really close to Owamni, the St. Anthony Falls. And I run along the Mississippi River every day. And every day, I think about the Dakota who took care of the land that I am so privileged to be able to run on.

And you know, I just make sure that I'm always thinking about that and keeping that in mind, that I'm not forgetting that there were other people before me. And people are still-- of course, communities are-- continue to thrive today even.

And what can I do, even as a Native person, what is my contribution to forwarding the-- our community and doing the best for our community and making sure that we are honoring the land that we are on and always remembering-- educating others, making sure my children remember that we are all-- that we are on Native land.

CATHY WURZER: Say, before you go, Angie, if folks want to participate, what do they have to do?

ANGIE DELILLE: Well, they can join us on-- there's two ways. On Sunday at 8:00 AM, they can come to Makwa Coffee in Roseville, Minnesota, 2805 Hamline Avenue. Or they can look online. Truthsgiving, you can Google it. Or it's events.elitefeats.com/23truthsgiving. And sign up and join virtually. Or if neither of those happen to be what you can do just on your own, of course, you can always participate any day and every day.

CATHY WURZER: All right. Angie, thank you for your time. I really appreciate it.

ANGIE DELILLE: Thank you so much.

CATHY WURZER: Angie Delille's been with us. She's a board member of ReNew Earth Running. That's a group organizing the Truthsgiving run in Roseville this coming weekend.

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