"It wasn't a homecoming, exactly; Larry EchoHawk grew up in Farmington, about 150 miles up the road from here. But it felt like coming home, especially when he drove past the old baseball field that used to be transformed into a track every Father's Day for the once-storied, now-defunct All-Indian Track and Field Meet.
In the 1960s, when EchoHawk was in high school, Father's Day meant a drive to Jemez Pueblo with his dad and three brothers to race against boys from the pueblos and tribes from around the Southwest. The prize for winning the Father's Day meet? Bragging rights to being the fastest Indian.
No one at Jemez could afford lime, so track lines were drawn with government commodity flour. You had to run fast before the pueblo dogs licked the course away.
EchoHawk, the nation's new assistant Interior secretary for Indian Affairs, was in New Mexico last week for meetings with pueblo and Navajo leaders, but he took a short break from attacking the problems that beset Indian country to come to Jemez and reminisce about running — and tamales.
"We would bring the Pawnee Nation team — four people — me and my brothers," EchoHawk told me. "And we won the meet more than once. We were totally outnumbered and we didn't win every year, but a few times we were able to pull off a victory. We were fast.""
Get the Story:
Leslie Linthicum: Long Run: From Pueblo Track to Post at Interior
(The Albuquerque Journal 8/23)