An odd story out of Oklahoma, where on September 5 a man participating in a Peace & Dignity Journey (PDJ) run was allegedly stopped and cuffed by police while for carrying a scared eagle staff. The PDJ is a First Nation organization that invites Natives and non-Natives alike to participate in perserving American Indian culture, and had organized a run through Kay County, Oklahoma. The runner was allegedly stopped by police after local residents called them and said "people were running down the road with weapons and tomahawks."
The Examiner.com's Brenda Goldenreports that PDJ coordinator Hector Cerda said that the runners were coming into White Eagle, and were some three miles away. Cerda was in a van on his way to pick up the runners and take them to the host site when he came upon this particular runner (his name has not been provided), a Mohawk Nation citizen, handcuffed and in the backseat of a police car on Highway 177. The runner's eagle staff was lying on the ground.
Cerda told the Golden that the police told him about the reports from locals of people running with weapons, and said the locals had feared for the safety due to a rash of break-ins in the area lately. Cerda told the Golden that the officers came upon the runner with his eagle staff (about two-fee long, painted red, with eagle feathers and topped with deer antlers) and, according to the runner, drew their guns. The runner reported that one officer held a shotgun, the other a pistol.
The police allegedly cuffed the runner and put him in the police cruiser, and, according to the runner, never asked any questions inquiring about what he was doing with the eagle staff. Cerda told Golden he spoke to the police (who ran a background check on him) and, eventually, he and the runner were released.
"We in Oklahoma state this mistreatment and harassment of our indigenous people should not be allowed to continue," Golden writes. "At the very least, cultural awareness is severely lacking, not only in this case but across the state. This is typical of the type 'law enforcement' our indigenous citizens endure in Oklahoma."