First Native American cabinet member runs Boston Marathon to mark Indigenous People’s Day

US Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland ran this year’s Boston Marathon as a tribute to “missing and murdered indigenous people.”

Ms Haaland, who became the first Native American cabinet secretary in March this year, ran the 26.2-mile-long marathon on Monday, the same date when Indigenous People’s Day was observed in the country this year.

She explained the reasons for her participation in an op-ed penned for The Boston Globe on Monday.

The interior secretary said it was a tribute to “missing and murdered Indigenous peoples and their families, the victims of Indian boarding schools, and the promise that our voices are being heard and will have a part in an equitable and just future in this new era.”

“My feet will pound the ancestral homelands of the Massachusett, the Mashpee Wampanoag, and the Pawtucket people and will follow in the footsteps of Indigenous runners who have participated in this race over its 125-year history,” wrote Ms Haaland.

“I started running about 20 years ago,” she further said. “Along the way to running my first marathon, I began to think deeply about the story of my people who have used running not only to get places but to preserve their traditions and culture,” she added.

“I run because my ancestors gave me this ability.”

In a Twitter post, Ms Haaland said: “It is more important than ever to recognise Indigenous Peoples as the first stewards of this land.”

The 125th edition of the famous Boston Marathon this year attracted criticism as the date for the event coincided with Indigenous People’s Day.

The Boston Athletic Association, which organises the marathon, publicly apologised for the date clash and said the marathon would be a tribute to the late Ellison “Tarzan” Brown, a member of Rhode Island’s Narragansett tribe who won the race twice in the 1930s.

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