Earth Notes: America Walks

Dec 5, 2018

Walking seems like such a simple activity. But it opens up the world, gives time to see the details, and fosters good health. And for a small pueblo in northern New Mexico it’s also a way to connect with their age-old culture. 

Walkers at Santa Ana Pueblo
Credit Tamaya Wellness Center

Studies have shown that walking can help prevent obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. It’s grown in popularity, and walking clubs have sprung up across the nation.

In 1996, the clubs joined to form America Walks—the only national organization devoted to walking. The group now works with a network of thousands of individuals and 400 organizations advocating at the federal level and providing grants to build safe, walkable communities.

Residents of Santa Ana Pueblo—one of nineteen pueblos along the Rio Grande--have long been working to find ways to stay healthy and strong so they can carry on the traditions taught by the elders and preserve their native language, called Keres. Unfortunately, they are disproportionately affected by obesity and heart disease, and nearly twenty percent of the population has diabetes.

This year the Pueblo received an America Walks grant to fund interactive signs along a recreation trail at the Tamaya Wellness Center. The signs will offer information about the health benefits of walking, and display names of native plants in the Keres language.

Walking is the perfect pace to appreciate the orange blossoms of a globemallow, the rustle of birds in a four-winged saltbush, and the meaning of place and traditional knowledge.