Diabetes is a chronic and widespread disease that affects roughly 21.9 million Americans and costs an estimated $245 billion to treat annually, and Montezuma County has the seventh-highest rate of the disease in the state.
To promote an active lifestyle and healthy eating— two key diabetes prevention tools— the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, in conjunction with its sister nations the Northern Ute in and Southern Ute, as well as the Navajo Nation, are walking four different routes to the Four Corners National Monument on May 8.
The event, “Walking Together for Healthier Nations,” allows participants to join together for walks anywhere from three to 21 miles, depending on the route. The Ute Mountain Ute route is 19.5 miles.
Starting in Utah, New Mexico, Arizona or Colorado at 7 a.m., walkers are projected to arrive at the Four Corners Monument around 5 p.m. in time for a celebration.
“We do this walk every year in hopes that everyone will get the idea that we want them to be healthy,” said Rita King, diabetes prevention coordinator for the Ute Mountain Ute tribe.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services statistics indicate that the diabetes diagnosis rate is the highest among American and Alaskan Indians at 15.9 percent. The period of 1994 to 2004 saw a 68 percent increase in diabetes among American Indian and Alaska Native teenagers, the statistics say.
The walk itself is free, and water, snacks, and a healthy lunch is provided. “Every 3 miles we take a break, and it is really neat to see we have people that come from the surrounding areas,” said King.
Shuttles and care stations will also be at three mile intervals for tired walkers. Registration for the event is free, open to the public and begins at 5:30 a.m. locally at the Ute Mountain Tribal Park Visitor Center, located at the junction of highways 160 and 491. The event kicks off with a posting of colors at 6:30 a.m., and a tribal elder will pray for the event and walkers before they head out at 7 a.m. For more information, call 970-564-1539.