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Oliver Gourd on Generosity

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number Three is about sharing and generosity. It states, "Native people have rich traditions of sharing and generosity, which include gifting, shared meals, pow wow gatherings, shared living spaces, and care for relatives, including the environment, natural resources, and waters."

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Oliver Gourd, elder, educator and enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota Nation, talk about the importance of generosity among the Dakota people.

Oliver Gourd:

We all shared. When somebody went hunting, sometimes some people would bring some meat over to our house. They'd bring some deer meat or some ducks or some rabbits. And then later on in the spring, my grandpa used to have a big garden, and after we'd get all the corn and potatoes and carrots and all that, there was always a lot left over, so he would invite all the people to come. There'd be wagons parked along the road over there. They would all come and help themselves. That was my grandpa's way of sharing.

He had a big root cellar that was full with a lot of stuff. Ceyaka, that tea, and [inaudible] and corn and potato, vegetables. Generosity. One of our values was sharing. Generosity, kind of like that, to be generous not only for material stuff, but you have time for somebody, to talk to them or take care of children or share your time, prayers, share your prayers. There's a lot of stuff to do with sharing, and I know that.

I used to walk all the way to Fort Totten and my mom said, "Well, go see Uncle Harry and tell him you want some sugar." Go see my uncle. "Mom wants to borrow some sugar." Yeah. Might be a big bag of sugar. So I'd take the sugar and walk all the way back. And then later on we'd reciprocate somehow, some way.

If you'd like to learn more about the North Dakota Native American essential understandings, and to listen to more Indigenous elder interviews, visit teachingsofourelders.org.

Dakota Datebook: Teachings of Our Elders is produced with support from and in collaboration with the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction.

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