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Jesse Taken Alive on the Importance of Humor

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number Four is about sense of humor. It states: "Native people have a rich history of shared sense of humor that includes teaching stories involving Iktomi, Mamaygwisi, and Nanabozhoo. These stories and this unique sense of humor, continue to support our resiliency and cohesiveness.

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Jesse Taken Alive, elder educator, and enrolled member of the Standing Rock Nation discuss the important role that humor plays among the Lakota people.

Jesse Taken Alive:

A couple of things that I would share, that is our humor. The humor amongst Lakota people is... Words can't describe it, literally. Because when you tell a joke in our language and you try to interpret it into English, the punch word or words are gone. It's not as funny.

The other thing I want to share is that as bands, we do things different, but we are all going towards the same goal and purpose, and we respect each other for that. America talks about The Land of the Free, which is awesome, and we certainly respect that. But as Lakota we say, "Land of the Free and allowing others to be free." That's the part that sometimes it's hard to understand by our non-Indian friends or dominant culture. They don't see that because while they talk about freedom, until recently, there was only two kinds of political parties: the red and the blue, the Democrats, Republicans; now we got the Tea Party. If it's free then how come there's only two parties? All those types of things that we look at and trying our best to understand, or as they say, wrap our heads around.

But as Lakota they say, allowing each other to be free is really important, and not taking advantage of each other, of course. But as we see those things coming back amongst us, it's really, really exciting, really exciting...

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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