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Alex DeCoteau on Native American Contributions to Society

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number Six is about native contributions. It states, "Native people continue to contribute to all levels of society, from local to global, in diverse fields, including medicine, science, government, education, economics, art, music, and many more."

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Alex DeCoteau, educator and enrolled Member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, share his insight into exactly what it is that Native Americans have contributed to the United States.

Alex DeCoteau:

What I have learned from the elders is the Creator made everything. [Wayeshkad] in the beginning, he put the Native American here on what we call Turtle Island [Anishinaabe odizhinikaadaanaawaa North America “Mikinaak Minis”].

[Mii endaayaang, Anishinaabe endaayaang]. This is our home, and the Indian people lived all over North America. [Mii go gaye sago (and it’s also)] South America. That's where the Creator put all the Native American people.

So what the Native American people contributed to this country [Mii sago kina gegoo] is everything.

[Memindage endaayaang (especially] our home. [Mii owe endaayaang] This is our home. [Onjii imaa gichigami waabanong] All the way from the ocean in the East [imaa dash gichigami ningaabii’anong] All the way to the ocean in the West. That's where they lived [Mii imaa gaa asindwaa niigaanizid manidoo] and that's where the Creator put us. [Mii dash baanimaa] Then later, the other people come, the other people from Europe [gichigaming onjibaawag] Everything that this American government has, every inch, of land, is our home. [Geyaabi ndabiitaamin.] And we still live there, it's still our home. [Geyaabi endaayaang] That's what the Indian has given. [Geyaabi noongom miigiwewag.] They still give this today.

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

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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