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Eya Co Nape Tasunka Fox on native identity

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number Seven is about native identity. It states, "Individual and communal identity is defined and supported by shared native languages, kinship systems, Tiospaye, clan structures, traditional teachings, values, sacred laws, and ceremonies. A continuum of tribal identity unique to each individual ranges from assimilated to traditional lifestyle. There is no generic American Indian."

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Eya Co Nape Tasunka Fox, an indigenous dancer, young father, and an enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, share how he honors his young son's identity through immersing him in his family's generational cultural practices, while allowing his individuality to inform his ultimate course.

Eya Co Nape Tasunka Fox:

And would be awesome to see him dance. He has his stuff, he has everything, but if the day decides to come where he's going to be like, "Dad, I like chess," or "I like doing this stuff," or he has more attention to basketball like his uncle, I'm going to go with him. I'm going to push him in what he's interested in.

But I'm pretty positive, though, that he's into this, because he has the beat, he has the rhythm. I'll be getting ready for day. And I'll be like, "Oh, shoot, this new album came out," and I'll be listening to it, listen to new songs, studying the new songs. And sure enough, I'll hear his foot kicking while we're driving, and hitting on time.

And some parents be like, "Don't be kicking my seat," and stuff like that. But here I am, be like, "All right. All right, Nate." I'll change the song up on him, and sure enough, he'll be kicking my seat to the Tiospaye. And it's pretty amazing.

But as I said, for my hopes for my son, just like my dad did, I'll help whatever he wants to do in his life. I'll push him and stuff like that. I'm not going to push anything on him. If he's interested and he'll talk about the hoop dancing, we'll give him the hoops after my time comes. That's a while, a while, a while.

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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