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Lorraine Davis on Broken Spirits

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.

On today's Dakota Datebook, we'll hear an important teaching about broken spirits from Lorraine Davis, enrolled member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.

Lorraine Davis:

The strategy that I truly believe in just by listening, not my own personal belief, but just by listening to all of those that I work with, it's that our cultural identity is vital to being successful in this. And of course, we know that our cultural identity or our native identity, it's not just traditions, it's not just the language. It's having those environments that are what is familiar to us because social norms create a culture. And so we are different in that way, natives and non-natives.

It is different. How we joke around or how we get the little cues and like we talked about here at the training. And so it's those things and it's a good start to start teaching teachers, but it's still never going to be exactly the same. And so we need to have these environments to be able to work together to make it a better place for Native Americans, just in general. Then I believe then we can start building from there because then our self-esteem builds. Because I believe that's when our spirit's broken, we lack that self-esteem. It's hard to feel like you can do anything successfully.

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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