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Jessie Taken Alive on Being Thankful for Elders

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, powwow gatherings, shared living spaces, and care for relatives, including the environment, natural resources, and waters.

In today's episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Jessie Taken Alive, enrolled member of Standing Rock, talk about the importance of being thankful for elders.

Jessie Taken Alive:

Really always thank our elders for maintaining the truth, if you will, maintaining the language, the sacrifices, everything that they did so we can today talk about how our language is coming back. See the involvement by young people in our ceremonies, which were outlawed, if you will, until August 11th, 1978.

I could still hear my great grandfather, who didn't speak English, giving me advice and the sage knowledge, if you will, the Lakota understandings of life that he impressed upon me. I tried my best to do that, likewise, with young people and those around me. I think back about those other elders, my parents, of course, and now me getting a chance to be a, my misses and I, I should say. We're getting a chance to be grandparents, not only parents, but grandparents. And how do we do that? What we call the creator, Tunkashila, which means grandfather. When our grandchildren call me, they don't say Tunkashila, but they say the derivative of it, it's La La. They're in our language, which is spiritual. They're referring to me as the person on this earth that they expect to be that grandfather.

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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