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Edna Kavanaugh on the Indian Relocation Program

North Dakota, Native American Essential Understanding Number Five is about tribal policies, treaties, and sovereignty. It states, "Native people practice self-determination, developing tribal policies, and practicing political activism. Despite a history of US policies and treaties that have often been detrimental, native people are members of sovereign nations that predate the US government."

On today's Dakota Datebook, we'll hear a story about going to California as part of the US Government's Indian Relocation program from Edna Kavanaugh, Spirit Lake Elder.

Edna Kavanaugh:

Well, I know for one thing, when I first went to California, I mean being I was native, they thought it was something else. Because where I worked, there was really no Natives working where there was a number of different groups that worked there and of course they were interested in the Native. What's the difference? I understood my dad and mom would speak the Sioux language. I understood it. But when we started the boarding school, I lost a lot of that as far as speaking.

Whereas my cousin, the one that was ahead of me, Darlene, her family always spoke Sioux. So she can speak some of the Sioux language, which I understand when they speak it, but as far as I, you just learn some few words now and then. I guess that's what a lot of people were interested in learning, the different language. But I never was able to bring that to other people because once you went to boarding school, you lost that part. Or at least I did. Maybe some were able to keep it, but I wasn't but, I don't know, I found it interesting when I was working in California, a lot of different groups of people you meet and yet everybody was able to get along. That was one thing I brought that influenced me over there. It brought to my attention to able to get along with everybody. I guess because a lot of people came from all over, go to California.

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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