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Debbie Poitra on Respecting All Things

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number One is about sacred relatives. It states, "Native people practice a deep interconnectedness with the land, the resources, the water, all living things, and all human beings. Land stewardship, respect for all two-legged, four-legged winged, crawlers and swimmers, and a strong belief in the sacredness of all human beings are key elements of our spirituality.”

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Debbie Poitra, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Nation, speak about respect for all things.

Debbie Poitra:

I was taught from the day I was born about God and our relationship with God. With that, you have a respect for all things. You have a respect for the land, and you have a respect for what He has created. And then that leads us into how we respect ourselves and how we respect others. I love going outside and just sitting in nature, and that's one of the highlights of my day, it's when I can get outside and sit on the deck and the trees are there, the birds. We have a lot of birds around our yard. I love flowers, so I plant a lot of flowers. And so, those all give me a good perspective of being close to nature and really appreciating what God has created for us.

And I sit out there and say my rosary every morning. And it is just a good way for me to start my day. And I know that it's always been important for Native people to realize the fact that we're not in control. God is in control, and the things that He has created and the way that everything works hand in hand. And when you think about, I always use the example when we think about our bodies even, and the intricate pieces that we have within us, and everything that has to work together to be able to make us live and breathing and living, that is what is so amazing about God and all He has done for us.

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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