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Charles Hunter on Where He's From

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. Our key elements for our spirituality.

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Charles Hunter, enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation, talking about where I'm from.

Charles Hunter:

... Said growing up was that way with both my parents. My mom instilled that in us as well, letting us know what clan we are. She inherited a clan from her mother, being Hidatsa, and so we take that as well and kind of explaining that to us growing up, me and my siblings, and saying this is what clan we belong to.

But also on my dad's side, on the Mandan side, he was a member of a clan there, so we're a child of that. So kind of explaining that, and he explained a lot of that to us. My parents instilled that and told us that. And not only on that Hidatsa, Mandan side, but also on the Arikara side too. We have societies that we belong to, what positions, different ones that they hold as well as...

A lot of that side is your grandparents instilling a lot of teachings in you as well. So, growing up I had that as well. Trying to pass that on to your next generation. My son's explaining that to them. I think that helps in the long run of life, and it helped me this far. Previous Jerome saying, it's something we carried on. We didn't question. Uh-huh (negative). What you are, which one was where you go, so that was always a big thing. My dad was pretty strict, I don't think we have questioned anything growing up. So that was always a big foundation with that. Same with a lot of the stuff, you talk about your land, your different animals, different stuff. Where I live today is land that we inherited from my mom's side. She grew up there, her dad grew up there, his dad grew up there. So that's a over a century, something of our family being on that land, inheriting in that, but also taking care of it.

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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