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Gladys Hawk on grandmother's stories

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding number two is about learning and storytelling. It states traditional teaching and the passing on of knowledge and wisdom was done through storytelling, song, ceremony, and daily way of life, often incorporating specific gender and age specific responsibilities. These continue to be some of the best modes for learning for both native and non-native learners.

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Gladys Hawk, enrolled member of the Standing Rock Nation, as she talks about grandmother's stories.

Gladys Hawk:

In the evenings when we had our evening prayers, then of course the lamp light and all that. We didn't have electricity like this. Then they would sit at the table and smoke their pipe. My grandma had her own pipe, grandpa had his. And they would have evening prayer first, and then they would socialize just by smoking, talk about things for the day, and then my grandmother would tell me, okay, now it's time for your bedtime. And I would sleep with her.

So she would put me to bed, and then she'd start telling me stories that, I mean, your imagination can just run wild when you hear it in your language. It's just like watching TV, the cartoons. It just grabs your attention. Well, it's the same thing, but it was my mind. And because of the way that she would talk and her expressions, her tone of voice or all of that, it makes a story come alive, so to speak. And so I would just be so mesmerized just listening to her talk about these stories that she told me. And usually just at the end, you're just all tense and waiting for something bad to happen. Then she says, and then translating it should say, and that's why I want you to be good. She said, don't be like this one in the story.

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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