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Getting Through Boarding School (Part Two)

North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding number four is about sense of humor. It states, "Native people have a rich history of shared sense of humor that includes teaching stories involving Iktómi, Memegwesi, and Nanabozho. These stories and this unique sense of humor continue to support our resiliency and cohesiveness.

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Catherine Froelich, enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, in part two of Getting Through Boarding School.

Catherine Froelich:

Or she has other stories about going in and eating, and you could only eat at certain times, breakfast, and you couldn't take any food out and lunch and then supper. And the story that her and Regina Shenandoah, when she was still alive, used to tell us, was that they had nickers that they had to wear. So they always got hungry when they'd go back to the dorms after supper time.

So she said, "We'd take the biscuits from the table and we'd drop them in our nickers." She said, "So that when we'd go out, they wouldn't catch us." And there was peanut butter on the table, so they would take the peanut butter and they'd spread it on their hands because when they go out, they'd have to stand and pass somebody, somebody who was checking, and they'd have to go like this and turn, and then they'd go out. And so she said, "Oh, we had so much fun, because then when we got outside and got to our room and we'd take out the biscuits, and we'd take off the peanut butter and we had a snack." So they would laugh about that. So humor has helped people, help tribal people survive. It really has.

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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