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March 14: Teachings of Our Elders - Jesse Cree on Tribal Stories

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North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding number three is about sharing and generosity. It states, "Native people have rich traditions of sharing and generosity, which include gifting, shared meals, powwow gatherings, shared living spaces, and care for relatives, including the environment, natural resources, and waters."

In today's episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Jesse Cree, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa, talk about tribal stories and family stories.

Jesse Cree:

We had stories that we were told a long time ago, and the young people would ... the people in the family would tell their stories, and the people in the family would most likely be the grandfather. And the father would also have his stories to tell, too. But the grandfather would have older stories to tell, and that's where everything came from. So then they had tribal stories, and then they had family stories, and then they had ... tribal stories would be about Nanapush.

Now, in the Red Lake area are a different area they call Nanapush, and it's usually about the creation of the Earth. It would be about the last creation of the Earth. As I understand it, the earth was created so many times before, but the last creation of the earth involved Nanapush. So those stories are passed on to us. Now the younger people would have to find some way to get a hold of tobacco because they were not given tobacco either. Tobacco was kind of hard to get, so they had to get tobacco to give tobacco to their dad or their grandfather to tell them a story, or whatever they wanted, they give them tobacco.

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 is made in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, and funded by Humanities North Dakota, a nonprofit, independent state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in the program do not necessarily reflect those of Humanities North Dakota or the National Endowment for the Humanities.