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July 11: Teachings of Our Elders - Dr. Carmelita Lamb on Native Identity

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North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding, Number Seven is about Native Identity. It states, "individual and communal identity is defined and supported by shared Native languages, kinship systems, Tiospaye, clan structures, traditional teachings, values, sacred laws and ceremonies. A continuum of tribal identity, unique to each individual, ranges from assimilated to traditional lifestyle. There is no generic American Indian."

On today's Dakota Datebook, we'll hear about the importance of the North Dakota Native American Essential Understandings in teacher preparation from Dr. Carmelita Lamb, Lipan Apache, and longtime professor at University of Mary.

Dr. Carmelita Lamb:

I think that if that could be embedded in the way that our teachers are prepared, it would make a huge stride because at that moment, when they are in teacher preparation, is probably when they're going to be the most impressionable. Just think for a moment what it would be like to see an entire class of teachers graduated from the state of North Dakota, out of the 12 institutions in our state who prepare teachers of which four of them are tribal colleges, all preparing teachers, imagine, if you will, how it would be if those students all graduated in May, all having extensive training in what essential understandings truly is and how it can make a difference. As far as being able to embed that into a curriculum, just think of all the methods courses where this type of information easily, easily is relevant. I would applaud any type of momentum in that direction because I think that we can only generate teachers that are much more prepared for our classrooms than having not. It's just any way that we can influence them at that, like I said, that very impressionable stage.

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 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.