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July 19: Teachings of Our Elders - Vincent Grant, Sr. on Bows and Rifles

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North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number Six is about native contributions. It states “Native people continue to contribute to all levels of society, from local to global in diverse fields including medicine, science, government, education, economics, art, music, and many more.”

In today's episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll hear Vincent Grant, Sr., enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Nation, talk about bows and rifles.

Vincent Grant, Sr.:

A lot of them, rather than go out there and make a bunch of noise, shooting their rifles and pistols off, most of them carried a bow and arrows because it's so much quieter. This is so much quieter than the rifles. Of course, you've got a string in there some place. But, they carried bows and arrows, and they would use this, being so much quieter, and you can go pick up your arrows and use them again. You shoot the rifle one time and your bullet's gone. You ain't going to find it. So, a lot of them carried bows.

All the guns that they made were St. Louis Hawkens. It's a 50. caliber Hawken rifle, okay? The thing is about this tall. The site's probably about this far down from the barrel, all right? In order to get one of those rifles, they would start stacking beaver pelts, one on top the other, until it reached the top site. Then they would trade all those pelts for one rifle. So, it'd be a full year's trapping probably, to get a rifle Then you still had to trade. You still had to trade for your powder and everything else, too. So, it kind of had them over. That's how come a lot of them stuck with the bow; a lot easier, a lot quieter. You could make one. You didn't have to whittle one out. Get some sinew, and get yourself some string, and you're good to go.

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.