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March 11: Teachings of Our Elders - Eileen Little Ghost on the Medicine Wheel

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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 Eileen Little Ghost, Lakota Elder, as she talks about the medicine wheel.

Eileen Little Ghost:

Because we use the west, this blue, where the thunderings come because it's blue, blue water.

And then the north is the buffalo because the buffalo can face the storm and survive till the wintertime, and that's where Santa Claus comes from, too, the red.

And the yellow is sunrise, east. When the baby is born, Grandma... The teepees always faces east. Grandma would take the baby as soon as the baby's born, either boy or girl, she comes out of the teepee and she says, "Recognize this little baby boy. He comes into the world to join us. Someday, he'll be a president."

And then the south makes me cry because when south is white, because that's where all our... When we pass on, we go that, Milky Way. We go into the Milky Way.

Those are the colors we live by. And of course, Mother Earth, we shouldn't forget Mother Earth. Yeah, she's green. The green flag is for a green Mother Earth.

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.