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May 14: Teachings of Our Elders - "A Native Perspective on Sovereignty" (Part Two)

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North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding Number five is about Tribal Policies, Treaties & Sovereignty. It states Native people practice self-determination, developing tribal policies and practicing political activism despite a history of US policies and treaties that have often been detrimental. Native people are members of sovereign nations that predate the US government.

In this episode of Dakota Datebook we'll listen to JT Shining Oneside, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Nation, in part two of "A Native Perspective on Sovereignty."

JT Shining Oneside:

We can always say we're sovereign nations, but are we truly sovereign? If we don't, we always are looking for a handout. I have a brother-in-law and one of the things that he told his children is, I don't ever want you getting general assistance. When you turn 18, you will get a job or you'll go to college, but you won't live off of general assistance. And so to this day, yet none of his children have ever gotten general assistance. They are all either working or have gone to college, but he's held true to his word and they have followed with that. And then I think our people need to stop doing the handout. I know it's difficult if you think about it, because I've certainly done it. I've had to go without. Sometimes I've had to choose to shut off the electricity so I could feed my children.

But then that gets interfered with because social services can come in. But there's always a way. And some of the best times I've ever had in my life was when I didn't get any income during the summertime, but I made sure and pay all my bills ahead. I didn't have any money, but I took my four children and I when we would go and rake yards. We would go and mow yards, we'd pick up cans, we'd do all of that stuff the five of us together. And those are some really beautiful memories that I have because that's the way we got our gas or something else that we needed.

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.