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June 12: Teachings of Our Elders - Debbie Petra on Turtle Mountain culture

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North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding number 7 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."

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Debbie Petra, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Nation, as she talks about the culture of the Turtle Mountain people.

Debbie Petra:

Well, I think that we all have to recognize where we came from. And like I said, our culture is unique, because we have the Chippewa, we have the French, we have the Cree. And so, basically, we formed our own culture from the cultures that we had, and it became known as the [inaudible 00:01:15] culture. Some people call it [inaudible 00:01:17] because of Louis Real and the Canadian movement that he had.

But we all have to have our own identity. We all have to know where we came from. We all have to realize that we are an important part of a family, and that family leads back for generations. And who was in that particular lineal history is who we are. And if we can understand that, and if we can grow from that, and if we can accept that, then that's going to help us to be able to survive no matter where we go. It's always hard for a lot of our native people to leave the reservation, because they don't think that they will be accepted a lot of times. A lot of times they're so close to family that they can't leave family.

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.