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June 17: Teachings of Our Elders - Frances Cree's story of the sweat lodge

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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 JT Shining Oneside, enrolled member of the Turtle Mountain Band of the Chippewa Nation, as she shares Frances Cree's story of the sweat lodge.

JT Shining Oneside:

Frances Cree, old Eagle Heart from Dunseith, he shared how we got the sweat lodge. He told me this story when I was visiting him and, like a lot of the elders that I learned from, including my parents and my grandfather. They could be talking to you about anything, and then all of a sudden, a story would come in, something important, so you just always had to be ready.

I remember him saying there was this man that went out because the people were having a hard time, and he asked in the woods. He said, "I want to get help for my people because they're really having a hard time." He prayed, and he fasted. He looked up there, and he seen this bird in the nest. And told him, "I have been listening to your prayer and listening to you asking for help for your people. I'm honoring your request, and I'm going to help your people now. But you will have to respect the gift that you are given from me, and I'll continue to help your people."

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.