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July 8: Teachings of Our Elders - "We Are Honored and So We Give"

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North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding, number three, is about sharing and generosity. It states: "Native people have rich traditions of sharing and generosity, which include gifting, shared meals, powwow gatherings, shared living spaces, and care for relatives, including the environment, natural resources and waters."

In this episode of Dakota Datebook, we'll listen to Dennis Fox, Jr., enrolled member of the Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara Nation in, "We Are Honored and So We Give."

Dennis Fox, Jr.:

That's like a lot of us that try to maintain ways of Mandan Hidatsa, Arikara. People understand that if you're honored with something that even... Where I work at the Three Affiliated Tribes, if they say, "Oh, your employee, you're going into retirement and we want to gift you with all these stuff," and you take it in a good way and they gift you and everything, but you as an Indian person realize they're honoring you.

And that honor that happens then means, well, I got to do something. I got to take this seriously. And so when I receive something, and it's not everybody, but when I receive something, okay, I really appreciate they give you a blanket, but I didn't expect this honor, so I'm going to give this blanket to usually an elder lady or elder man, or something. And I appreciate what you're doing for me, but in my way, I'm going to give it away because you're honoring me. So I'm given that and distributing those goods. Or I'm going to feed... I'm going to tell people that, "Boy, they honored me. I want you all to come eat with me." I'm going to feed at my camp and we'll feed everybody, because it's quite the honor that they honored me and it gave me employee the month, or whatever it was, but...

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.