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DL Schools recognize National Native American Heritage Month

The Detroit Lakes Native American Education Programs is a supportive program that offers assistance with supplies, tutoring, culture and post secondary education planning.

The Culture Collaborative raises multicultural awareness and provides additional language learning opportunities to increase academic performance.

Throughout the district during the month of November, many classes received additional teachings about Native American heritage, culture, customs and history.

Rick Larson, an enrollee with the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and a local pipe carrier, presented to some middle school and high school students a mock sit down with the pipe. The red catlinite from the pipestone quarries is the second softest rock in the world, and it lies under Sioux quartzite, the second hardest rock in the world.

Only enrolled Native Americans are allowed to quarry for the stone at the Pipestone National Monument in Pipestone, Minn., and thus it is protected from over-mining. Rick stated that the smoke of the pipe is not intended to be inhaled and that the tobacco should be naturally grown. Rick also talked about his experience in dog mushing, his travels throughout the U.S., South America, Jamaica and Europe. He wanted to go to Norway, which is also part of his heritage.

Teresa Rojas, an enrollee with the White Earth Nation of Ojibwe and assist with the DL Drum and Dance Team presented to a number of classes about Regalia, or the clothing, beading, leather, ribbons etc., patterns worn during pow-wows and other ceremonies.

Regalia is definitely not a costume like for Halloween. It is way more special in that it expresses the personality of the person rather than disguises the person. Teresa, with the help of her second grade daughter Sophie, displayed and talked about a couple different styles of Regalia.

Fancy Shawl, which is a relatively new addition, started in the 1930-40s. Young women traded their blankets from their traditional regalia and replaced it with a shawl. The footwork evolved off of the men's fancy dance with more spinning and emulations of butterflies in flight.

The Jingle Dress is a very special dress with varying stories that it began in Wisconsin or Mille Lacs, Minn. According to oral history, an elder's dream showed him how to make the dress, what types of songs went with it and how the dance was performed. The dress was made for healing and the pretty sound of the jingles was to rejoice and be grateful for what you have.

Sophie demonstrated the regalia designs and did a short demonstration.

Joe Carrier, the school district coordinator, read to the elementary about eating healthy and staying active and that Native Americans have a history of being very active year around. He explained to some middle school students the important contributions made by Native Americans and also some of the traditions that have made the Native American culture unique.

"If I had to say one thing about what this month meant to me is this: Every child has a right to know their own heritage in that there is good in all. We should all teach our children to cherish their heritage(s)," Carrier said. "It's rather discouraging to hear people say they are a mutt. We're not dogs or in need of a pedigree.

"Or to hear someone say that their kid is a Heinz 57. These kinds of things are teaching our future that it's not that important. We should all be exploring information provided from our parents, grand parents, great grandparents and so on. We all have a story that is unique. Our heritage is our reflection of the past. If we don't reveal our heritage to our future with pride, it will no longer live on. Who are we then?"

There were many other small activities and teachings pertaining to the Native American culture throughout the fall, and for that, miigwetch (thank you) for partaking in the month's recognition.