By: Rhonda LeValdo
I have been going over my time spent with relatives and elders this winter. Many were talking about our people losing touch with their ceremonies, day-to-day traditional activities and stories that were once told. One talked about how he slept on a dirt floor so that he was always in contact with Mother Earth.
He shook his head saying, a lot of our young people dont let their feet touch the dirt, they dont sleep on the dirt floor, they have lost that contact.
Even as something as small as this, to which direction to sleep, to praying- the urgency for our young people to learn is evident. Soon many of these people will be gone and so will these words that need to be passed down.
As we move into 2012, technology is impacting our Native People. From writing stories that go around the world, to broadcasting videos on You Tube, to web streaming to audiences who never had a conversation with a real Native American/ Indigenous person.
I encourage our Native communities to use the media to post your stories, make videos, and write blogs. We need the world to hear your voice. We need to let the world know we are still here and we are not going anywhere. We can use this to keep those stories alive, to keep our language and ancestors stories alive, and we dont necessarily have to post everything to the web. We can keep it private within our own communities so that those stories and or ceremonies stay within our people.
Everyday, we lose people within our own communities that make impacts greater than they ever realized. I attended the funeral of the late Adele Little Dog, of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe. She was a revered elder amongst her people for all the work she did to help children get a good education. She was the first Native American woman to receive a Masters degree in education from Black Hills State University. She used that degree to further her own people, and to make sure the next generation was taken care of however she could. She is one of our Last Real Indians, and as many people spoke about her they stated, Do what Adele did, make a difference in the lives of our people and become a leader. Adele Little Dog was a leader- a legacy. We need more like her. We need our people to finish what she started.
There are resources out there, use them! Ask others to help you as well. We are here to support the next generation. As an educator, I try to instill in my students the importance of making a difference. In our people, success is not measured by the amount of money we make, houses we buy, or cars we have. It is something we achieve by what we have done for our people.
As a journalist and media educator I challenge you all to write, videotape, and speak about your people. Ask, what can we do to make it better for the next generation? These stories need to be told and the audience is waiting.