Helene Circle Eagle, Michael Moore and Lavalla Moore, guests from Sitting Bull College on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation, visited South Dakota State University on Oct. 20, speaking with students about “Lakota Kinship and Language” at the American Indian Student Center on campus.
The talk, open to the public, was also sponsored by SDSU’s School of American and Global Studies and the Wokini Initiative, as part of a collaboration for the Introduction to American Indian and Indigenous Studies class.
Organizer Tasha Hauff, assistant professor in the School of American and Global Studies, said kinship is at the core of Lakota culture.
“Learning how to introduce yourself in Lakota involves more than just your name. It involves where you’re from, who your family is. This adds more context to why we do that. … The reason I think it’s important to invite our colleagues from tribal colleges is they specialize in these topics. And tribal colleges have a lot to offer,” Hauff said.
Circle Eagle told the audience members they each have a story to tell.
“Be proud of who you are. You are a special individual person, so carry yourself with honor and respect every day. Help each other. … These are our values,” she said.
Lavalla Moore offered examples of lessons she teaches her preschool students, which include the Lakota language, community, leadership and tipis. “I want them to learn who they are, where they come from, what family they come from.”
Michael Moore focused on the Lakota kinship system and how he teaches at the college level. He said identity is important to the Lakota people.
“None of us is an island that can survive without others. We depend on our families. … That’s why kinship was so important.
“It’s important to know who you are, who you come from, the important things that your ancestors have done for you to live in this space at this time,” he said.
Lakota language is one of the best represented languages, historically, in the written record from anthropologists and Native people themselves, he added. “They chose to write (about Lakota culture) to preserve it for future generations of Lakota people.”