I am proud of the beauty that is naturally prominent within my culture; I am proud that I can dance and sing to the words of my ancestors; I am proud to be Native American.
By: Riley Werk, Aaniiih & Nakoda, Junior at Hays/LodgePole High School
Há mikonabi! My name is Riley Werk, I am Aaniiih and Nakoda of the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana. As you may know, November is Native American Heritage Month, and I would like to share what it means to me.
Growing up within Indian country, I have learned so much about my culture, as well as other Native cultures. I learned the different traditions within both of my tribes; the gender roles in ceremony, the different types of ceremonies, how to prepare traditional foods, etc.
For example, the men and young boys are required to serve during traditional feeds, and they must only go in a clockwise direction. The women are required to prepare the food and set up the lodges, or tipis. Women have a majority of the responsibility within the camp, like setting up camp, preparing the food, gutting and skinning the buffalo and deer after a hunt, etc. The men, however, must go and hunt and fight in battle. The men are mostly the ones responsible for ceremonies as well. Overtime, I have learned the different requirements for different ceremonies, and what is good or bad.
Personally, I think that this knowledge about my culture makes me even more proud than I was before, and I am always eager to learn more about it. Native American culture is something that I not only embrace during Native American Heritage Month, Native American Day, or any other time when everyone else is; I am proud to be Native American every single day.
Below is a link to a video of Mineksi, Kenneth ̈Tuffy ̈ Helgeson. He talks about the different aspects of our culture and how important we are to the Earth.
I am proud of how far we have come through all of the historical hardships my ancestors had to endure, so that I can be where I am today; I am proud of the beauty that is naturally prominent within my culture; I am proud that I can dance and sing to the words of my ancestors; I am proud to be Native American.
Riley Werk, A’aniiih & Nakoda, is a junior at Hays/Lodgepole High school. She enjoys partaking in leadership activities in her community, serving as president of the Tiwahe Youth Leadership Council of Hays, the AIBL chapter and Youth Leadership Council at Hays/Lodgepole.