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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • RASD youth learn about the Dakota way of life during heritage month

  • Students in the Redwood Area School District have been exposed to the culture of a group that makes up nearly 25 percent of their population in November as the nation recognizes Native American Heritage Month.
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  • What does it mean to be Native American?
    Students in the Redwood Area School District have been exposed to the culture of a group that makes up nearly 25 percent of their population in November as the nation recognizes Native American Heritage Month.
    “We are here to break down the barriers, especially ignorance,” said Grace Goldtooth-Campos, who is the tribal historic preservation officer for the Lower Sioux Com-munity. “We need to do what we can to have a better understanding of each other.”
    The month included a variety of activities to help students get a clearer picture of the Dakota way of life, including presentations focusing on different cultural aspects.
    The Redwood Area School District’s Indian Education program is actively involved in helping the Native American students learn their own culture. That education be-came more all inclusive during the past several weeks, as all students were able to try traditional and contemporary Dakota foods. They also learned more about the Native American culture during a lyceum featuring Kevin Locke who played traditional Native American flutes, sand and danced all the while telling stories and introducing the culture to the students.
    “These students are our future,” he said. “It is through them that we all have a job to understand each other.”
    Locke, who has been dancing, singing and playing music for 59 years, said there is a cultural disconnect that continues to exist, and now is the time for the next generation to take ownership of helping that come to an end.
    Jackie Probst, Pete Nez and Ruth Goodthunder, who are part of the RVMS /HS indian education program said their role not only includes helping students to learn their culture but also to succeed academically, as the graduation rate among Native American students continues to be one of the lowest in the nation. Probst said more than 40 percent of Native American students do not graduate.
    For Goldtooth-Campos, it is about helping the Dakota children take pride in who they are and for others to see the Dakota have something to offer.
    “When we can find pride in ourselves, we find our identity,” she said. “That is when things can change.”
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