When people ask me about my nationality, I typically respond by telling them I am an American, because, as far as I am concerned, that defines who I am. After all, at least the past two generations of my ancestors were born here.
Yet, I know when they ask what they want to know is what other ethnic groups are represented in the blood that flows through my veins.
I started thinking about my heritage recently as I was able to experience in a variety of venues those who know and express pride in their heritage as Native Americans. Specifically members of the Dakota tribe (those who call the Lower Sioux Community home or who live in the immediate area surrounding it) – like Grace Goldtooth-Campos – taught me a lot as I observed everything from lessons about music to food.
No, she said fry bread is not a traditional Dakota food, but it is definitely a staple of the Dakota today, as it was something made with the meager food items her ancestors received in the form of government commodities.
I was able to sample some of that contemporary fry bread as a few of the Dakota elder grandmothers made it. Let me tell you this, fry bread when it is still hot is fantastic. I also experienced another more traditional food that was made up of dried meat, corn and berries. It was pretty good, but I’m not sure I’d request it.
Of course, I am pretty sure if Grace was offered the lutefisk that has been part of my upbringing she would willingly give it a try but may not ever want to consume it again.
Traditions often include what I would call acquired tastes.
So, the conversations I have had during Native American Heritage Month inspired me to learn more about what makes me who I am.
I know I have lots of German in my makeup (the “Krause” kind of gives that away), with other ethnicities, such as English, Dutch, Scottish, Icelandic and many others in the mix.
I believe they call what I am a Heinz 57 breed.
Having spent a few years learning about the German culture from the great Heinz Janning, I am pretty well versed in that part of my heritage.
I also was able to experience Germany firsthand during an exchange in Summer 1990.
So, I have a lot to learn in the months to come about the other cultures which are represented in my gene pool.
I think I may be having some interesting genealogy conversations with my friend Molly at the library and may be asking a lot of questions of those elder family members who can tell me why I am who I am.
Page 2 of 2 - Of course there is not enough time in my life to explain all of what makes Troy Krause tick.
That goes far beyond any ethnic explanation.
I had a wonderful conversation over a cup of coffee with Cinda Kohls of Las Vegas, Nev. earlier this week about a book she recently wrote and had published. Originally from Belview, Kohls shared some of her fond memories of life in small-town Minnesota and how life led her to write a book that strongly reflects her faith. She also gave me a copy of her book, which I am finishing today with the intent of writing an article for Monday’s paper about “The Narrow Gate.”
In the meantime, Kohls is going to be offering her books to the public tonight in Belview at the community center from 3-7 p.m. She is going to be doing a reading and autographing copies she has for sale.
Let me say I have enjoyed the book so far and am looking forward to finishing this column so I can find out how it ends.