Earlier this month, I submitted a blog discussing plans to observe Native American Heritage Month in South Dakota. USDA Rural Development South Dakota staff held a Native American interactive day on November 28, which included traditional teachings, significance of the circle, meal, a game of “all my relations” and Native Pictionary. Today marks the final day of Native American Heritage Month, 2012.
Native American Heritage month is an opportunity for learning and sharing of Native American culture. USDA staff were educated on the symbolism of the circle and its relevance to the Native American people with Rural Housing Specialist Ken Lynch reading a quote from Black Elk Holy Man of the Oglala Sioux; USDA Rural Development State Director Elsie Meeks provided comments in support of this event and traditional foods included smoked white fish, salmon, herring, and fish spread. The hand smoking with native hardwoods brings out the delicate flavor of these fish. Chicken, a wild rice dish, and squash was provided by Rural Housing Technician Hetti Cekalla and her husband Leroy. Also served were Indian fried bread, vegetables, dessert and drinks.
After the meal, a game called “all my relations” was played. In Native American tradition, we are all relation and this relation is part of a sacred circle. This ice breaking game creates a safe environment where the participants/relations share personal experiences and/or personal information to each other while enhancing the trust between team members and subsequently can improve the trust and teamwork of the group or agency as a whole.
Native American Pictionary was also played with the participants being divided into two teams competing against time and the other team. Native American related subjects were the topics for quick witted creative drawing in the attempt to get each team to guess the correct answer.
The event definitely fell within the scope of the Secretary’s Cultural Transformation Initiative and the opportunity for learning existed through these activities with Native American symbols, meanings, and importance of farming, agriculture and hunting for the Native American people.
To contact USDA about cultural transformation click here. To learn more about USDA’s outreach to Tribes click here. To read President Obama’s proclamation concerning Native American Heritage Month click here.