Native Village
Youth and Education news
 MAY 1, 2010   VOLUME 2

Students celebrate untold native history
By Tony Overman

Condensed by Native Village

Washington: Recently, nearly 85 students learned about American Indian culture at the Nisqually Youth and Community Center. The event was put on by  Village to Village, a project that teaches students about other cultures.

Billy Franks Jr.  says there's a reason many people don't know much about American Indian history: it's not in the history books.

“Nobody really knows who we are. It’s not in the history books,” the Nisqually tribal member told area students.
“People only think of Native Americans as ‘back in the day,’” added his stepdaughter, Shakohwin Black Cloud, 17. “Every other culture is in the present.”

During the event, non-native students learned:
Traditional American Indian dances
Participated in wood carving, beading and weaving
Joined talking circles with American Indian students

Inside the talking circle, the Native and non-native youth discussed cultural stereotypes and media. Many students knew very little about American Indian culture.

"The stereotypes have grown worse and worse," said Christopher Gardipee, 18.  "The way people are raised and taught is coming out in a younger generation. We’re blind to (native] culture. It’s not something that should be kept from us.”

Franks also talked about helping lead a 1970s civil disobedience movement against the U.S. government. American Indians hoped to force the United States to uphold their tribal fishing rights as agreed upon in the 1800s.

“In order for us to get our rights, we had to be a little crazy,” Franks said.


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