Native American Festival Teaches Culture

The Fargo Public Library hosted the first Native American Festival and Education series with the partnership of the Native American Commission, Cultural Diversity Resources and the Plains Arts Museum along with many other volunteers and sponsors from Saturday, Nov. 4 to Wednesday, Nov. 8.

Anyone was welcome to attend the events for free due to the donations of Knight Printing and Bell Bank. Two individuals that had a role in the festival, Diane Briggs and Melisa Duncan, were at the library to describe the event.

“Culture Diversity (Resources) and the Fargo Public Library have been involved in developing cultural programs and events that feature cultures that are not the traditional cultures that we have living here,” Briggs said. “The idea of the program is to give history and cultural information to people who are not familiar with that culture. I said to one of the partners, Cultural Diversity Resources, that we omitted the first culture. We need to do something on Native Americans.”

The event started at 10 a.m. Nov. 4 with an introduction and “Native American Welcome.” Other aspects of the event included the Buffalo River Singers, speakers, story tellers, musicians and a Native American food tasting and sampling that was cooked by members of the Daughters of the Earth and featured bison meat that was donated by Spirt Lake Tribe.

“We included what we call ‘A Taste Of,’ meaning they would bring samples of the food from that culture and often do language, like a few key words,” Briggs said.

Briggs and Duncan both explain how it was very important to have Native Americans from many different regions to be involved in the planning to ensure there is authentic programing.

“It was important to have partners with it so we did do it accurately,” Duncan said. “In something that we would be featuring, the cultural programing would include the history; it would include an education factor to it for the entire community. Realizing too that each tribe has their own specific cultural traditions that would differ, we realized we wanted to be as inclusive of the whole nation as possible.”

Briggs said that the partners that worked together to make these events happen wanted to do so in a way that it can be considered as a yearly or biyearly event. She was happy to say that it was a big event that garnered the attention of many people.

“There is so much to know and, truly, right now, it feels like, coming from someone who hasn’t been in school for a while, what I do remember from school is that we didn’t learn nearly enough about the first Americans,” Duncan said. “That isn’t really covered or at least it isn’t covered accurately.”

There are two Native American exhibits in the North Dakota State Art Gallery on the second floor of the Memorial Union until Nov. 16. “Native Voices” will be an interactive exhibit that showcases how wellness and illness have become connected with the cultural life of Native Americans. “Standing Rock” is a group exhibit that allows the viewer to take a deeper look into the impact of the Dakota Access Pipeline on the people and the surrounding area.

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