Havre Daily News
Chippewa and Cree elders spoke with college students and others about retaining the tribe's cultures, languages and ways at the first Midwinter Cultural Fair at Stone Child College on Thursday.
Lloyd Top Sky, who helped coordinate the three-day event, said the fair was geared toward the tribe's younger generations, but others were also welcome. The fair will end today.
During a question-and-answer session, Top Sky said the tribe's youth are replacing traditional culture with what they see on television. He said the two types of music heard in vehicles on the reservation are hip-hop and powwow.
“But powwow is being twisted with out-of-range singing and out-of-range drums,” Top Sky said.
Panel member Charlie Gopher spoke about religion and spirituality. He said the tribe's religious beliefs are similar to Christianity in that they have the “same god and almost the same words.”
“Your Bible has many pages. Our sweet grass has many strands,” elder Videl Stump added.
Stump said everyone in the room was free to pick their own religion. But because he's a native person, it's important to him to keep his traditional ways.
“Most of you people consider yourself Chippewa Cree. The difference between you and me - I speak Cree language and you don't. I was raised with it,” Stump said.
“It's good to talk about these things with those who don't understand,” he added. Stump said he must deal with two ways of life: Indian society and white society. The elder said he goes to college to learn the white man's ways as a means of survival.
He said the younger people at the fair need to embrace their roots.
“They had buffalo meat here (at the cultural fair), but no one ate it. That was our way. They grabbed a sack lunch instead,” Stump said.
Samples of traditional food were available at the fair and included wild rice, pounded meat and assorted breads. A health educator spoke of the benefits of a traditional diet.
“Whatever made your ancestors healthy will probably make you healthy, too,” Cari Goebel-Frahm of Laredo said during her presentation. “We need to look at what we can do to re-establish what made our ancestors healthy.”
She said the traditional ways were healthier because people were more active and ate more fresh foods. Goebel-Frahm said diets today rely on too many processed foods, fatty meats and refined flours. She said diabetes and obesity, which are now problems for Native Americans, were rare when tribes ate their traditional foods of wild game and freshly picked fruits and vegetables.
Displays at the fair included arts and crafts, jewelry and games. Panels discussed language, spirituality and philosophy.
The fair runs through today and will end with a traditional round dance and feed at the Round Hall on Oats Road at 7 p.m.