While many people are proud and aware of their ancestry, and even more so with the popular internet options like ancestry.com, many do not think about why they are proud of their ancestry or still more, do not take the time to explain their ancestry to the next generation.
Jeremy Fields presented at Dupree School, and his first question to the students was, ‘Why are you proud of your ancestry?’
Fields explained that ancestry is a huge part of your identity and that people should know why they are proud of who they are or where their ancestry originates.
Students answered Fields’ question in a variety of ways, including that their ancestors had good food and people today still enjoy it, that their ancestors were warriors, that music was a big part of their ancestry through powwows, and that their Lakota language makes people today feel like they belong.
While those are ways that many people connect with their heritage, Fields shared that those were primarily “outside of yourself” and that “culture is more than colors and fancy beaded dresses.” To feel and connect at a deeper level with ancestors, people have to try and really picture what our ancestors all went through and experience some of those traditions.
Fields shared that all ancestors are “amazing people because they went through” — or what they did to prepare things for future generations.
Looking at old photographs is one thing that Fields suggested to the students, because the process can help them “see the strength in their ancestors.”
Those ancestors sacrificed all they had in order to preserve their traditions and carry forward.
For the Native students present, he recommended going to a traditional sweat as that is a great sample of the challenge and strength given to the Lakota by their ancestors.
Sweats also teach a person what he or she can handle and how to stick things out even when the experience is really difficult. Tenacity helps a person become “empowered and gain strength.”
The sweats also help provide people with “insight to strengths, motivation, expectations, respect, and success in the future.”
In his past, Fields said he loved being around his family and learning about his ancestry and really loves to watch people laugh and joke.
He was given some great opportunities through his art, music and dancing, and he took advantage of each opportunity while at the same time taking risks, and those choices have helped him succeed.
One thing he took with him from his uncles that he has applied throughout his life is that a person should “never let anyone see you at less than your best.”
Lastly, he did some fun games with the students and then he reminded them that as a Native, or any race, always carry your ancestry with you –not just when at a pow wow or in regalia, and that you need to feel it and know it.
Jeremy Fields was brought in to speak this November, which wasNative American Heritage Month.
The Dupree School JOM Board brought in Fields to present to the PreK-12th grade students and staff. Fields is a motivational speaker and trains groups ranging from youth to professional staff during retreats.
Since he is a tribal member and grew up in a reservation area, having family ties to tribes in Oklahoma and Montana, he can relate to issues that students may be going through on the Cheyenne-River Reservation.