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Indigenous 101 - North Dakota Essential Understandings




“Contrary to Hollywood’s definition of beauty, the more wrinkles our elders have,
the more beautiful they become to us. The lines of their faces are indicators
of life lessons and wise journeys” -Levi Rickert, 2020

The North Dakota Department of Instruction began the North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding (NDNAEU) project in April 2015. During this gathering of elders in Bismarck, North Dakota tribal representatives came together to provide storytelling and conversations about Native culture, history, and other essentials in creating greater understanding within non-Native cultures and in effort to live in community together.

Elder respect is foundational within most Indigenous communities, family structures, and societal development. It is a longstanding value that Indigenous people honor, respect, and revere their older generations and is ingrained in early childhood. Indigenous communities utilize the word “elder” over “senior citizens” to distinguish them as high-status individuals. Elders are seen as the most beautiful piece of Native culture, and they have an intrinsic value worth far more than dollars and cents.

Earlier in this Series, we discussed the significance of verbal storytelling (rather than record-keeping or formal writings) within Indigenous cultures as the primary source of keeping and sharing history. Elders serve a principal and honored role in the lives of all Indigenous people because they are the keepers of those histories, serving as a living library to carry forward the knowledge, wisdom, and lessons that guide one generation to the next.



Click here to access the North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding website for extensive information on the project.





North Dakota Native American Essential Understanding (NDNAEU) provides excellent lesson plans for North Dakota educators to utilize and access at any time!
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