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Transcript: Native Voices Traveling Exhibit North Dakota Launch

June 12, 2014

[Vocalizing and drumming]

[Narrator:] The National Library of Medicine spent four years collecting Native peoples' stories about health and illness from all over the country. Now the NLM is returning to the communities that contributed their stories by way of a traveling version of the Native Voices: Native Peoples' Concepts of Health and Illness exhibition.

[Chanting and drumming]

The Spirit Lake Nation was the first stop on a nationwide tour that will include Indian reservations, Native health and cultural centers, and regional medical libraries.

[Dr. Cynthia Lindquist:] Over 150 Native people were interviewed for this exhibit from across Indian country including Native Hawaiians. This includes tribal leaders, tribal elders, spiritual people, medicine people. It's a wonderful show this morning -- We're going to be opening the Native Voices exhibit.


[Dr. Donald Lindberg:] In Indian Country and Alaska and Hawaii we found that all three peoples have much to teach us about health and prevention of illness and managing life. So we put together the exhibition really to make public some of the good ideas and some of the good accomplishments of Native American peoples and to be shared amongst them and also in the general population.

[Narrator:] The traveling version is smaller in size than the Native Voices Exhibition at the National Library of Medicine in Bethesda, but it contains all of the video interviews of the original presented on iPads with accompanying banners.

[Myron Wanna, Jr.:] I think it's important for us as Native People to finally speak out and be heard, so I think it's a great opportunity for many of us to share our stories because we have a lot of stories that need to be shared.

[Narrator:] The Native Voices traveling exhibition displays personal stories from tribal leaders, healers, and Native physicians who can serve as role models for young people living on reservations.

[Dr. Lindberg:] The only sort of hidden agenda item for me is that I wish that we could all do something to encourage more Native Americans in health care, medical professions. It has to start early. Lift your eyes. Let your goals be high. I think that this tribal college is trying to do exactly that.

[Narrator:] Cankdeska Cikana Community College is the home college of the Spirit Lake Tribe in Fort Totten, North Dakota. Under the leadership of College President Dr. Cynthia Lindquist the college has evolved from purely vocational studies to more academically oriented programs.

[Eunice Davidson:] My grandmother Alvina Alberts was very instrumental in starting the college. She said 'tatanka' used to be our food -- being buffalo. But now she said the 'tatanka' is through education and that's what we have to go after.

[Narrator:] The Native Voices traveling exhibition provides an opportunity for local communities to showcase their own traditions and cultural offerings. The grand opening at Cankdeska Cikana was the finale to a week of healing events at the college. Healers traveled from all over the Dakotas to participate in panel discussions, and students enjoyed movies featuring Native American actors. The North Dakota Museum of Arts Songs for Spirit Lake Exhibit was displayed on the campus where it landed after a successful run in New York City. In Songs for Spirit Lake, six artists explore how people live within the landscape, who the people are, and how they join the past and present in life today. Three, two -- [speaking in Native language] I am proud. My name is Jada-lanji [phonetic].

[Narrator:] Members of the Spirit Lake community contributed their own stories to the week of festivities. through a companion digital storytelling program produced by nDigiDreams.

[Brenda Manuelito:] I think a lot of the stories that we tend to hear about ourselves, we tend to memorialize the past and this is really celebrating the present, that we're still here. We're still alive. We're still doing what has been taught us, what has been given to us through our culture.

[Narrator:] Following the North Dakota launch Native Voices will travel to sites in Hawaii, Alaska, Seattle, and Oklahoma and then to additional sites nationwide.

[Eunice Davidson:] I think it's wonderful because the Indian people for whatever reason never really talk about things. And I think it's really important that we leave our history with whoever we can, for our children, our grandchildren, and I think if anything it can bring Indian Country closer together.

[Flute and drum music playing]

Last Reviewed: June 12, 2014