The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Family, honor, community esteemed in Native American culture

Diamond Mitchem

The granddaughter of a Comanche, a NE academic advisor shared with NE students Nov. 20 the stories he had told her of his life.

“Most elders are silent about experiences,” Marjeanna Burge said.

This is partially a result of some of the trauma they experienced as children. The 1800s brought the rise of Indian boarding schools, which were used to eliminate Indian culture, Burge said.

“Children as young as 4 to 5 years old were taken,” she said.

Many children were taken far away from their homes in efforts to separate them from their original identity for as long as three years at a time, Burge said.

“All elements of Native identity [were] stripped,” she said, including their language and names.

Despite attempts to destroy Native American culture, an estimated 2.1 million Indians live in America today in more than 500 federally recognized tribes with various diets and living patterns, Burge said. American Indians have dual citizenship.

“Tribal nations are sovereign,” she said.

They have their own elected leaders, trust agreements and jurisdiction. This jurisdiction does not extend to people outside the Native American family. Consequently, Burge said, Indian reservations can become victims of crime and drug cartels.

The tribes hold honesty, honor, family and community in high regard, Burge said.

“The word was a bond and had to be earned,” she said. “Honor was established according to actions.”

Some of these actions were “giveaways” and “powwows,” Burge said. Indians celebrated acts of kindness and anniversaries of death by giving gifts to one another, strengthening community ties.

“Family and community were key to survival,” she said.

How much one gave to others was an indicator of character, Burge said.

“It is our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome,” she said, quoting a Sioux Indian.

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