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More Than Just a Food Source

Through a partnership between The Nebraska Indian Community College and the USDA Tribal Extension, Jim Hallum of Santee, NE works to strengthen and preserve Native values with a traditional buffalo harvest on a ranch just off of CR-C80 in Sioux City, Iowa. Dozens of Native and Non-Native community members from over ten tribal areas, gather to learn and preserve the old ways of living. “We are teaching people how to live again.” Explains Jim Hallum, as he speaks passionately about the sacredness of the buffalo to Native people. 

Today, throughout urban communities and on Indian land, much of the primary food source is processed by aiding chemicals and preservatives then packaged, for convenience. Through this process, much of the nutritional value and health benefits are lost, which contributes to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and various forms of cancer that we find so prevalent within today’s society. “Back then, we had none of these troubles. The buffalo provided for our needs.” Jim added. 

Every day, the cost of our conveniences is being realized and although current trending now favors organic and healthier foods, much more needs to be done. 

The bison signified more than a food source for Native peoples. Language instructor at the Nebraska Indian Community College, respected elder and event speaker Alice Saunsoci of Macy, NE added, “The buffalo represented life.” This relationship perspective was shared through stories of Native peoples and their deep connection with the buffalo, by Alice and many other respected speakers at this event.

If you would like to learn more about The Nebraska Indian Community College’s efforts to preserve traditional values and cultures through education or wish to contribute toward the continuation of these types of events please send an email at info@thenicc.edu.

Listening to our Elders

In today’s rapid paced, high tech, internet connected and mobile communicating world we often overlook one of the most important elements of learning, listening. I was lucky to have an opportunity to sit and listen to elder and veteran Charles Lonewolf of the Umonhon tribe, a familiar face at NICC’s South Sioux City campus. His Umonhon name is Te huton bi which means Buffalo Makes Noise. Charles was born at home in Walthill which was very common according to Charles because a team of horses and a wagon were the main transportation at the time. He can remember when highways 77 and 75 were just wagon trails and had fond memories about the sense of community at the natural springs that watered the horses along the road. His young days were spent down by the Missouri river where he would gather gooseberries, raspberries, plums and apples from the timbers for his grandmother to make pies with. She would sell pies to the men working on channelizing the river for extra money for the family. Charles happily recalled memories of his early days playing in the timbers and the old abandoned Mission building.

At about five years of age, Charles was sent to boarding school. He reflected on the experiences of his elders at the old style boarding schools and is thankful that the military style approach to teaching his elders endured at the old style boarding schools was being phased out when he began attending boarding school. Charles considers himself lucky that he attended boarding school during the new era of boarding schools which was turning away from the military style of education. Charles stated: “the old days were much harder, but we faced similar problems then that we face today.” Charles sees positive changes for young people, “Things are more open to young people now, they have access to the languages, ceremonies, social programs and community. They also have options. When we were young there were few options for us. Families today have a lot of opportunities; I hope they appreciate the freedom of mobility and access to education that our elders didn’t have.”

I asked Charles what advice he would have for students and he shared some of his thoughts about what has helped him through the years. These are some of Charles’ words of wisdom.

1. Make good choices and decisions- it is up to you to choose your path.

2. If you start something finish it-respect yourself and your people

3. Have a goal, make plans and take on responsibility

4. Don’t do things halfheartedly- you only get back what you put into something

5. Your children depend on you- Be responsible and make good decisions for their sake

6. Be careful of the legacy of Alcohol- be aware and respect the cycle of alcoholism

7. Nobody owes you anything- you are in charge of your own destiny

8. If you have the right attitude, the right mind-set, and determination, you will reach your goals

9. The warrior tradition is important of our tradition- the eagle feathers are earned for bravery and protecting the people. Today men and women can be warriors. When you complete something, you have earned it, and no one can take that away from you. When you earn that degree, you have earned that honor, it is yours. Go in a good way as a modern warrior. Charles is a military veteran who has spent 40 years working in social services to better the lives of Native Americans, and raised a family and currently lives in South Sioux City. We all need guidance and Charles Lonewolf said: “if any students need advice they can call on me.” In today’s fast paced society we need to respect the importance of listening to our elders. 


Student Recognition Brian Morris

Brian Morris, Vice President of the Student Senate sets the bar high as an example for others. Brian’s academic work has developed a spot light for others to follow as his light shines bright with straight A’s last semester. Brian was born and raised in Omaha, NE. He went to junior high in Omaha but had difficulty and went to ISC, an alternative school, until 11th grade. He then pursued his GED and received it in 1993. Brian has three children in Omaha and one in Santee. This is his second semester at NICC. His grade point average is 3.9. Brian also currently helps in the library in the work study program. His goal is to be an alcohol counselor. He likes to sing at the drum and follow his traditional ways. He is an enrolled tribal member of the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska. Great work, Brian we are excited to see your efforts rewarded.