$500,000 grant to digitize records, preserve culture of the Three Affiliated Tribes

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Two local higher institutions received grant money to help preserve the culture of the Three Affiliated Tribes.

Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish College and the University of North Dakota got a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Some of that money will be used to digitize their records.

The purpose is to preserve the language and culture of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara tribes.

NHSC President Twyla Baker said that this project is important for preserving culture.

“This is kind of what I got into education for, because of this enormous body of indigenous knowledge that exists here and the benefits that I know exist there for future generations.”

Faculty and students will also be trained on how to interview elders and how to collect other information.

Food Sovereignty Director, Ruth Plenty Sweetgrass-She Kills, said this preservation project is important because it builds relationships with UND and other state institutions.

“It’s also a very critical project because it’s the preservation and perpetuation, or revitalization of the Nueta Hidatsa Sahnish’s people’s culture, language, our seeds,” Plenty Sweetgrass-She Kills.

The Vice President of Student Services said it makes her happy to know this project will impact a lot of people.

“It makes me feel great, honestly, it makes me feel professional and that we’re providing what we can for our students, for our faculty, our staff, and our community,” said Constance “Connie” King-Gottschall.

The grant also provides funding for a traditional food skills lab.

Plenty Sweetgrass-She Kills said that food and gardening have always been a part of the culture of the Three Affiliated Tribes.

“We, because of our gardens, were a trade center and so it made sense to also include that as part of our goals for the preservation and perpetuation of knowledge.”

She also says that food is important for the identities of tribal members.

“Not only are you feeding your body, but you’re also feeding some of those parts of your identity that you can’t get at your local grocery store.”

The grant money will be split between the two schools, with NHSC getting 60%.

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