Historic preservation is a way of life for Indigenous people across the U.S. and in North Dakota.
Dr. Erich Longie is the Spirit Lake Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. Thursday, he shared with a room of about 300 people the importance of preserving Native languages, sacred sites and more.
He said it’s all about passing history down to the next generation and dispelling common misconceptions about Indigenous culture along the way.
Dr. Longie said as this generation of elders passes away, there are fewer and fewer stories being passed down.
But there’s reason preservation has been a historical issue for tribes.
“Because of federal Indian policy, we were put on reservations, we were sent to boarding schools, we couldn’t practice our religion, we couldn’t speak our language. So those harmful policies almost eradicated our culture,” Dr. Longie shared.
He said much of that law is no longer enforced, making it important, now, to make up for the lost time.
He also asks that natives and non-natives alike educate themselves about the culture.