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Preserving Native Traditions

Value Added: Efforts are underway in Oklahoma to help educate Ponca tribal youth and the general public about Ponca traditions to preserve their rich culture.
Preserving Native Traditions

Preserving Native Traditions

For more information visit these links:

Ponca Tribe of Oklahoma

Southern Ponca Digital Media Club Videos

Show Details

Show 1648: Preserving Native Traditions
Air Date: November 27, 2016



Rob McClendon: Well, when not properly protected and preserved, traditions that have lasted the millennia can, just in the matter of generations, quickly disappear. That’s why work continues to preserve our native traditions. Joining me now is our Andy Barth.

Andy Barth: Well, Rob, native traditions run deep here in Oklahoma. From pow wows to cultural centers, Native Americans have a rich culture to share with everyone. And students from the Ponca Nation are working to preserve the culture they call their own.

[pow wow music].

From drumming to dancing, the Ponca pow wow showcases its rich heritage and traditions.

Athena Smith: It’s just a really cool experience.

Andy: Athena Smith is one of four students working to preserve the Ponca Nation’s heritage. She interviewed the tribe’s town crier, an honorary lifetime position whose duty is to call the different dances during the pow wow.

Athena: I felt that it was really cool hearing his knowledge and hearing his intake on being the camp crier since there hasn’t been one for a long time.

Andy: Tom Fields is teaching these students how to preserve the Ponca traditions using digital media.

Tom Fields: We got a small grant through a video project with Vision Maker, the Native American public television group.

Andy: Using technology to learn their culture.

Tom: I want them to learn how to tell a story using digital media. And stories that I would hope they find are in their own family, in their own tribe. These students are learning a lot about their history and culture. Using the Mac computers, using the little cameras, they’re learning how to plan, organize and put together a story.

Andy: And for Fields, preserving this heritage is vital for the future of the Ponca Nation.

Tom: Because it only takes one or two generations to really lose everything. And the way our traditions and native culture is, it really contains a lot of things that help one survive the world.

Andy: Sarah Nelsen is the educational director for the Ponca Nation and says Ponca youth are losing their customs and traditions.

Sarah nelson: Not everybody just sits around the family table and talks Ponca and tells Ponca stories. A lot of them they don’t have any elders to talk to. There’s a lot of political rivalry in the tribes to where they can’t go outside to other elders. It’s just like any other culture; they’re just having a hard time getting together.

Andy: And for student Tyrese Hinman, he’s ready to reclaim his heritage.

Tyrese Hinman: Not very many of us know a lot about it. A lot of us don’t even know our language. I’m trying to learn the Ponca language right now, but from Athena’s dad, and I’ve only got so far.

Andy: Preserving customs that have spanned generations.

Sarah: Even though we work real deep with the culture and everything, it doesn’t matter what color you are; what matters is you find out who you are.

[pow wow music].

Andy: Well, now once finished, the Ponca students will debut their work during a community event.

Rob: All right, Andy, thank you so much. I appreciate it. Now, if you would like to see more on Native American culture, we have a story with a noted Oklahoma family of Indian flute players streaming on our website under our value added section.