Early Native Americans honored their elders and survived by building their homes from dead materials, according to Nakima Geimausaddle.
Geimausaddle is a member of the Lakota tribe and part of Celebrating Traditions, a non-profit organization based out of Oklahoma, which travels internationally, telling people about Native American culture to raise funds for veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
“This society says once you hit 65 or 70, you’re not useful anymore,” Geimausaddle said to her small audience Tuesday afternoon. “Our society says when you’re 65 or 70, you’re wise and we want to learn from you, so we honor you.”
ENMU is hosting numerous events this month for Native American Heritage Month.
Geimausaddle and her husband, Kenneth, set up a teepee Tuesday in front of the Dallan Sanders Patio at Eastern New Mexico University. Geimausaddle told her audience about Native Americans having built their homes from dead trees, because live ones would warp with rain and produce sap.
“They only took dead things because they were very resourceful,” she said. “Thursday, you’ll find out how economical this thing is.”
She pointed to the teepee.
Geimausaddle told her audience they would have to come back for her Thursday teepee presentation if they wanted to know more.
Visiting ENMU with Geimausaddle is 12-year-old Jhonnda Marie Blackowl, who is training to be the Crossed Arrow Society Princess, a title which represents all of the nation’s Native American tribes in their service to veterans.
“I think that everything should be honored and celebrated, because if you don’t honor it, people could be offended and what if someone dishonored your nation or culture,” Blackowl said. “I went to pow wows when I was little and I would watch all the princes and princesses and how honored they were, and I wanted to be like that.”
Along with the Tuesday afternoon teepee raising, ENMU has also had visits from Michelle Lowden, who makes Native American jewelry by hand, and University of New Mexico Native American faculty members and students.
“A lot of people have turned out. We usually have at least 20 people at each event and at the veterans day one, we had 50 plus people,” said ENMU student Bobbi Touchin, American Heritage Month events coordinator. “Tomorrow’s Thanksgiving potluck, we’re having more than 130 people. It’s going to be the biggest one we’ve had. Ever since I got here, the Native American events have grown each year.”
The library at Clovis Community College is also hosting a Native American Heritage display throughout the month of November.