Dakota Values and Games


Erich with tribal council representative

Our cultural consultant, Dr. Longie, wrote:

“My mother, a fluent Dakota language speaker, said this about her beloved Dakota language: “It’s very descriptive; you say what you mean and you mean what you say.”

This inherent honesty in our Dakota/Lakota/Nakota language made it hard for a Dakota person to be untruthful. This honesty prompted George Catlin, an artist who spent time among Indian tribes in the early 1800s to state: “I love a people who are honest without laws.”

….

People have asked, Why haven’t we held press conferences, hired lawyers, given speeches and so on? Because it is not our way. Although we are firmly against the name, we don’t want to drag others into it and have them fight our fight for us.

…. many of us are uncomfortable with that un-Dakota type of behavior.

And, we have seen how divisive this issue is on our reservations. We all have to live here together; we want to get along with everyone.”

How do these Dakota values work into our games?  As we are working on our third game, a major emphasis, along with math, is teaching values. Erich often says that these values – courage, honesty, perseverance – are not limited to any one tribe. In visiting, Turtle Mountain College, on an Ojibwe (Chippewa) reservation you will see the Seven Teachings carved into stone, pretty much the same values that Erich is discussing.

His other point is that a culture isn’t just dances and songs. It’s much more than that, including values. We are working on adding more of this to our existing games as well. For example, a video clip that explains why Tasina and Hoksinato felt an obligation to bring back herbs for everyone who was sick, not just their own families. Learning to love their relatives, to be generous, is part of what children were taught. You can learn more than math in a math game.

(You still need to bring back the right number of herbs.)

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* This post is quoted from a longer piece written by Dr. Erich Longie, Senior Cultural Consultant for 7 Generation Games on the topic of the Fighting Sioux nickname, originally published here on February 27, 2012. Erich is part of the founding team of 7 Generation Games and oversees our cultural staff to ensure all cultural content is vetted and historically and culturally accurate. He is a long-time educator – having taught at every level from elementary school to college – and an enrolled member of the Spirit Lake Dakota.

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