Wisdom Whisperers, pt. 2: Native elders share stories, advice and knowledge | FirstNationsFocus.com

Wisdom Whisperers, pt. 2: Native elders share stories, advice and knowledge

Bethany Sam

First Nation’s Focus

Northern Nevada Native American elders are pictured recently at the Reno-Sparks Indian Colony. Front row, from left: Marlyn Melendez, Vincent Stewart, Janice Stump, Linda Jones and James Thomas. Back Row, from left: Gene Evans, Edith Eben, Juanita Sampson, Brenda Stewart, Kevin Andrews, Angela Reid, Mary Lou Shorthorn and Steve Sewell.
Photo: Bethany Sam

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Beginning this month, First Nation’s Focus is now publishing a regular section called “Wisdom Whisperers,” wherein all elders are encouraged to share stories, traditional and cultural knowledge, advice, and more. If you’re an elder and would like to share your wisdom, contact First Nation’s Focus Business Development Manager Bethany Sam (Hunkpapa Dakota Sioux, Kuiza-tika-ah Lee Vining Paiute, Washoe) at 775-297-1003 or email bethany@firstnationsfocus.com.

One of the greatest lessons a child can learn is to honor his or her Elders.

Our Elders have paid attention, gained knowledge and wisdom from life. During their childhood, they carefully watched and listened to ceremonies and traditions, and paid attention to the way their elders in their communities behaved.

Our Elders are libraries of knowledge, wisdom, understanding, history and tradition. Learning and receiving advice from our Wisdom Keepers, Elders, is a priceless gift.

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READ MORE: Read the first round of Wisdom Whisperers here.

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Our Native American/American Indian Elders and Ancestors persevered & prevailed through the toughest, roughest times in our history, so we, the younger generations, can live the way we do today.

Go back in time, 100 years or less or more. Imagine not being able to powwow and wear your regalia. Imagine secretively praying to Creator and speaking your traditional language in fear that you might be killed or imprisoned for doing so.

Imagine being forcibly removed from your family/community to attend Indian Boarding Schools to learn a new language, religion, and way of life. Imagine drinking from a segregated water fountain that was specified for “Indians Only.”

Imagine not being able to eat at a restaurant. Imagine running from the Calvary for your life, starving, having no rights until 1924, etc.

Our elders and ancestors endured, fought and survived for our future. They deserve to be respected and honored.

Read words of Wisdom from local Native American elders below.

Linda Eben-Jones

Tribal Affiliation: Paiute 

From: Reno-Sparks Indian Colony  

Age: 70

Parents: Marlene Moose from Fallon, NV & Tellivan Eben from Fort Bidwell, CA 

Grandparents: Howard Moose (FPST) from Fallon, NV & Dollie Davis Moose from Yerington, NV.

What have you been taught about respecting/listening to your elders? My grandparents taught me to be respectful to elders by showing me to acknowledge them and be patient with elders, to listen and learn as much as we can from them.  

Stories or advice you’d like to share with the youth? Learn indigenous knowledge (our own stories) because our school system only teaches western (non-native) knowledge! Here’s a story: During my working career, I was hired for a summer tribal program in Arizona to teach the students about how to sew a quilt. But as we started the class there were some students who were very distracting. We agreed to make a banner instead and talked about the history of their tribe. One boy said, why do we always talk about old stuff that happened long ago, I don’t want to talk about that, it’s boring and it’s stupid. I was kind of surprised at his response, but gave an overview of how his tribe fought for their land and how the elders saved their land from being lost. I explained how important tribal history is and if you lose your language, songs and spiritual, ways you lose the family connection to your lives. I was shocked to see how this young generation disrespected their elderly who took a stand against the government to save their tribe.

What can the youth do better? Learn to respect elders. Parents need to teach our youth to respect elders advice and knowledge! Because if they don’t, they will lose their culture!

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Brenda Nevers

Tribal Affiliation: Paiute Shoshone 

From: Reno, NV 

Age: A lady never tells her age. 

Parents: Warren & Adeline Stewart 

What have you been taught about respecting/listening to your elders? Right from the time babies are born is when they should be taught right from wrong.

Stories or advice you’d like to share with the youth? Respect your elders because one day, you will be an elder yourself. Treat them they way you would like to be treated.

What can the youth do better? Listen to your elders. Offer assistance when needed. You shouldn’t have to be asked to help when you see an elder doing something, no matter what it is.

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Janice Stump 

Tribal Affiliation: Northern Paiute

From: Reno-Sparks Indian Colony  

Age: 64

Parents: Marlene Moose from Fallon, NV & Tellivan Eben from Fort Bidwell, CA 

Grandparents: Howard Moose (FPST) from Fallon, NV & Dollie Davis Moose from Yerington, NV.

What have you been taught about respecting/listening to your elders? Take care of our elders. Keep them safe. Check their house, help them to keep clean. If you’re at your at an elder’s home, help them wash the dishes, laundry, stock up firewood, pick up the area, take out the garbage, etc. Show your elders you care about them!

Stories or advice you’d like to share with the youth? Listen to stories & instruction of crafts, traditional outfits, beadwork, stories of family outings, family events, family history. When traveling through or to other states, pay attention to the roads, where’s the next gas station, stores, restaurants, and most importantly where your relatives homes are on your way to a destination. We all know, we have family all over the country. Make sure to take the time to visit when you can.

What can the youth do better? Introduce yourself, help walk elders to car, make conversation about family or relatives. Ask your parents, who are my relatives? Help carry heavy items. Make a safety path in bad weather. Remember it’s OK to ask questions or help. Ask about beadwork, traditional regalia, family heirlooms; ask what it’s made of and where did you get supplies. Encourage yourself your learn beading, learn old songs, learn your culture and traditions.



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