The Black Hills and surrounding areas are covered in lush forests, vegetation and farmland. From towering pine trees to extraordinary wildlife, this region offers unparalleled bounty. This area is not simply affiliated with the organic beauty of nature, it is brimming with Native American culture and heritage.
Jeremy Red Eagle, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, will join the Sanford Underground Research Facility (Sanford Lab) during virtual Neutrino Day to share an in-depth discussion about Native American activities and how they help increase the understanding of culture, language and history.
Red Eagle will connect for a live interview on July 6 at 1:00 p.m. (MT), and will also make available a diverse array of traditional Dakota and Ojibwe games, available under the anytime activities tab on our virtual Neutrino Day hub, www.neutrinoday.com.
A rich heritage
Red Eagle, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate on the Lake Traverse Reservation, descends from the Wahpekute (Shooters among the Trees) and Wahpetuwan (Dwellers among the Leaves) people of the Toka Nuwan (Enemy Swim) community. He also has ancestral ties to the Fort Peck and Fort Belknap reservations in Montana.
As the Program Director for the Dakota Language Institute, where he has been learning, teaching and documenting the Dakota language for the past six years, Red Eagle works closely with Native American youth from all over Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and Minnesota to help them better understand their culture and history.
Red Eagle began his work in this area through the International Traditional Games Society, which is based in Browning, Montana and is dedicated to the recovery, restoration and re-introduction of Native American Indian Games. He is currently working on integrating the Dakota language with knowledge of traditional games.
“[The International Traditional Games Society] was like me kind of ‘getting my foot in the door’ of doing youth work,” Red Eagle said.
Red Eagle has since become one of the main instructors, inspiring youth to learn more about their Native American heritage. As his own passion and expertise have grown, so has his potential to embolden others— continuing on a personal journey of learning and sharing.
One of the many methods Red Eagle uses to reach youth is to incorporate ancestral values and history into traditional Native games and activities.
Referencing the late Wilmer Mesteth, a well-known spiritual leader in Pine Ridge, Red Eagle explained the belief that when we were first put on this earth, we came from a spiritual world into a physical world and were given these games to teach us how to survive in this world.
“All of these games that we have, there is something connected to it,” Red Eagle said. “There are lessons in them, there are teachings in them.”
Although these games are what gave him his start and provides a sturdy foundation for his youth work, his outreach extends beyond these activities.
Ever since he was young, Red Eagle has always been interested in crafting. As he got older, he found special interest in the ability to use the authentic materials his ancestors would have used in these processes and the cultural protocols associated with them. His passion has led to once-in-a-lifetime experiences, from his work with the youth to hand crafting bows and arrows to an artist residency with the Minnesota Historical Society.
The artist-in-residence program in Minnesota allowed Red Eagle to visit museums and further research the work he was doing— further expanding the reach of his passion and expertise. In this residency, Red Eagle focused on items relevant to young Dakota men, including games, bows and arrows, weapons, tools, dance regalia and more.
“It is hard to find people who have knowledge of this stuff anymore,” Red Eagle said, “so you really have to put a lot of work into it, going to museums and researching things.”
Traditional games with cultural significance
During Neutrino Day, he will share these lessons and teachings with children and adults, Native and non-Native peoples, alike, with the intention of spreading knowledge and awareness.
Through a series of pre-recorded videos, Red Eagle will demonstrate traditional Dakota and Ojibwe games, sharing the purpose and history behind these activities. These videos will display a variety of activities including Tahuka canhdeska (hoop and arrow), takapsica (shinny), spinning tops, ring and pin and more.
Participants can benefit in a vast range of ways from learning and participating in traditional Native American games, including spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally, Red Eagle said.
To enjoy these benefits and share in Red Eagle’s knowledge and passion for Native American heritage, join us on our Neutrino Day Hub at www.neutrinoday.com.