On June 13th 2023, the SVDN Lands department hosted second part of the Nation to Nation unity building event where elders from Ebb and Flow First Nation came to Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, exchanging cultural learnings and teachings with each other. We had a presentation on the Bison and emphasized the importance of soil protection and traditional grasses and how that will be instrumental on improving our species at risk animal, the Wood Bison, we house here in the nation, and improving their quality of life by reseeding the Bison pastures with the traditional grasses the Bison ate historically in the area.
The day started with Councilor Tony Tacan giving opening remarks and the transitioned into performances by our land team, Cora-Leigh Demas and Kolby Pratt delivering presentation on the white Buffalo lady. Our very own James Pratt research into the story was acquired and incorporated into the presentation with both versions being read to fully encompass the story and its origins and help cement the significance housing the 10 white Bison has on the Dakota Oyate and why its so culturally significant.
Katherine Whitecloud also gave a presentation on the importance of language being incorporated within all aspects of the educational experiences with our youth and schooling programs. This was reverberated back from the Ebb and Flow community, they felt they were ahead of many nations in this regard, this led to some interesting dialogue exchanges and Ebb and Flow expressed they felt they were able to achieve this feat by introducing it early on in the development of the child by introducing the language right in the home in the early years.
Darby Essie presented a slideshow introducing SVDN’s Chief & Council and important elders in the community along with the conservation and environmental side of the work to help facilitate the introduction of the reseeding process and the importance of the Wood Bison plan, on the biodiversity eco system in the Prairie grassland region. The wood bison are considered a key biodiversity species and are considered a threatened species.
CCP’s Brent Pratt gave a presentation on how his work helps establish the wants and needs of the community and how that helps Chief & Council to hear the will of the people. He gave some info packets on some of that work and how it has helped the community bridge gaps and establish a better way. He emphasized however not everyone can always get what they want all the time, but his role helps fill in the void between the majority and the ones feeling left out so everyone at least feels heard.
The Ebb and Flow elders presented SVDN a gift. They made a banner to mark this historic event that was then presented to councillor Tony Tacan at the end of the presentations. We then took the banner to Bruce Lyons and presented it to the school to be hung honouring the event. The elders wanted to visit the schools here in SVDN territory because they are looking to build a school of their own. Bruce Lyons led the tour.
We then headed over to the Bison compound where he held a class led by Leaha Tacan on the traditional Tobacco ties that are used to help seal your prayer and given to the bison as an offering. The elders sat in a round circle format and learned together, both Dakota and Ojibwe, and shared stories and tradition and how important they felt the day was on breaking down colonialism and this idea of divide and conquer and how more nation-to-nation events such as this are needed for all First Nation Peoples. A real connection based on respect and actual healing between 2 nations was reached & ACHIEVED.
Guest speaker Yvonne De Paola spoke on traditional ways and how those ways are done and honoured in the Dakota way of life and presented packages for the elders to take back home with them. Travis Mazawasicuna spoke on how horses and bison are and forever will be an important virtue for the Dakota Oyate, he spoke on how this made him feel as Dakota and the connection he feels with his horses, inviting our guests to the Grand Valley Event and concert and offered them a wagon ride.
It takes a great team to around you to facilitate a great event, Id like to start by thanking Chief & Council
Special thank you to: Tony and Leaha Tacan for all the extra coordinating and work that went into this, I’m sure we will never know the truth on all the work that went into this, Kolby Pratt, Cora-Leigh Demas, Darby Essie, Ebb and Flow elders and Organizers,
Bruce Lyons for the tour, Zane Tacan for feeding the Bison in such a fashion that a real connection with the animals could occur, special appearance from Koda Tacan and the security team up at the bison and our guest speakers Yvonne De Paola and Travis Mazawasicuna and Katherine Whitecloud, Brent Pratt
Also, a big thank you to Bryden Speiss and Daniza De Paola and of course Elton Taylor for helping to capture the event and all the editing and behind the scenes work, thanks guys, a big thank you to the maintenance crew for the set up not only in the community center but also up at the bison compound.
A huge thank you to the health team for switching venues with us so we could use the community center, we really appreciated the compromise, thank you Sara Rommeleare.
-SVDN Lands Manager