Youth Drum circle at the Native American Development Center

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 6:58 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Native American heritage is rich in culture. Two local men have made it their mission to connect youth with that culture and tradition. They’ve started hosting youth drum circles at the Native American Development Center to create community.

The rhythm from the drums echoes through each drummer and singer as they connect with their heritage.

“Once you connect them with that, singing and the culture, it automatically comes out of them. And it’s part of our culture. It’s part of us,” Jermaine Bell, youth singing coordinator.

One of the first songs they will teach the students is the “Flag Song,” which is the Native American version of the national anthem. Songs like these have been passed down for generations.

“It’s important that we pass these Lakota teachings down to the next generation to our youth and then next generations after the youth, you know, keep it going,” said Ohitika Tasso, Native inc. care coordinator.

For some, singing and drumming are like breathing, something they grew up doing.

“And my family, it’s all we did was sing. And if we weren’t singing, we were outside working, but when we were outside working, we were singing. So, it means a lot, and I grew up around it. My grandmother did it. My father did it, you know? All my relatives are doing it,” said Bell.

It’s an activity that links youth to elders, with an activity they both love.

“When the older ones get together with the younger ones. We build that bond. We build that connection and that bridge. A lot of our youth don’t know their culture level, a lot of our youth don’t know their language,” said Tasso.

Both say teaching the kids to play allows them to instill confidence in themselves, celebrate their culture, and boost their self-confidence.

The Native American Development Center has other programs to bring Indigenous culture to the community, like beading classes, after schools programs, family night, a men’s support group, and a women’s talking circle. Find out more here.