Tribal knowledge important to KBIC

BARAGA – Keweenaw Bay Indian Community President Chris Swartz will discuss the importance of traditional tribal knowledge at a conference in Marquette in two weeks.

Swartz will address the 2017 Native American Critical Issues Conference theme of “Rebuilding Traditional Knowledge Systems” at the March 23 to 25 Northern Michigan University event, sponsored by the Michigan Indian Education Council.

“Our tribes have never given up our right to educate ourselves and others about who we are as a people,” Swartz said, reading the conference description at Saturday’s tribal council meeting in Baraga. “Our traditional knowledge systems were in place and thriving at the time of colonization. Early United States policies sought to undermine our tribal governments and used education as means to accomplish this effort. Although our communities have been severely disrupted in most cases, we are a resilient people and we have fought to rebuild our communities and reassert our claim to our traditional homelands and our cultural identities. We must continue to rebuild our traditional knowledge systems so that future generations will be able to speak our Native languages, know our tribal histories, identify indigenous plants and animals, tell our traditional stories and appreciate our enduring relationship with our mother, the Earth.”

In addition, keynote speaker Dr. Malia Villegas will share innovative ways to uplift Native children and families and celebrate their culture in a speech called, “Flipping the Script: Using Data to Tell Our Stories in a Good Way.”