Wendy Red Star | Circle of Courage | Teaching with Experience | Oklahoma | Try Giving


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KC:  How are you hoping kids respond to your work and this show?

Wendy Red Star:  For me, it’s very important that the ancestors that are presented in the exhibition are really thought of as people. And relatable people. I try to do that by writing about them directly on their image, or by making them life-sized and having an opportunity to walk up to them. And really humanizing them, because Native people have been dehumanized so much or made into this mythical part of the West that doesn’t exist. My hope is that there’s a human connection that the kids can make and relate to.

Wendy Red Star: Apsáalooke: Children of the Large-Beaked Bird continues at MASS MoCA (1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams, Massachusetts) through spring 2021. The exhibition was curated by Laura Thompson. The museum is currently open, though advanced, timed tickets are required.

The Interview: Wendy Red Star Is Teaching Children About the Crow Nation With Her Art

(I plan to see this exhibit next month! YEAH, even during a plague.)

**** Teachings

The Circle of Courage is based in four universal growth needs of all children: belonging, mastery, independence, and generosity.

These traditional values are validated by contemporary child research and are consistent with the findings of Stanley Coopersmith who identified four foundations for self-worth: significance, competence, power, and virtue.

These are summarized below:


In Native American and First Nations cultures, significance was nurtured in communities of belonging. Lakota anthropologist Ella Deloria described the core value of belonging in these simple words: “Be related, somehow, to everyone you know.” Treating others as kin forges powerful social bonds that draw all into relationships of respect. Theologian Marty observed that throughout history the tribe, not the nuclear family, always ensured the survival of the culture. Even if parents died or were not responsible, the tribe was always there to nourish the next generation.


Competence in traditional cultures is ensured by guaranteed opportunity for mastery. Children were taught to carefully observe and listen to those with more experience. A person with greater ability was seen as a model for learning, not as a rival. Each person strives for mastery for personal growth, but not to be superior to someone else. Humans have an innate drive to become competent and solve problems. With success in surmounting challenges, the desire to achieve is strengthened.


Power in Western culture was based on dominance, but in tribal traditions it meant respecting the right for independence. In contrast to obedience models of discipline, Native teaching was designed to build respect and teach inner discipline. From earliest childhood, children were encouraged to make decisions, solve problems, and show personal responsibility. Adults modeled, nurtured, taught values, and gave feedback, but children were given abundant opportunities to make choices without coercion.


Finally, virtue was reflected in the pre-eminent value of generosity. The central goal in Native American child-rearing is to teach the importance of being generous and unselfish.

In the words of a Lakota Elder, “You should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.” 

In helping others, youth create their own proof of worthiness: they make a positive contribution to another human life.”

All text sources: Reclaiming Youth International & Circle of Courage


For example, she spends a lot of time in “Introduction to Multicultural and Gender Studies” talking about blood politics and blood quantum.

Blood quantum is a process to measure a person’s degree of “Indian blood” that the federal government uses to classify—or not classify—someone as Native American and is determined by the number of generations of Native people they descend from. Essentially, if your blood isn’t Native American enough, you’re not Native American, so says the government, Esquivido explained.

“In the settler nation that we currently live in, we erase Native populations,” she said. “The erasure and implementation of blood quantum lowers the numbers [of tribe citizens]. I want to see how students reacted to this topic since many probably weren’t even aware this type of politics existed.”

These conversations can be uncomfortable to discuss, Esquivido said, but they are also very important to teach because the Native American population is disappearing due to the fact that the government only allows enrollment as a citizen in one tribe, regardless of heritage, and blood quantum plays a role in that.  For instance, not unlike herself, Esquivido’s 6-year-old daughter belongs to multiple tribes (Big Valley Pomo [enrolled], Nor Rel Muk Wintu, and Hupa), but “she’s only allowed to claim one blood quantum on her Certified Degree of Indian Blood,” she said.

“I think a lot of Native people have internalized it as a determinant of (tribe) enrollment. No other race or ethnicity or nation has to worry about their blood,” Esquivido said. “So, what the United States is doing is monitoring the erasure of Native peoples, and people need to be aware of what’s happening.”

Source: American Indian Studies Professor Fuels Teaching with Experience – Chico State Today

**** Giving Back

The transfer is an acknowledgment that Yale Union was able to operate “through the unearned privilege of property ownership,” according to Flint Jamison, president of Yale Union’s board of directors. “It’s now time that we hand over the keys,” he said in a statement.

NACF president and CEO Lulani Arquette believes that the transfer will set an important example for “recognizing the value of Native ownership of property in urban areas across the nation.”

“It’s liberating and encouraging to witness this kind of support for First Peoples of this country,” Arquette said. She continued:

The potential for local community and national partnerships around shared interests through Indigenous arts and cultures is wide open. We are deeply grateful for this transformative opportunity afforded NACF by YU board and staff, and stand united with all to reclaim Native truth, engage anti-racism, and address important issues we face today.

GOOD BIG NEWS: An Oregon Arts Nonprofit Will Transfer Its Land to a Native-Led Cultural Organization

*** Supreme Court decision [McGirt v. Oklahoma – Wikipedia]

Land in what is now eastern Oklahoma, which was granted to the Creek Nation by Congress in 1833, is still under tribal sovereignty, the Supreme Court ruled.

Big News but kinda confusing too: Supreme Court upholds American Indian treaty promises, orders Oklahoma to follow federal law

Ronald Mann on SCOTUSblog.

Ian Millhiser on VOX.


By L/T

Hey everyone! I’m back with some uplifting news for a change. Good things are happening. You won’t know this or see this on TV.

One lesson I need to share with you.  Anyone can do this.  But it is not easy.

Right now, this human action is a gift, and it’s something you can give to yourself. I learned it and you can, too.

I learned a long time ago to not be owned by what I own. For example, if I am wearing a pair of earrings or necklace and a friend says I really like them, I give them to her. That is it.  Even if she says no. Even if these earrings are special or expensive or rare.  None of that matters.  Hand them to your friend.

What matters is I am free to give away anything I own, if someone compliments me.

In the words of a Lakota Elder, “You should be able to give away your most cherished possession without your heart beating faster.” 

I want you all to experiment with this. If a friend (or relative) likes something you are carrying or wearing, or if they need something and you know they do, give it to them. (Try it with all kinds of things, even giving with complete strangers.) ( You can compliment others but don’t expect them to know this lesson. You will learn who is generous right away.)

Set yourself free. Give without expecting anything in return. We will change the world.  (And our children will be watching)



We just endured the blast of Hurricane Isaias and lots and lots of damage is everywhere in New England. We are fine but driving around is difficult with so many trees down or streets blocked.  We did not lose power, it just flickered here.  Our sunflowers do look as if they were in a bad brawl. The big winds won the fight.

Lastly, all of us can send prayers (and $$) to Lebanon for their recovery.


Email – message me anytime. I want to tell all you beautiful kind bloggers, you are wonderful, you are so important. Keep writing! Keep giving your thoughts and wisdom! Keep learning together.



  1. Sorry, another comment on this post! I clicked over to Circle of Courage and was sorry to see the authors chose to most often use past tense when describing Native American ways of raising/nurturing children. Why write “significance WAS nurtured” and “children WERE taught to carefully observed.” The power of these traditions is not gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Really powerful stuff as always! Thanks for sharing this and giving me a new way of looking at things like possessions. They are so easy to get hung up on, so you showing that mindset to be free of them is such a great example.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Thank you for this beautiful post. Beautiful thoughts and words. The video reminded me of Oklahoma, where I used to go as a child. We went to visit my grandmother, my uncle and my aunts on my mother’s side.
    Have a nice weekend 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Absolutely Beautiful! I love this in all manner of speaking and thinking, as I see its purpose as so wise and powerful in a most beautiful way! Tradition means so much and perhaps is everything when we really think about it, which is sorely missing in societies and modern secular, materialistic culture now!
    These concepts spell it out to me so boldly, penetrating deep into my heart and soul; “four foundations for self-worth: significance, competence, power, and virtue.”
    You see into the deepest significance and purpose for our existence; which speaks to us in all that we see and experience all around us, which I see as most amiable and true.
    These words along with the featured photos to me are inspiring and compelling!
    Such an informative insight you provide with this fine article which was quite educational and interesting for me to read.
    Thank you for sharing these truthful insights which definitely improved my understanding of Native Americans.
    God bless.

    Liked by 1 person

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