Canku Ota

(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


april 21, 2001 - Issue 34



Youth Told They Are All Pre-judge-ists


 By Heidi Bell Gease, Journal Staff Writer

RAPID CITY More than 575 students from a handful of states spent the weekend at the Indian Youth 2001 Conference, studying issues they will face as future leaders.

"Learning Today, Leading Tomorrow" is the theme for this year's conference, sponsored by the Blackpipe Youth Council, Crow Creek Tribal Schools and Lower Sioux Indian Community of Morton, Minn.

The conference kicked off with a tipi-building contest, Lakota-language bowl, hand games and other contests.

Friday, students attended sessions on topics ranging from alcohol to gangs to racism, before an afternoon field trip to Bear Butte.

Terry Star, a tutor at Todd County High School, spoke to students about racism and about the prejudice that precedes it. "Who in here is prejudiced, raise your hand," he said. When a few hands went up, he continued, "The rest of you are lying."

Star said it's human nature to "pre-judge" things and people. What's important is that we don't take negative actions based on those pre-judgments, he said.

Education is the key to understanding others, he said. "It's important to know our own history ... but equally important to go out and learn about somebody else's culture."

Star has studied Irish history, and he told students that the Irish were once considered to be on the low rungs of society, just as Indians were. "They had it just as bad," he said.

Star said that students at Todd County aren't split by race. Instead, they tend to form friendships and cliques based on shared interests and musical tastes. Students are bothered to find that parents and community members tend to be more divided along racial lines, he said.

"We want to show our community here that we're a family within our walls," Star said.

In parting, Star told students to try to overcome their own biases through education. "Go out and learn about somebody else," he said. "They're just as scared of you as you are of them."



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