Culture keeps one man on the right track

November is National Native American Heritage month.

On October 31, President Donald Trump's office released a proclamation that continues the nearly 20-year observation.

For one man, he celebrates his culture by doing his best to stay conscious of the core values of Native American heritage.

"Having respect is the main thing. Respecting yourself, your body, other people's values and everything around you."

That's how Helaman Hale describes what his Native American heritage means to him.

He said, "It gives you a center, like a balance of knowing where you came from. If you know your foundation then you kind of know where to start off from."

His values stem from the struggles in his life.

For example, he's pursuing an addiction studies degree at Minot State.

From witnessing addiction to experiencing it himself, he said his family is a constant reminder of what he wants in life.

"A sober culture, a culture that recognizes our values, both moral and traditional," said Hale.

He said the opioid epidemic is one thing that diminishes the significance of what he knows to be true Native American tradition.

"When we go to our ceremonies or our dance, we're supposed to be sober. There's no place in our culture, our heritage, that has alcohol or drugs. Whether it's urbanization that came through and took the people away from their culture or just the historical trauma, it's an epidemic that's severe on all reservations."

And for a fellow Native American who has struggled with alcohol abuse and with his culture, he said their heritage is something that should be worn with pride.

"I want to challenge our young people here like Thor to become the kind of person he is now and heal and then to become leaders and help other people, our people, learn how to survive in a white culture," author Don Bartlette said.

There are several events taking place at Minot State University to commemorate Native American culture, featuring:

Melissa Olson, co-writer and co-producer of "Stolen Childhoods'" - Nov. 20, 10AM in the Conference Center
Native American-Indigenous discussion panel, "Contemporary Issues and Solutions in Tribal Communities, Nov. 27, 2PM in the Conference Center
Alex DeCoteau thesis presentation, "We are not trying to save the language, the language is trying to save us." - Nov. 30, time TBD

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