Elders Award Cultural Training Certificate

Aug 15th, 2002 | By | Category: 14-1: Honoring Our Students, Tribal College News

Elders and board members of Red Crow Community College (RCCC) honored Duane Mistaken Chief in April for successfully completing the “Five-year Elders Cultural Program.” The Elders Advisory Board and the Board of Governors presented him with a certificate, the first of its kind, to recognize his efforts to retain the knowledge that the elders want transferred to future generations of Kainai. The only Canadian member of the American Indian Higher Education Consortium, Red Crow Community College is located on the Kainaiwa Reserve in Alberta. It was established in 1986.

“Receiving this certificate is the highlight of my career. To receive this kind of recognition by our elders – the scholars of our people — is a greater honor than receiving a degree from any institution,” Mistaken Chief said. The elders have been transferring cultural knowledge to Mistaken Chief for the last five years at RCCC meetings, seminars, workshops, and personal interviews. In their words, “Nitaipommowannaan Niipaitapiiysinnaan Naa [Duane].” This means, in context, “We are transferring our life to him by way of our knowledge.”

The traditional Blackfoot way of learning is by listening and watching without interrupting the elder, who is usually referred to as Kaaahsinnoona (“our grandparent”). Mistaken Chief gained the respect and trust of the elders and promised to pass the knowledge on to others, including those that attend RCCC. He said, “In this day of misinformation and pan-Indian practices, the elders have always admonished me to maintain the integrity of Kiipaitapiiysinnooni (our Blackfoot way of life).”

Using the cultural knowledge, the college has developed Kiipaitapiiysinnooni I & II professional development course, which were offered in cooperation with the University of Lethbridge. Mistaken Chief also has lectured on Blackfoot culture for the University of Calgary Bachelor of Social Work Access program. In addition to his research and curriculum development work for Red Crow, Mistaken Chief co-chairs the First Nations Adult and Higher Education Consortium Social Work Curriculum Development Task Force with Dr. Betty Bastien, Ph.D. Over the past 10 years, he has interviewed or received the guidance of over 70 elders of the Blood Tribe and several other Treaty Seven tribes (Siksika, Piikani, Tsu’ti’nna’, and Stoney).

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