WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – November is Native American Heritage Month, and many are celebrating in Kansas.
From Powwows, community nights, and the Native American Education Program at Wichita Public Schools, the Native American community in Wichita is not only still here, but it’s thriving.
“It gives me very much a sense of pride,” said the Director of the Native American Indian Education Program at Wichita Public Schools, Dal Domebo.
Domebo works with over 3,000 native students in the Wichita Public Schools Native American Indian Education Program.
Domebo grew up in the USD 259 district and remembers learning about his own culture and others by reading, but when he started working in the program, he wanted to make it real for both native and non-native students.
“Usually, when they study native culture, it is always taught in past tense, and to be able to teach them that all of those customs and traditions that my people have had throughout the decades and throughout the centuries, we still practice them today,” said Domebo.
The program helps Native American students meet and exceed academic and cultural standards, but they also teach all students and staff about their culture.
Students had a chance this week to learn about how all parts of the buffalo are used by Native Americans.
“We all have different tribal backgrounds. Each tribe has their own government. Each tribe has their own sovereign nation,” said Megan Nguyen with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Wichita Chapter (MMIW).
Nguyen said the MMIW helps families find resources for things such as domestic violence but also works with the Native community, from their elders teaching their history to teaching the kids their culture.
“Our country maybe really had some tough times at one point and time, but it is up to us to teach those true stories and maybe just observe those when you are at Thanksgiving,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen said it’s important to her to teach her sons that they are Native Americans.
“The government titled us all as one big group of Indians, which isn’t true,” said Nguyen.
She said the U.S. Government only allows Natives to register with one tribe, but many are affiliated with multiple tribes.
“Teaching those histories and making that one little change to your vocab Native American Indigenous it makes a lot of change,” said Nguyen.
“Everybody can read the history that Westward Expansion, Indian Removal Act, etc., etc., we survived,” said Domebo.
And for the community, they said educating others about their culture is important.
“I want them to know that we are still here, that we are still thriving,” said Domebo.