Cultural Connections Through Language, Education and Ceremony

Last Updated by Native America Editor on

Throughout November, PBS will highlight contributions from Indigenous people about how they, as individuals and as a community, carry on their cultural knowledge and traditions.

Today, we’re featuring the voices of five Native American women. Below, they share their stories of how they continue to maintain their cultural connections through language, education and ceremony. In the process, they are reclaiming their own history and sharing it with the next generation.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in these stories are solely those of the authors.


ValentinaValentina As a kid living on the Tohono O'odham Nation I didn't realize when we went out to harvest saguaro fruit or gather  plant materials with my mom and grandma, that it was something important to carry on. As I got older and moved away from home my focus changed to be more industrious, working and exploring new things in life. As a young adult I eventually came back home and while attending Tohono O'odham Community College I reconnected with my cultural roots. Today, I'm continuing that same knowledge, while still learning. I am the host and producer of Cultivating Indigenous Voices Podcast based out of KXCI Community Radio in Tucson, Arizona. It has been a great platform to continue to share local indigenous people's stories, histories, events, etc. with a broader audience. Keeping native voices alive because #WeAreStill here, through podcasting has been a great outlet and to be a part of it definitely creates more opportunity for myself and others to be that native voice for many! 


Nizhoni: Nez Perce and ApacheNizhoni: Nez Perce and Apache

Nizhoni: Nez Perce and Apache

Our whole family dances, my two and half-year old son dances, he has his own regalia, he definitely comes from a long line of dancers so I know it's so important to get them involved and have him with us no matter where we go and what we do. Being a part of our community whether here in the bay area where I grew up or whether it's back at a reservation, where I take online classes in my native language, bringing our culture, our food and medicine is the only way to keep the traditions alive. 


MeganMegan I'm taking the choctaw language classes at the university of Oklahoma. My mother and her side speak it fluently and I want to be able to respond back. 



My role in supporting cultural knowledge and traditions is through the support Native scholarship.  My career has been spent mentoring dozens of Native American students at the Bachelor's, Master's and Doctorate level to reach their professional dreams.  I have personally witnessed the transformation of young adults through the opportunity to attain a college education.  It changes everything.  Pictured at right are graduates from Turtle Mountain Community College on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, ND. Future teachers steeped in their own cultural awareness and knowledge; ready to share their understandings with Native children in K-12 classrooms.


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