LPS hosts annual Native Pride conference

Lincoln Public Schools held its annual Native Pride Conference on Friday, a half-day Zoom event that drew roughly 150 American Indian students from middle schools across the city.

“Our goal for the conference is to provide the students a chance to think about their academic success as Native students,” said LPS American Indian Youth Demonstration Grant Coordinator Barbara Buttes. “We try to introduce them to career and educational paths, while celebrating Indian identity.”

Thirty students participated from home, while others participated together at their schools. Buttes kicked off the day by sharing some of her family history, going all the way back to her great-grandmother Ellen, who grew up in Minnesota and whose mother died during childbirth. Ellen, a member of the Mdewakanton Sioux tribe, endured numerous hardships in her life, Buttes said, but she never lost hope and always lived with pride.

“Our ancestors survived with the hope they held for us, the next generations,” she said. “They lived with love in their hearts, happy to work for what the people needed. They knew who they were and they never lost sight of their traditional values. We must never forget.”

Students participated in a lesson on how to make a clay pinch pot, led by Park Middle School art teacher Nissa Sturgeon. They heard presentations from representatives of the BEAR (Be Excited About Reading) Project, which is based at the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and the “Re-Discovering America: Understanding Colonization” workshop, presented by the group Toward Right Relationship with Native Peoples. They finished the morning with music from hip-hop artist and producer Quese IMC, who performs tribal music and plays the flute.

Afterwards, students were asked to reflect on the conference. Participants at Mickle Middle School said they enjoyed making a pinch pot, as well as the Quese IMC performance. Also, said one student, “it’s always good to learn more about my heritage.”

Published: February 2, 2021, Updated: February 2, 2021

A student at Mickle Middle School works on a clay pinch pot during the Native Pride conference