Update: This transcript has been updated to reflect the current AP Stylebook guidelines.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: You’re listening to “KZUM News” on 89.3 KZUM Lincoln and KZUM HD.
[Fades in on the “KZUM News” program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Good afternoon and welcome to today’s edition of “KZUM News,” an hour dedicated to learning more about what is going on in Lincoln and the surrounding areas. I am the News Director, and your host, Amantha Dickman.
We have a special edition plan for you today. But before we get started, I do wanna remind you that we are still accepting donations for that fall fund drive. We are just a little bit below our $40,000 goal and this money is what helps keep us sustained through the winter months and helps keep all of your favorite programming on the air. So if you have a couple of dollars to throw our way, it’s always appreciated.
Now we’re gonna go ahead and get started.
On September 21, “KZUM News” attended the Otoe-Missouria Homecoming and Recognition Day hosted by the city of Lincoln. Sitting down with us this morning is Christina Faw Faw Goodson, [a] member of that delegation to tell us more about what the process of coming to Lincoln looked like.
Christina Faw Faw Goodson, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: My name is Christina Faw Faw Goodson.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: September 21 was the Otoe-Missouria Homecoming Day and Recognition Day here in Lincoln. Tell me a little bit about what it was like to return to Lincoln and about that organizing process.
Christina Faw Faw Goodson, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: So… Cory DeRoin was our main organizer. He kind of put all of… everybody into a connection with one another.
He had been working with the Pawnee Seed Preservation Project with his aunt Deb Echo-Hawk. And they had had some land given back to them or, you know, had been given permission to use the land. And that had been something for me that was always like, “Wow, that is really cool. I wanna do something like that.” So when Cory invited me to go on this trip to Nebraska in May, when we initially started these efforts, I was psyched. I was ready to go. I was like, “When do we leave?”
So that was really the starting point of it, for all of us as a group. I’m trying to think of what all we did.
When we first got to Lincoln in May, we had a dinner at the Indian Center. So kind of getting to know what indigenous groups and people were, you know, kind of stewarding the land and the native scene, I guess, in Lincoln. And so that was really nice to be welcomed in that way.
And then we had meetings with the mayor, the University of Nebraska, the Audubon Society, and we also ate at a church. I wanna say it was the Episcopal Church, but it was a really just beautiful experience coming from Oklahoma.
It’s a little different politically. It’s a bunch of tribes that aren’t really from there except for, you know, maybe four or five that are actually from the area. So it’s 39 tribes. There’s just a lot of different things going on here. CRT, all that kind of thing. There’s just not… there’s been a breakdown of tribal-state relationship.
So to be able to come to Nebraska where we are from, or where we were last before we were removed, that was just a very powerful experience to be welcomed. To have people be so genuinely kind, was amazing. And genuinely interested in hearing about what we envision for the future for the relationship between Nebraskans and Otoe-Missouria people, but also how we can give to the community.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: So, for anyone out there who isn’t familiar with the concept of land back, can you explain what that is?
Christina Faw Faw Goodson, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: So before… prior to, I guess, colonization and prior to kind of the breakdown of our tribal, original tribal governance and stewardship of land, we didn’t own things privately. Or at least for my tribe, we didn’t. It was a communal land ownership. It was, you take care of it, it will take care of you.
So I think in this land back movement – which is really just a reclamation of lands, of territories that were once ours – and that we took care of, and allowing us to take back over that stewardship, allowing us to restore and remake things that are ours. That we were doing a really good job of taking care of. And it broke our hearts, our spirits.
I think it was a Ponca chief that had said “it’s like an unspeakable sadness.”
And I really do feel that way about being reunited with the land, but also being separated from it. And so I think that’s like… kind of the essence of what land back is, is that we just want to restore those connections and restore that stewardship process.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: You were part of the delegation that came to visit on September 21 in honor of the Otoe-Missouria Homecoming. In the future, will the delegation continue to make yearly trips back to celebrate the Otoe-Missouria Recognition Day?
Christina Faw Faw Goodson, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: We… I would really love that. I think that’s a goal for a few of us, is that we would like to come back.
We’d like to have like some dances, some ceremonies, just making our presence known and also inviting the community to join in on that.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Thank you for joining us, Christina. We really appreciate it.
Now we’re gonna head right into that event for the day.
[Drum song as performed by the Lincoln Indian Center Drum Group.]
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: Thank you very much to the Lincoln Indian Center drum group, and welcome to each and every one of you. You may now take a seat.
Good morning everyone.
My name is Erin and I’m so grateful to see each and every one of you. Very good morning to every one of you. I’m a citizen of [the] Cherokee Nation and a resident of Lincoln and a very grateful visitor on this land, the homelands of the Otoe-Missouria people.
We are so happy to be here in Celebration today, and we want to begin with a prayer by one of our Otoe-Missouria delegates, Kyle Robedeaux.
Kyle Robedeaux, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation:
Let us pray.
Thank you, again, for this beautiful, wonderful day that you have given to us [unintelligible – 00:09:04]; ask you again, [unintelligible – 00:09:06], that you would bless our Otoe-Missouria people, and, [unintelligible – 00:09:10], that made their way up here, again, [unintelligible – 00:09:12] to reconcile your [unintelligible – 00:09:13] and to acknowledge here what’s taking place here with our, these relatives who father, who friends, and we have made here over the years [unintelligible – 00:09:22] and thankful to you today to [unintelligible – 00:09:25]. And this is a memorable occasion here for us, [unintelligible – 00:09:26]. A mark in history [unintelligible – 00:09:29].
So I ask in you and pray to you today to[unintelligible – 00:09:33], that whatever actions take place here today, here into the future would before our children or grandchildren; ones that not even get to see your [unintelligible – 00:09:41], but they understand, [unintelligible – 00:09:43], where they come from, here from this area, [unintelligible – 00:09:46], are Otoe-Missouria people, at one time roamed around here, [unintelligible – 00:09:48], and the things that, [unintelligible – 00:09:49], spiritual sermons that we had [unintelligible – 00:09:50], societies that we had at one time to [unintelligible – 00:09:52]. All those things like that, that we had as Otoe-Missouria people. [Transcription unavailable] had made us here to be, [unintelligible – 00:10:03]. We’re able to come back here to these homelands again and, [unintelligible – 00:10:06] and to continue these conversations and continue these thoughts they followed here, that these friends here have made a possible here for us, [unintelligible – 00:10:17], to make our way back home for this way, [unintelligible – 00:10:20].
So, I pray to you today, [unintelligible – 00:10:21] , all the things that’s gonna take place here, that your [unintelligible – 00:10:23], I pray. Amen.
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: [Transcription unavailable.] Thank you.
I’d now like to invite Billie Tohee for our land acknowledgement.
Billie Tohee, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: [Transcription unavailable.]
Good morning one and all my friends and relatives. I welcome each of you here. Thank you for being here. And thank you for this panel and for the mayor and the city of Lincoln.
My name is Billie Tohee. My native name is Real Eagle Woman. I come from the Otoe-Missouria Tribes and a tribe in the Ioway, the Baxoje Tribes of Oklahoma. And I reside in Perkins, Oklahoma. I’m of the Bear Clan. And I’m just thankful to be here on this historical event. And the statement that I’m going to read pertains to the land acknowledgement that’s happening here.
We want to acknowledge that residents of Lincoln are living on the past, present, and future homelands of the Otoe-Missouria, Pawnee, Omaha, and Kansas people. The Salt Basin around the present day Lincoln, Nebraska attracted many indigenous nations to this region. The Otoe-Missouria called the area nyi bragthe or ‘flat water.’ Under pressure from federal officials and settlers, the Otoe-Missouria ceded the land that became Lincoln to the federal government in 1883 and also in 1854. This forced out the Otoe-Missouria people who had called the nyi bragthe home from many generations.
Native peoples of many nations live in Lincoln today and contribute to the community’s vitality and diversity. And today we thank them for that stewardship of these lands that once belonged to and still belong to the Otoe-Missouria people – [Transcription unavailable.]
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: [Transcription unavailable.] Thank you, Billy.
At this time, I’d like to acknowledge our Otoe-Missouria Dignitaries: Chairman John Shotton, Vice Chairman Ted Grant, Secretary Darrell Kihega, Treasurer Courtney Burgess, First Member Wesley Hudson, Second Member Myra Pickering, Third Member Alvin Moore.
I’d also like to recognize our Otoe-Missouria organizing delegation: Cory DeRoin, Christina Faw Faw [Goodson], Billy Tohee, and Kyle Robedeaux. Let’s all give them a warm round of applause and a welcome.
I’d also like to welcome our city of Lincoln dignitaries: Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. T.J. McDowell, Advisor to the Mayor. Lincoln City Council member Sandra Washington, Lincoln City Council member Jane Raybould, Lincoln City Council member Tom Beckius, and Sara Houston, Director of the Lincoln Human Rights Commission.
I’d also like to acknowledge and welcome the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs Representatives Executive Director, Judi Gaiashkibosh, and Dr. Rudy Mitchell.
And a big [transcription unavailable]. Thank you to our organizers, volunteers, and supporters who’ve made this event possible here on the Lincoln side. And that is Kevin Abourezk, Arden Hill, Judy Hart, Mary Kay Stillwell, Katie Nieland, Alison Cloet, Ashley Wilkinson, Casey Seger, Miriam Nieto, Daelyn Zagurski, Mark Brohman, Tim Knott, Julie Green, and Jim Math. Let us all give thanks and a warm round of applause for everyone involved.
At this time, I’d like to welcome Margaret Jacobs to the podium to share what brings us here.
Margaret James, Director of the Center for Great Plain Studies: Thank you so much, Erin. And thank you to all of you for being here. This is really a thrilling moment.
So, good morning. My name is Margaret Jacobs. I am the director of the Center for Great Plain Studies, where we’re meeting this morning. I’m also the co-director, with Kevin Abourezk, of the Reconciliation Rising Project.
And it’s really an honor. It’s really a delight to be able to host this historic event and to welcome home our Otoe-Missouria friends and relatives. So, welcome my Otoe-Missouria friends. You are home.
So I am to speak on what brings us here today. Well, that’s a big topic. I am a historian, so that could be dangerous to ask me to talk about that. We could go back to the 13th century or something like that, but, I will not do that.
So there’s a couple ways to answer this and here are just a few.
So, one, I think is a strong passion for healing and reconciliation. And I think all of you in the room share that passion. And this was something that Kevin Abourezk, who’s at the drum with the Lincoln Indian Drum Group, and I think we share this passion. We met for the first time in 2018, and we decided to start a project called Reconciliation Rising.
We’d never met before when we had lunch together, but we discovered that we shared this strong desire to confront our difficult and painful histories, and then to work toward healing and reconciliation. And Kevin is a journalist with Indianz.com. And I’m a historian, so we both wanted to tell stories and to uncover stories of native and non-native people working together who are confronting these histories and then working toward reconciliation.
So we did this primarily through podcasts and documentaries. But it’s kind of funny because we got so inspired. I think I’m speaking for us both, Kevin. We got so inspired by some of the people we met whose stories we were telling, that we were influenced by them to want to work to bring the Otoe-Missouria home as a result of that.
So one of the podcasts and films we created is about the partnership between a Pawnee tribal member named Deb Echo-Hawk — she’s the keeper of the seeds for the Pawnee Nation — and she has had a long-term partnership of over 20 years with a Nebraska white settler named Ronnie O’Brien. And it’s partly through our interviews with Deb that this event is occurring today.
And this brings me to perhaps the next thing that brings us here to today. And I would say that’s friendship. So it’s the friendship that Kevin and I got to witness between Ronnie O’Brien and Deb Echo-Hawk. It’s the friendship between Kevin and me, and it’s the friendship that we’ve been developing with our friends from the Otoe-Missouria Nation.
And it just happened that when Deb Echo-Hawk came up here to Lincoln in, I think, December 2019. She brought with her, her nephew. Her nephew is Cory DeRoin, or one of her many nephews is Cory DeRoin, who’s sitting over here. And I just felt a kind of immediate connection with Cory. I think Kevin did too. And we just had a really great time talking with him. And then we got to reunite with Cory just about a year ago when the Pawnee Nation came up to our area just 15 miles west of here. They were harvesting their eagle corn last summer. And there was Cory again with his Auntie Deb and with his Pawnee relatives. And we got to talking as we were processing corn, shelling corn, roasting corn, you know, joking around the fire. We got to talking with Cory about whether it would be possible for the Otoe-Missouria to also reestablish ties with their homeland. And that was something that planted a seed for Kevin and me. And then we decided after the long winter of the pandemic that we would really like to work on this. And, so, a small delegation of four people – Cory DeRoin, Christina Faw Faw, Billie Tohee, and Kyle Robedeaux – came up here and they had a whirlwind trip. They met with a lot of people and some of the people they met with included our mayor, Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. And they asked her could we… could the city of Lincoln establish an Otoe-Missouria Day? And it was just such a delight, without skipping a beat, the mayor said yes. It was not a hard thing. She didn’t say, “Oh, I gotta go think about that or talk about it with a committee.” She was just, yes. So that friendship is one of the things that have brought us here today.
But there’s probably some other ways that we could think about this too. I know Deb Echo-Hawk and Ron O’Brien would tell us that it was the corn that brought us here today. The sacred corn that brought us here today. And I’ve learned from my Otoe-Missouria friends that it was also the prayers of their ancestors that brought us here today.
So I just want to end by saying that, to me, this event is truly a blessing for the people of Lincoln. By returning to your homelands, you, Otoe-Missouria friends and relatives, are bringing the city of Lincoln and its residents an incredible gift. You have so much to teach us about how to persist through hard times, how to face up to and honor our histories and our ancestors, how to rebuild and restore one’s culture in society, how to be good stewards to our precious lands and waters. And how to be good relatives, and I’m really humbled to be here today among you and hope that this is only the beginning of a long and fruitful kinship between us.
And thank you so much.
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: Thank you, Margaret.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: We have that break coming up. When we return, we’ll be hearing from the Otoe-Missouria designation about the return to Lincoln and from Mayor Leiron Gaylor Baird on the proclamation of September 21, 2022 as being Otoe-Missouria Day. Then the Otoe-Missouria Drum Group will share a song with us.
You definitely don’t wanna miss that, so don’t go anywhere while those commercials are playing.
[“KZUM News” transition music, an original piece composed by Jack Rodenburg, fades in and then out. KZUM Radio’s usual underwriting and public services announcements air at scheduled times throughout the hour.]
Amantha Dickman, News Editor: Welcome back.
Just a reminder for where we left off; today we are doing a special issue on the Otoe-Missouria homecoming and the proclamation of September 21 as Otoe-Missouria day. Our Mcee Erin Poor will be setting us up to hear from the Otoe-Missouria designation next, so here we go…
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: And at this time I’d like to invite Cory DeRoin and Christina Faw Faw to share the significance of the Homecoming for the Otoe-Missouria.
Cory DeRoin, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: [Transcription unavailable.]
Hello. Good day my relatives. My name’s Cory DeRoin. I come from the Otoe-Missouria tribe. I’m Bear Clan. I come here from my home in Red Rock, Oklahoma. And today I speak my language.
I just wanted to kind of share the importance of this trip. You know, I thought we brought a lot of elders and a lot of our youth with us, and I thought that was very important, you know, for our elders to be able to come back and visit this land that they’ve heard so much about all throughout their lives. And, you know, for our youth to get their… you know, get to know their roots. We have a lot of youth here and I’m very glad to see that. That to me shows that a sign of continued relationships here, you know, when we have our young people here and get them involved, they’re listening, paying attention, knowing what we’re doing, and, you know, someday they’ll carry these relationships on for us. So I think that’s very important.
And you know, it’s very also important to us in our hearts that we re-establish our connection with our land here in Lincoln, Nebraska, and around this area because it’s a land that our old folks once walked on and, you know, they took care of this land.
And thank you all for taking care of it for us for the last couple hundred of years.
So, please bear with me. You know, humor’s very important to our people. So I’m gonna add a little bit of humor in here.
I was telling my group of relatives this morning that I sure, you know, feel like, in this Nebraska wind, I just feel like dandelion. You know how those, when the wind blows and those seeds fly off their heads? Eh. Well, think about my hair follicles. I was trying to maintain as much as I could. And, so, for me, hopefully, you know, those hair follicles are just like those seeds from the dandelions and we’re planting seeds, leaving seeds here, you know, for our people to come back. And so that’s my bit of humor.
And so thank you for bearing with me and thank you all for being here. I’m very appreciative. I can’t express my gratitude enough. And the best way that I know how and how I was taught was to tell you all [transcription unavailable], which is a deeper sentiment of thank you. You know, it’s not just a regular ‘thank you’. You know, we pray to you. I pray to you.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for making this happen. Everybody who collaborated to make this happen, you brought our elders. At first it was just a small group of us. And you’ve helped us to bring our elders, and our tribal leaders, and our youth. You know, this is a very big deal to us and it warms my heart.
[Transcription unavailable.] At this time I’ll let my sister, Christina, take over.
Christina Faw Faw Goodson, Member of the Otoe-Missouria Delegation: [Transcription unavailable.]
My name is Christina Faw Faw. My Otoe name is [transcription unavailable], ‘everything green.’ Makes sense… I’m Owl Clan. I’m Otoe-Missouria and Ioway. I’m from Stillwater, Oklahoma.
I’ll ask forgiveness for my elders today. For speaking in front of you. Traditionally, we’re not supposed to do that as women.
I just wanna thank everyone for being here today. It really fills my heart. I’m not gonna get emotional. It really fills my heart with happiness and joy… comfort to know that so many people wanted to join us today for this celebration.
Our Otoe-Missouria Language Department has been working on an elder project. So we’ve been watching these videos of our elders from the ‘80s and the ‘70s. And they talk about Nebraska. They talk about it a lot. To be here today, during this time, it just feels like everything is happening the way that it is supposed to, that we are back on account of our ancestors. Their prayers do carry on. And they brought us back here.
So I wanna say thank you again for everyone – Mayor Gaylor Baird Margaret, Kevin – everyone that had anything to do with putting this together and bringing us all together, I just thank you very much. [Transcription unavailable.]
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: And at this time, I’d like to welcome Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird to read the proclamation.
Leirion Gaylor Baird, Mayor of the City of Lincoln: Well, hello and good morning everyone. It is wonderful to see my colleagues from the city council here; Jane Raybould, Sändra Washington, and Tom Beckius. And I’m so grateful to T.J. McDowell, my advisor in the mayor’s office, who was with us when we first met. And, as mayor of Lincoln, I want to say welcome home to our Otoe-Missouria relatives.
It’s truly an honor to have you home and to be able to celebrate this momentous occasion with you this morning. We’re grateful that so many of you were able to make the journey from Oklahoma, old and young. And we’re also grateful, especially grateful, to Kyle who shared with me when I arrived that he had thought about wearing his OU sweatshirt, but decided against it.
There are several other people I wanna especially thank for helping to make this historic event happen. I wanna thank Cory DeRoin who led the delegation from the Otoe-Missouria tribe to Lincoln in late May of this year. That included a visit in our office. And Cory, Christina, and Billy, and Kyle initiated this celebration today. So we really do have them to thank.
And at this time, I want to offer this proclamation to mark this day that has a past and a present, and a future.
Whereas prior to the westward expansion of settlers, the land surrounding Lincoln was covered with tall grass, prairie and indigenous people’s hunted along Salt Creek and its tributaries and harvested salt from its deposits.
And, whereas, by 1714, the Otoes were living in a village on the Salt Creek tributary of the Platte River in what is now eastern Nebraska, a territory which they occupied for the remainder of the century;
And whereas the Missouria’s joined them there in 1798 after the Sac and Fox drove them out of northwest Missouri, and henceforth the Otoe and Missouria were one nation;
And whereas the Otoe-Missouria Tribe signed the treaty of September 21, 1833, and the Treaty of March 15, 1854, and ceded land on which the city of Lincoln currently exists;
And whereas, by signing treaties with tribes, the US government on paper affirmed and recognized their inalienable, inherent statuses as separate sovereign nations;
And whereas, the city of Lincoln was founded in 1856 as the village of Lancaster and became the county seat of the newly created Lancaster County in 1859. The township of Lancaster was renamed Lincoln following incorporation of the city of Lincoln on April 1, 1869;
And whereas, the city of Lincoln, in the spirit of education and awareness, can integrate land acknowledgments and inclusion of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and its citizens into its practices and initiatives;
And whereas, the Otoe-Missouria reconciliation and reclamation movement seeks to spread awareness of the Otoe-Missouria people who lived in the Lincoln region before extensive concessions were made, to understand the significance of these lands, and to provide information on how people can help the tribe in respecting and protecting these lands;
And whereas, the city of Lincoln supports the Otoe-Missouria Tribe by acknowledging that our city is on its ancestral lands and by thanking the Otoe-Missouria and other indigenous caretakers of this land who have lived and who continue to live here,
Now, therefore, I, Leirion Gaylor Baird, Mayor of the City of Lincoln, Nebraska, do hereby proclaim September 21, 2022, as Otoe-Missouria Day to honor the land and people as an act of good faith and the reconciliation process.
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: Thank you, Mayor. And thank you to everyone who put in their time and their effort, their energy, and their prayers into making this day possible.
At this time, we’d like to welcome the Otoe-Missouri Drum for a song. They will perform an encampment song. And we’d like to welcome the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Princess, Marlene Enloe, as well as the Princess from the Red Rock Creek Gourd Clan, Lena Black, to dance this encampment song.
If there are other princesses present, please feel invited to join them in the dance.
[The Otoe-Missouria Drum Circle plays an encampment song.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: We have one more break for today. So I’m going to grab some water, you are not going to touch that dial, and when we come back we’ll hear more of the Otoe-Missouria Proclamation Ceremony and Homecoming Celebration.
[“KZUM News” transition music, an original piece composed by Jack Rodenburg, fades in and then out. KZUM Radio’s usual underwriting and public services announcements air at scheduled times throughout the hour.]
Amantha Dickman, News Director: Hello again.
As we get closer to the end of our hour together, I’d like to remind you that today’s episode is a special one. We attended the Otoe-Missouria Homecoming Ceremony and Proclamation event.
Before the break, we heard from Otoe-Missouria tribal designations about their homecoming and Mayor Leiron Gaylor Baird proclaiming September 21, 2022, as Otoe-Missouria Day.
Now we’re gonna catch the last of that event.
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: Thank you, again.
I wanna acknowledge tribal princesses, Marlene Enloe and Red Rocked Creek Gourd Clan’s Lena Black. And, of course, our Lincoln Indian Center Powwow Princess Leah Gossard.
Thank you so much for joining us.
[Transcription unavailable.] Big thank you to our drum, our singers, and our dancers. Thank you, Brandon, for leading us in that dance.
I just wanted to acknowledge another dignitary that arrived. Senator Patty Pansing Brooks is joining us this morning. Patty is a dear, dear friend to indigenous people here in Nebraska. So we’re so glad to see her here. Thank you for being here.
At this time, I’d like to welcome my Auntie Renee to share a poem with us, Renee. And this is Renee Sans Souci.
Renee Sans Souci, Citizen of the Omaha Tribe and speaker: Good morning. All my relations, [transcription unavailable].
So today what I said is, let me introduce myself. My Omaha name is Sacred Horse Woman. My English or white man name is Renee Sans Souci. I’m an Omaha woman.
And first and foremost, to our Otoe-Missouria relatives, I want to say welcome home. [Transcription unavailable.] It’s good your home.
And I was sharing last night a bit, you know, just as you know what nephew Cory said, you know we always have to be humorous as well. We can be really super serious and then turn it on, you know, on the end and say, you know, other crazy things. [Transcription unavailable.] You know, I’m crazy. I will say whatever sometimes, and, you know, not think about it too much later.
But today I just wanted to recite this poem. But I wanted to give a background as to what this is. Like, you know, what this poem is about. And it is… it isn’t a short… I mean it isn’t a long poem. It is a fairly short poem. But I had a request from my brother, Kevin Abourezk, and he asked if I would come and recite this poem at this event. And, for me, a lot of times I never know what I’m getting into. You know, I agree. And I will say, “Yes, I’ll be there.” You know, and I have no idea what’s going on or what has been planned or anything, but I’m here. You know, that’s how it usually works for me.
And I want to do things in a good way, just as my mom had taught me. And my mom was always my main teacher. And I can tell you [she] scolded me many times over because of, you know, maybe my behavior – or misbehavior. And learning though is, you know, that part of that process.
I wanted to also say something about, you know, the history. You know, there’s so many history books written about our people here in Nebraska and one of them was “The Dispossession of the Nebraska Indians” by David Wishart.
David Wishart had come to Omaha Tribe, must have been like 2000 or something like that, and spoke to us. And asked, you know, what we thought of what he had written. And we all gave him his, you know, some thoughts; the elders that were there, that were alive at that time. But one thing, what I wanted to say, first off, you know, before I read this poem… this is one of the, at the very beginning, what was written, what was stated by one of the Maha relatives ancestors says;
“Now the face of the land is changed and sad. The living creatures are gone. I see the land desolate and I suffer unspeakable sadness. Sometimes I wake in the night and feel as though I should suffocate from the pressure of this awful feeling of loneliness.”
And this was from White Horse – [transcription unavailable] – of the Omaha. August 13, 1912.
And that unspeakable sadness is what he entitled his book. Because each one of us that are from this land, we have that in us. We have that, and it’s ongoing.
It doesn’t relent.
However, even as that’s being said, we continue relentlessly going forward in our daily lives, in everything that we have to do to take care of our families, you know, our children, all our loved ones, our elders. And so with that being said, I wanted to share. I called this poem “When I See Them Returning.”
And last night I shared a bit about that.
You know, I was on my way back from Wisconsin yesterday. And, on our way back, you know, all the clouds were there before us. And I’m a great believer in that because I always see things in the clouds and in the sky. And you know, I always see the signs as I say. And I looked as I was driving cause they were like directly in front of me and all those clouds that were lined up looked like people.
And I have never seen the clouds look like that before. Not like that.
So distinct – the figures – each person that was standing there and faces. And then I saw horses and I was like thinking, and I told my kids. I said, “Look. Well, you know, the ancestors are looking at us.”
And then I started to make sense of it and I said, “Those are the Otoe relatives coming home.” Because I knew that you were traveling up here at the same time I was traveling back here. Back to your homelands.
So I titled this poem “When I See Them Returning.”
A clear day was upon us when I saw them returning, between the showers and the hills. A new energy emerged when I saw them returning. Outlines of ancestors in white clouds above. A representation of life when I saw them returning. Of memories and sorrow embedded in each heart. A time now of healing when I saw them returning. A time now of healing to get back the land when I saw them returning.
That’s how this poem has, you know, shaped out. I never quite know how a poem’s gonna go, but I wanted to share that with my Otoe-Missouria. I’m trying to say it correctly and I know I’ll need that guidance and the language, and I think it’s… [transcription unavailable].
And I think you so much, you know, for this honor. To be able to also be a part of this historic day and to be able to welcome you back to your homelands. [Transcription unavailable.] That’s what we say in Omaha. We call Lincoln ‘[transcription unavailable].’ It means salt town. That’s what we’ve called it for, who knows how long.
So thank you so much. [Transcriptioun unavailable.] And what I’ll say finally is land back, baby. Let’s go.
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: Thank you so much, Renee Sans Souci, for your beautiful poem, your words, and for everything that you do for this community.
At this time, I’d like to welcome Mike Valerio, who will be offering an honor song, and he’ll be joined by his brothers from the Lincoln Indian Center drum group.
Thank you, Mike.
[Mike Valerio and the Lincoln Indian Center Drum Group offering an honor song in celebration of the Otoe-Missouria homecoming.]
Thank you. [Transcription unavailable.] Thank you for that honor song.
At this time, I’d like to re-invite my auntie Renee Sans Souci back here to offer a closing prayer and then the Otoe-Missouria Drum Group will offer a closing prayer song.
Renee Sans Souci, Citizen of the Omaha Tribe and speaker: [Transcription unavailable.]
Give a blessing to our [transcription unavailable] relatives who are here today. Today is a good day. Thank you for bringing us all together, Creator. Thank you to the ancestors, to the spirits that watch over us and help us. Thank you to everyone today, Creator. Bring a blessing here. Bring a blessing to all our families, to all our loved ones who are in mourning, all our loved ones who are battling illness, who are struggling in many different ways.
Help us with understanding good health and happiness. Today is a good day, and we thank you. I thank you, [transcription unavailable], for the blessings of my family
And help us as we go forward. Bring a blessing. To the people who are all gonna be a part of this homecoming from this time onward. Help us to look to the future and that the future for our generations to come will be a blessed one. That they will have everything they need. Thank you so much, Creator, for everything. [Transcription unavailable.]
[The Closing Song performed by the Otoe-Missouria Drum Group.]
Erin Poor, Citizen of the Cherokee Nation and Lincoln Resident: This concludes our proclamation ceremony. I wanna thank each and every one of you for being here, for celebrating, and a big heartfelt welcome home to our Otoe-Missouria relatives. Thank you and have a great day.
Amantha Dickman, News Director: If you’re just tuning in, you can head over to our archives to catch our full episode for today where we cover the Otoe-Missouria homecoming and proclamation on September 21.
Before we go into today’s reminders. “KZUM News” currently has a survey in progress. We are asking our community members to share their thoughts about media bias, misinformation and questions with us in preparation for our upcoming media literacy survey. These questions will be used to fuel the discussion amongst our panelists so that we can make journalism a little more transparent for everyone. You can find the link to the survey on our website or the QR code on our social media pages. Please take the survey, share the survey. The more people we hear from, the better. And thank you to everyone who has already completed the survey. We appreciate all your help.
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[Fades in on the “KZUM News” program music, an original production of Jack Rodenburg. The music fades out.]
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