Kendrick’s dream is “Mni Wiconi (Water is Life) Traditional Knowledge Camp” which he describes as being designed “for helping Native youth align traditional tribal knowledge and contemporary science around issues of the environment.”
Kendricks’s Home and Community
Kendrick, 25, is from three different tribes: the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe, the Three Affiliated Tribes (Hidatsa, Mandan and Arikara Nation), and is an officially enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
He was raised in Cannonball on the Standing Rock reservation in North Dakota and attends Bismarck State College. Although he now lives on campus, he has always maintained his strong connections with his family and the Cannonball community.
“My hometown community of Cannonball is very small with very little for youth to do because there are not enough resources to do anything,” he says. “Our community has lost a lot of our elders and connections to our culture.
“Cannonball is a very beautiful place and if we just have some mentors and leaders to come in and show the kids what to do and show them how to do things besides play basketball, that town would be great to live in.”
What motivated Kendrick to develop this dream?
Following the death of his father and stepmother, Kendrick at age 19 was awarded full custody of his four younger brothers (ages 10, 9, 7, and 6). “They have been with me since,” said Kendrick, adding that he is grateful for the support he receives from his mother and other relatives.
Kendrick told us that it is because of his close relationship with his little brothers that he believes his dream is so important.
“I want them to be able to have the positive experiences of my reservation that I had growing up – like being able to ride a horse, pick chokeberries, pick wild turnips, swim in the river, and just enjoy being in our environment which is clean and unpolluted. I would like them to set down their electronics and listen to the older guys tell stories about how they grew up.
“My life was changed a lot after keeping the boys,” he continued. “It was also changed when President Barack Obama came to visit the Standing Rock reservation and he was told of my story. Since then, I’ve been able to meet incredible people and raise awareness about Native American youth issues.”
The Dream as a Solution
Kendrick, whose mentor organization is the Sacred Pipe Resource Center, a longtime partner of Running Strong, is currently involved in in a project called “Wohamble” (Dream).
“The idea behind this project is to help youth on the Standing Rock reservation connect back to the culture to stay away from the negative influences of drugs, alcohol, suicide and others,” he explained. “I think my idea is needed because it connects Native youth from on-reservation and off-reservation and connects traditional Tribal knowledge with science concepts.”
His dream is to have a five-day event the bring together Native youth, and perhaps even non-Native youth, to tour sites in North Dakota and South Dakota to help them understand the importance of the environment.
The camp will feature traditional speakers who would present on topics including traditional plants and medicines, traditional foods, water, Lakota Star Knowledge and apply Native science concepts to all topics. Camp participants would travel to various locales such as the Fort Berthold, Standing Rock and Turtle Mountain reservations, as well as the Black Hills/Bear Butte area to discuss traditional stories and Lakota Star Knowledge.
The Potential Impact in the Future
“I believe it is important for us to be able to form new ways to help youth understand our views of science and living in balance with the natural world and be able to share it with others.
“My idea will impact our community in a positive way because our world is dealing with things like climate change and natural disasters, and pollution of our air, water and land is at an all-time high. It is up to us to change the course of the future by raising our voices about why it is so important to live with the land and protect these valuable resources.
“We are not just a part of history. Native youth are here today and are dealing with some tough issues that make it important for us to raise our voices and use our traditional knowledge in a science-based way to explain to others how important it is to protect these resources.”