Guest Speaker Walt Pourier visits Arapahoe High School
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On Thursday, February 16th, Walt Pourier (Oglalahakita) of the Pine Ridge reservation visited Arapahoe High School to speak for the school’s Plain Indian Studies/Stories Class, taught by Arapahoe teacher Lary Kleeman. The class covers the culture and history of the Native Americans of the Plains, specifically focusing on the Arapaho tribe and reservation– who have built a strong relationship with the school. Pourier used his experience with Native American culture, and working with non-profits to talk with the students about their role as the “seventh generation”.
When the students walked into their fourth hour class, they were greeted by Pourier and his collection of skateboard decks, along with a few other eye-catching things, such as a drum and a painted buffalo skull. Kleeman introduced Pourier to the class, and then offered him the rest of the hour to speak. As Pourier began, he chuckled and said “I generally like to speak for at least three hours.”
Pourier is a Native American from the Pine Ridge reservation who is the ‘keeper of the pipe,’ a sun dancer, and involved in 13 non-profit organizations. He is the Executive Director of The Stronghold Society, which is a non-profit devoted to helping “the youth.” “The Stronghold Society is a call to action for the youth to face challenges and live life,” said Pourier. He explained that although they fight for ‘suicide prevention,’ the term has a negative connotation, and they prefer to take a positive approach. The Stronghold Society has built a collection of skate parks on the reservations to give the youth a healthy and fun activity.
Pourier offered a lot of insight into his experience with the Lakota nation. “Our people are often referred to as Sioux,” said Pourier, “but we don’t like to be called that. The word is derived from a French word, which means the ‘the enemy are the snake.’”
As Pourier spoke for the class, he talked in a very relaxed and laid back style. This ‘story telling’ type of teaching is often seen in Native American culture, because they pass down knowledge and history through stories. At one point he broke his lecture, and pulled out a large, painted, hide drum, and sang the class a Native American song.
Pourier talked about spiritualities, culture, prophecies, and philosophies. He then referenced the Dakota Access Pipeline, which led him to tell the class of their duty [as the seventh generation] to save the planet and the human race. “It’s not about protecting the planet, it’s about protecting ourselves. Mother Earth has a way of getting rid of things it doesn’t need, and the planet will move on with or without us,” said Pourier.
Pourier’s hour had a large impact on the students, which was especially seen when they all gathered in the front and shook his hand after the class. He presented relevant and wise knowledge to the students through stories and song. Pourier hopes to influence the youth of America and the world to stand up for the survival of the earth and it’s people.