NBC Peacock Grey
NBC Learn & LMS

To see full videos,please contact your school's Learning Management System administrator to request a subscription to NBC Learn

Learn More
NBC Universal Peacock
Austin Celebrates His American Indian Heritage
Air Date: 05/21/2014
15 seconds preview, please for full videos.

If you have not already downloaded the new NBC Learn Offline app, to download it. To learn more about the app visit the Help Page.

NOTE: Please make sure the app is open before you click Download.

Austin Celebrates His American Indian Heritage

AUSTIN SHELAFOE: My name is Austin Shelafoe, and I'm from Kent. Today I'm celebrating and learning my Native American heritage.

CHEYENNE BROADWAY: I'm Cheyenne and I'm Duwamish, Chippewa and Sioux, and we're singing and dancing today and celebrating.

SHELAFOE: We're actually brother and sister.

I have friends that i tell them I'm Native American, and I'll go back to 'em and they'll be like, "Oh, what race are you? You're white, right?" And I'm like, "No, I'm Native American."

BROADWAY: "Are you serious? You're Native American?" Like, it's really, that's the whole thing that I get 'cause I'm white with blue eyes, blond hair.

KAREN CORNWOMAN CONDOS (Grandmother): I have some in a bag out there already.

I am known as kyah, grandmother. And I've raised them since Cheyenne was six months old and Austin was two and a half.

Today, we're going to be making a 12-inch drum, a Native American drum.

What you're going to do is going to pull it over with one hand, and you're going to go up the next space.

To the Native American people in general, the drum is known as the heartbeat of the nation. It is a way of communicating to the world in music and sound. It's a way to embrace the differences that we have in ourselves.

If you need help hammering ask for help, Austin's here and Cheyenne's here.

BROADWAY: We have to, like, soak the hide for a really long time. And then you have to make sure the holes on the hide aren't too close but aren't too far apart, you have to make sure the hide’s stretched out, and you have to make sure it's wet when you do it, 'cause if you do it dry, it won't bend the right way that you want it to.

MIKE EVANS (Blue Heron Canoe): Remember all these songs have a song carrier. Somebody had a song come to them and they brought it into this world.

I'm the father and the skipper of the Blue Heron Canoe. And it came to life in the spring of 2007 and it's been with us on tribal journeys ever since then.

SHELAFOE: We're gonna be going canoeing today. Hopefully the waters are good, and hopefully the wind is with us, and not against us.

EVANS: Everybody get your paddles and your jackets, then be sure before you get in the canoe that you have your dry bag with your food and your water and all your emergency supplies with you.

I am thankful for all things. [Speaks native language.] Fix my mind, my thoughts. [Speaks native language.]

So most people don't know that the city of Seattle is named after the chief. He was a great war chief and a great leader of the people and including the Duwamish.

SHELAFOE: Being in the canoe means to me that this is a good solid step to following my ancestors 'cause they've done this before in the past. This is like the highways for them 'cause they've traveled through the water thousands of years ago.

Usually I'm lead pull, so I have to be up in front, and I have to set the pace for everybody. And I also have to look out to see if there's any, like, logs or rocks in the water that might-- we might run into.

We got a log dead ahead!

And then I also have to make sure that everybody else behind me is doing good in the pace.

NATALIE PEREZ: We've known each other for a few years now and we are just so close. We're, like, brother and sister practically. And I learn so much from him.

SHELAFOE: I like that whenever I go on the water, it's a different place. It's pretty much a different world than, we get to see things we don't usually get to see on land, and go places we don't get to go on land.

I'm emptying out my thoughts. Like, my emotions, like, my baggage.

CONDOS: We are here. We will always be here. And even though we don't have a card or something, we're the only ones in the world that have to prove who we are. We are who we are. No one, no one, I don't care who you say, can ever take who you are.

SHELAFOE: [speaks native language] Fix my thoughts.
[speaks native language] Fix my body.
[speaks native language] Fix my spirit.
[speaks native language] You make them as one.
[speaks native language] And you will be well in this life.
[speaks native language] So be it.

In Photos: Celebrating Native American heritage

One hundred and two years ago, Red Fox James, a member of the Blackfoot Tribe of Montana, rode over 4,000 miles on horseback. He was on a mission to gather support for a day that would honor Native Americans.

Read more on Newsela