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Culture Reservation

The story behind a move from the Lakota Sioux tribe to North Platte, NE

Freshman+Joey+Greenamyre+wears+her+traditional+tribal+earrings.+Greenamyre%27s+grandma+beaded+them+for+her%2C+and+she+wears+them+almost+every+day.+%22I+try+to+fit+in+and+dress+how+other+people+do%2C+but+I%27m+also+trying+to+stick+with+my+original+culture%2C%22+she+said.+Photo+by+Gracia+Lantis.
Freshman Joey Greenamyre wears her traditional tribal earrings. Greenamyre's grandma beaded them for her, and she wears them almost every day.

Freshman Joey Greenamyre wears her traditional tribal earrings. Greenamyre's grandma beaded them for her, and she wears them almost every day. "I try to fit in and dress how other people do, but I'm also trying to stick with my original culture," she said. Photo by Gracia Lantis.

Freshman Joey Greenamyre wears her traditional tribal earrings. Greenamyre's grandma beaded them for her, and she wears them almost every day. "I try to fit in and dress how other people do, but I'm also trying to stick with my original culture," she said. Photo by Gracia Lantis.

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For a lot of people, the majority of culture we are exposed to in our daily lives is limited to ordering Chinese takeout on Friday nights and getting the occasional henna tattoo. For junior Joey Greenamyre, this is not the case.

Greenamyre is a member of the Lakota Sioux tribe and previously lived on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. She was born and raised on the reservation, but attended school in Gordon, Neb. Her family moved to North Platte in June of 2016 to live closer to other relatives, and in search of a new start. For her, this has been no slight adjustment. “Most people where I used to go to school were Indian, everybody got along,” she said. She finds that her life on the reservation was much more open. “You’re always surrounded by people you know, and things just have a lot more meaning.”
Although there was a strong community feeling on the reservation, Greenamyre has noticed a similar feeling in the air around North Platte and at NPHS. “They’re a lot nicer and more understanding here,” she said. She is quick to notice the accepting nature of her peers. “It’s different here, people are more open-minded,” she said.

I identify as native, and I have native blood in me.”

— Junior Joey Greenamyre

However, the difference in culture has still created a barrier between her and her classmates. “A lot of people think that Natives are just aggressive drunks or peaceful hippie people or Pocahontas, but they don’t realize that we’re all the same people,” said Greenamyre.
She feels as though many people have a warped view of how native life is. “All of us natives are just like everybody else, just with more culture, more spirit, and we understand the Earth better.”
On the reservation, Greenamyre attended Powwows and a few sun dances. “Powwows are huge dances that are like a praise to the spirits,” she said. “People dress up in their Indian
attire and a dance for your tribe in one big circle.” In Powwows, some natives will be singing, others will be dancing or drumming, and some will just be watching. Sun dances are like Powwows except smaller in size.

According to Greenamyre, the reservation is just like a small town that nobody knows exists. “It’s a little rugged, but it’s still a beautiful place for those that live there.” Some people who live on the reservation work in surrounding cities, but there are jobs on the actual reservation as well. “There are hospital jobs, there is a Taco Johns, a Pizza Hut, all kinds of places,” she said.

Greenamyre feels like one of her greatest challenges has been trying to find the balance between living in a town with significantly less diversity, but trying to stay tied to her Native culture. “I grew up around natives, I identify as native, and I have native blood in me,” she said, “but I try to dress and act how everyone else does, I’m weary of people looking at me, and I don’t like standing out.” Despite this, she’s still managed to find ways of keeping her culture close to her at all times. “I wear beaded earrings almost every day because it reminds me of my culture, and where I’m from, and how I stick with my Lakota identity,” said Greenamyre.

As much as she misses her home and family, Greenamyre thinks there are positive aspects as well. She said, “I’ve gotten emotionally and physically better since coming here.”
All though everyone is different, she thinks we’re all more similar than we think when it comes down to it. “I’m just like everyone else, I’ll treat you kind, if you’re nice to me.”

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About the Writer
Anam Vaziri, People Editor

A fan of not going to the Journalism printer.

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