WHS Librarian Seeks To Share And Educate Students About Her Culture | Local news

BOONE – Watauga High School has a new staff member, Dana Ramseur, the new librarian.

But Ramseur is more than just a librarian. She is a spokesperson, educator, organizer of cultural events and mother of a family. Yet even all of these titles don’t fully encompass it. The identity Ramseur cherishes most is his Native American roots.

“First of all, before I am a woman, before I am a human, I am an American Indian,” said Ramseur. “And I know it. No one can tell me otherwise.

When Ramseur was a college student at Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, she was part of a program called the Charlotte Indian Education Program. Through this program, she met Rosa Winfrey, who she said was one of the biggest influences in her life. Ramseur said Winfrey helped develop a deep passion and love for his culture.

“She was everything to us. She was just amazing. She helped me talk, be on time, and work hard. I can’t think of a taller person in my life than she is, ”said Ramseur. “Rosa would say ‘OK, here we are with this tribe. I want you to go up there and say you’re a Lumbee. ‘ She expected a lot from us. I think back to how precious it was because it taught me how to speak in public.

While participating in the Charlotte Indian Education Program, Ramseur traveled to Oklahoma, Montana, Washington and elsewhere as an ambassador for the Lumbee tribe.

The Lumbee people, their tribe, are made up of a unique blend of Algonquians, Iroquoians and Siouans, originally from southeastern North Carolina. They are one of eight distinct tribes in North Carolina and their headquarters are in Pembroke, Ramseur said.

Ramseur grew up in the more urban part of Mecklenburg County where she said there were fewer American Indians, but she made numerous visits to the Lumbee Cultural Center in Pembroke. She attended the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

“I feel a constant desire to return to my cultural home. There’s that need, like I have to come home, ”Ramseur said. “There is this urgency for me. I need to go there just to drink a bit of the family and the culture.

This back and forth between cultures made Ramseur feel divided between his life in Charlotte and his cultural heritage in Pembroke.

“I constantly had to define who I was. In Charlotte, I had trouble defining myself. And then to Pembroke, they’d say things like, ‘You try to speak better than us. You sound like a white girl, ”Ramseur said. “The boys called me an Indian with apples. I was red on the outside and white on the inside. I got super quiet, so they were like, ‘Oh, she’s stuck.’ “

Ramseur overcame this inner conflict in his own unique way.

“My version is that if I become an Apple Indian, I’m going to be a candy. I’m just going to be myself, ”Ramseur said.

Ramseur has written three books, one of which is titled “Poems and Hollers from a Candy Apple”. In his books, Ramseur gives his take on the Native American experience and the Lumbee.

Educating people about Lumbee is one of Ramseur’s biggest passions.

“They are (the Lumbees) not in our history books. What’s difficult is that we can’t tell our stories because they are only available if we tell them ourselves, ”Ramseur said.

Ramseur gave presentations to the students of Watauga High School in a brief – but compelling – overview of the history and culture of the Lumbee tribe and their fight for federal recognition. Ramseur has led these presentations for years, exposing elementary, high school and high school students to an Indigenous culture and history they may never have heard of before.

“I think it’s important because a lot of people don’t realize we exist,” Ramseur said. “We are the minority of the minority. It’s just very important for us to have a voice, and each of our voices is completely different because tribes are different.

Although the Cherokee are one of the most well-known tribes, they are only one of eight distinct Native American tribes located in North Carolina.

“I think a problem for Indigenous people is that non-Indigenous people will bring Native Americans together. There are so many Native American tribes that are completely different, ”Ramseur said. “They have different cultural identities, different cultural celebrations, food, etc.”

The Lumbee people were recognized as a separate tribe in 1885 by the state of North Carolina. Although the federal government recognizes the Lumbee as a tribe, it denies the Lumbee people the benefits that should come from recognition, Ramseur said.

“Funding is how it affects us. There would be more opportunities to do drug addiction prevention, teenage pregnancy prevention, gang violence prevention, ”Ramseur said. “I know we would be better off if we were fully recognized at the federal level. And it’s just a battle. We were promised and promised and we still haven’t got it yet.

Empty promises are a concept far too familiar to Native Americans in the United States

Recent advances in recognition and respect for Indigenous culture through the change of offensive brand designs and team names have spurred an awareness of Native Americans, but the struggle to cope with a long history of displacement and discrimination against indigenous peoples is far from over, says Ramseur.

One of the biggest challenges, she said, that Native Americans face in the United States today is the colossal number of missing and murdered Indigenous women.

“I think one thing that many Native American tribes have in common is knowing someone, whether in our family or in the community, who has been murdered. And these are just the facts, ”Ramseur said. “The bluer her eyes, the faster we’ll try to find her.” The faster it’s on the news. There are countless ethnic girls who are also missing. It’s just not the news on the front page.

It’s not just the coverage of Indigenous women in the present that is being eclipsed. Ramseur said that the history of indigenous peoples in America occupies only a small portion of history textbooks.

“I think the school system can’t teach us a lot of things,” Ramseur said. “It was such a short time ago, and we need to go beyond that and learn more about slavery, the Holocaust and other genocides. I feel like in the state you should know how many tribes there are. There are a lot of people who have no idea. They just think of North Carolina, the Cherokees.

Ramseur said she was excited to bring a new and different perspective to Watauga High School. She also has a passion and love for educating people.

Nathan Bishop is a journalism student at the Watauga High School student newspaper, the Powderhorn. This article was published in collaboration with the Watauga Democrat, Mountain Times Publications and the WHS Journalism Class.

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