'Tis the season to share and remember

'Tis the season to share and remember

Brian Bull was News Director for South Dakota Public Radio, then Assistant News Director for Wisconsin Public Radio before coming to ideastream where he covers business, economics, politics, and other important stories across Northeast Ohio.

Date Posted: 
2011-12-17 14:18

Blog Series:


A very Merry Christmas and happy holiday season to you all! One of the best things I’ve enjoyed as a journalist is the opportunity to learn how many folks – including native people – ring in the Yuletide cheer. I remember a Yankton Sioux recollecting his childhood in South Dakota, where an Indian Santa brought toys, food, and clothes, to the tribal community center in the 1950s. Kris Kringle told all the kids that he’d just arrived via flying saucer (sci-fi was big back then).

I remember an Oneida recollecting how much she enjoyed sitting next to her grandparents’ wood-burning stove during those infamously arctic Wisconsin winters….sipping hot chocolate sweetened with maple sugar, and hearing tribal creation legends passed down through oral tradition.

I also remember a Mandan-Hidatsa man telling me how he spent the holidays dropping in on elders on the rez, to make sure their heat was on and to spend some time visiting them if they were short on company.

And from my own personal experience, I remember visiting my relatives out on the Nez Perce reservation in Idaho, who – despite hard times – always managed to get a fresh pine tree decorated, and lined with presents for the kids. Often the heavy aroma of baked ham, fry bread, and huckleberries filled the kitchen, as parents assured each other that next year would be “a good year” for their family. Even when times were rough, they worked to make sure Christmas came through for the children.

Whether on the rez, in the city, or in the burbs…whether in the frigid Midwest, the damp Pacific Northwest, the hot and dusty Southwest, or muggy East Coast….native tradition has always included family in its special observances. Sometimes that family is a blood relative. Sometimes it’s that stranger who became a friend, who is as much a part of one’s life as kin! I hope that all of you enjoy this holiday season in someone’s warm and loving company, as 2012 arrives with its own gifts for the days ahead.


Brian Bull, Vision Maker Media Chair

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