Fourth graders at Thomas Elementary School got an up-close look at Native American culture Jan. 31.
Stacey Stabler, a Native American enrolled in the Omaha tribe and member of the Te SiNde (Buffalo) clan, spoke to the fourth graders about her customs and history.
The program was part of the class's history unit, where they study Nebraska history for the year.
Stabler wanted to address both the cultural differences between Native American children and point out the similarities to mainstream students.
“I want to go over my family traditions, customs, things that I was exposed to when I was little and how they are now,” Stabler said. “I don't want to go too detailed because these are only fourth graders.”
One difference she pointed out was as simple as paying close attention to diet. For her clan, Stabler said, it's taboo to eat an animal before its fully grown. That means foods like baby back ribs are off the menu.
The clan believes there will be noticeable repercussions if this rule isn't followed.
“Our skin would be darkened, it will be bumpy and our hair will turn white overnight,” Stabler said. “I've never tried it. That's just one of the things they taught us when we were little.”
Besides the cultural differences, Stabler said she wanted to teach the kids about different family members and their role in the tribe.
“My grandfather is a Roadman,” she said. “He is allowed to pray for a person and to name a person. I want to go over his duties. I'll talk about my grandmother and how she was born and raised on an earth lodge and go over what that was like.
“Then I'll tie in my mother as well and the traditions she taught me.”
Stabler spoke for 45 minutes Friday in the school gym. She said a major challenge was packing in as much information as possible.