Tribal elder Merceline Boyer.
By ROSELYNN WAHTOMY
FORT HALL – Shoshone-Bannock tribal elder Merceline Boyer works with the Language and Cultural Preservation Department as a Language Instructor, she did a presentation on the Traditional Roles of Mother’s on Friday, May 11 at Early Childhood’s Parent Training.
It is the third year the training has been provided, explained Claudia Washakie, Early Intervention Manager. Boyer did the first year’s presentation and was invited back because of her knowledgeable experience on tradition teachings.
Boyer said she was not an expert on the topic and at her age is still learning things. Many of the things she knew know she didn’t know when she was younger. She went on to share what she was told of what she remembered.
“Deniwappe” means traditional teachings.
Boyer said the youth need to be reinforced on how the ancestors lived to strengthen their identity and so they can be strong physically, mentally and spiritually.
Boyer believes Native people have a special connection with the environment as well as the Creator. She said it’s important to know why you are and who your relatives are.
“It’s important to know our relatives so that we don’t make the mistake of getting into relationships with our close relatives,” she said.
Regarding foods, Boyer, said we need to learn all we can about them and learn when to harvest and where to harvest the plants, roots are berries. She said a lot of the foods eaten today are processed and are not good for one’s health by causing obesity and sickness. The ancestors worked hard and were resourceful.
There were rules for young ladies they had to follow, for example when a female was menstruating it was a time for purification. Women on their moon were told to isolate themselves and not eat certain food such as meat and dairy products. They were told to take care of their body and keep themselves clean. The young were told to go out and help around the house, stay active and to ask the elders if they needed help. They were also encouraged to help their parents, work and take part in cultural activities.
Boyer said she believed everyone should lead positive and respectful lives and everyone must respect one another.
She also encouraged education and to learn to make a living in order to support oneself. When one finds someone to be with, make sure he or she is a good partner so the two of you can provide for your family. She said many people today get together and separate and it wasn’t the way to be, because commitment is needed.
Elders often told people to not say bad things about others or make fun, because no one knows what the future holds and you don’t want that coming back on you or your family.
She encouraged to always be honest and to live in a way so you don’t take advantage of others.
Boyer said parenting is the most important part on life. She encouraged to trust and respect children, as well as to love, care and nurture them. She said to practice patience and allow you child to express themselves. She said a parent must provide food, shelter and teachings. Most of all maintain them a safe environment and to use discipline to instruct, not punish. Allow them to make mistakes. Express verbal and physical affections. Celebrate the accomplishments of children.
Boyer encouraged parents to take care of themselves, so they could take care of others.
She said you are your children’s role models, “How you live, how you behave is an example for them. If it's a good thing then they will live good lives. If it's the other way then their lives will be like that.”