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Kevin Tacan

December 2014

Kevin Tacan photo

  • Home Community:
    Sioux Valley Dakota Nation
  • Cultural Identity: Dakota
  • Current Position:
    Brandon School Division Aboriginal Elder
  • Education/Training:
    BA 4yrs honors
  • Roles/Responsibilty:
    To provide cultural expertise in the forms of traditional counseling, staff support, developing lesson plans and curriculum, classroom presentations, and ceremony opportunities for students.
“As indigenous people it is important for us to continue with our education and acquire as much knowledge as possible.”

What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
It was difficult to initially be viewed as an Elder as I was 30 when hired. However, the many Elders who hired me supported and encouraged my work. The Brandon School Division staff continue to be supportive. Racism has always been an issue but I’ve seen positive steps in that area.

What or who inspired you to really go after the profession you are in now?
I was a first year university student at the time and was approached by Elders to apply for the position. I was hesitant but I did. As you know it’s difficult to say no to your Elders. I would have to say my Grandfather Eli Taylor, my mother Marina, and my aunt Mary Hall were my inspiration. My family has always been supportive of what I do. They’ve all encouraged me and I look to them as role models and have a lot of respect for what they have accomplished.

What critical choices or decisions did you make that helped you get where you are today?
My focus at a young age was to learn my culture and participate in ceremony. My grandfather and many others in my family have been role models and motivators for me. This was my priority and is my priority before everything. I was told that when I leave this world all I will take with me is my being Dakota.

Message of Encouragement:
The older people in my tribe have always told me that you learn something new everyday. The vision quest teaches us to sit still and listen. To also recognize that everything is in motion, that everything is alive. It is here where we find how we fit into that continuous motion and what our role is. Our first teaching is to listen and learn. As we grow older roles change but those who will be keepers of knowledge will continue to listen and learn and will find many avenues to use this skill.

Education is important as we learn how the world works around us. As indigenous people it is important for us to continue with our education and acquire as much knowledge as possible. This means our knowledge must coexist with mainstream education. Many say they struggle with balancing both but one is what you do, the other is who you are and should be lived everyday.

You will meet many barriers but we come from strong people who have persevered through many centuries of hardships to become distinct nations. It is important to meet our current needs in today’s society and to ensure our continuance by pursuing education that leads to a profession that helps the people as a whole. We all want to help our people. The generations of negative attitude and mistrust can be broken down by this next generation of students. It is your task to continue with our cultural and collective goals to ensure our survival. Whenever things get tough find an Elder. Find someone to talk to and never put barriers in front of yourself, because we face enough barriers already. Believe you can accomplish the impossible. Our people once did miracles because of their faith. This can happen again.

Continue to follow both roads as we face many challenges in the future from current political issues, to the loss of language and culture that plagues many First Nations. The White Buffalo is a reminder for us to not lose who we are as a people. Language is a connection to our identity and history and it is important to find our way back to that red road. Our Old people pray about wichoichaghe shakowin meaning seven generations. It is our responsibility to pass on our culture as true as we can, without altering.