16 Dec 2014

Native Americans inspired to treasure culture

6:50 pm on 16 December 2014

First Nations people in the United States have told a Maori woman working for a native American entity that they are using Maori culture to help them to keep their language alive.

Doreen Bennett and native American leader Mashu White Feather.

Doreen Bennett and Native American leader Mashu White Feather. Photo: Doreen Bennett / Facebook

Doreen Bennett is a board director and consultant for Two Feathers International, which supports the restoration of cultural identity, traditional knowledge and practices for indigenous people.

Ms Bennett, of Atihau and Te Arawa descent, says Maori are considered to be at the forefront of indigenous development.

She says everywhere she travels on "Great Turtle Island" (the United States) First Nations people tell her they are impressed by the way Maori have retained their reo and tikanga.

Ms Bennett says the Lakota people, for example, travelled to Aotearoa some years ago to learn about Maori language strategies and also learnt waiata, or Maori songs, and that helps to restore cultural identity.

One thing that has impressed her about native American people, she says, is how in touch they are with the spiritual realm and this is reflected deeply in all their ceremonies.

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