“The creator gave us this gem here so we’re going to let it sparkle, we’re going to let it shine, we’re going to polish it up and we’re going to let the people take a good glance at who we are.”
Jason Morsette began his career as a maintenance man and gardener at the Three Affiliated Tribes’ Earth Lodge Village in New Town. In that position, he saw an opportunity to do more for his people. Now, as special projects manager for the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara (MHA Nation) on the Fort Berthold Reservation he’s putting what he learned to use. “The ancestors left us a lot,” Morsette says. “What we are doing will help the next generation.”
Morsette rightly calls himself a man of many hats. On any given day, he may be planning events, escorting a travel writer around the area, standing before the Tribal Council or one of the six different tribal districts, meeting with the North Dakota Native Tourism Alliance, representing native veterans at a powwow or helping bring awareness to the MHA culture and what the Fort Berthold Reservation has to offer guests. “We’re proud Native Americans, we’re proud people of this land,” Morsette said. “We were here before anybody else. We’ve been North Dakota this whole time, we just didn’t know the language. Now we know the language. We want to help bring that language here and for us and to show our language to them, in a good way. Everything’s always got to be in a good way.”
Some of Jason’s favorite things to do include walking in the beautiful hills in and around the scenic Missouri River, getting out on the water and playing in it, hunting, fishing and sharing the hidden jewels that are the breathtaking places and captivating stories of his people.
To learn about all the tribal nations in North Dakota, Jason recommends visiting each tribe and speaking to the people. It is the time and willingness to learn on the part of visitors that allows them to understand and enjoy the beauty, ways of life and variety of the tribal cultures in every corner of the state.
The North Dakota are tribal nations are:
- The MHA (Mandan, Hidatsa, Arikara) Nation
- Standing Rock
- Spirit Lake
- Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa
- Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate
“We want you to go home feeling good,” Morsette assures, “with the gifts the creator allows us to take home like our memories, smiles and dreams. We’re not promised tomorrow, but here, right now, enjoy it.”