Native American Culture Part of Kaelynn James’ Green Bay Life


Eleanor Grosvenor, Staff Writer, Journalism I

Senior Kaelynn James has grown up amid two very different cultures, the Native American tribes of Wisconsin that much of her family belongs to and the bustling city life of Green Bay.

“We are a pretty big family. Our family has an annual event every Labor Day or Memorial Day We’ll go up and camp on our land. We’ll hang out, camp and ride four wheelers or mini bikes and just be together because otherwise we only see each other on holidays. Most of my family is up north on the reservation. We are Menominee and Oneida. When you go up there, it’s really different than living in the city,” said James.

James came to Notre Dame because her mother and uncle graduated from this school. She went to middle school at Holy Family which directed her to Notre Dame because of her family’s passion for Catholic schools.

“If I had to give three words to define myself as a person, they would be loud, kind, and energetic,” James explained enthusiastically.

Growing up on a reservation, she said you have more of your culture around you, with Pow-Wow grounds and schools for the children to learn Menominee.

“Most people try to learn the language, but not a lot of them can because it can be hard with the accents. I can say a couple words, but I wouldn’t be able to understand if someone was speaking to me in Menominee. They try to teach the kids young so they can keep it alive, which is why children go to the school.”

James danced in Pow-Wows, a North American Indian ceremony involving feasting, singing and dancing, when she was little but it involved a lot of travel all over the U.S. and even Canada. It also takes a lot of skill.

“Although I don’t do Pow-Wows, I don’t feel like I am losing my Native American culture. Not a lot of us dance, most of us just danced when we were younger. It costs a lot of money because you are traveling all the time. My cousin does it and she’s good at it, but it takes up a lot of her time.”

James is planning to go to college to study legal studies and criminology because she thinks it is interesting and something she sees herself spending time on.

“Sometimes I feel discriminated against because of my background, but I don’t really pay attention to it. If you are going to be rude to someone because of their culture or race, I don’t need you in my life. I can find someone cooler to hang out with,” said the senior.