Hello! My name is Mason Borchardt, I’m 16 years old and a sophomore at Stillwater Area High School. I am a member of the Mendota Mdewakanton Dakota Tribal Community and have been involved in groups such as NAPAC (Native American Parent Advisory Committee) and NASA (Native American Student Alliance) for over five years.
For the next six weeks, I will be working with StoryArk to create a video series focused on learning the history of the Native American tribes on the Mississippi. My curiosity in native heritage really stems from my love of nature. I love being able to collect things, rituals of gathering wild leeks and hunting for morels in the springtime. When I’m alone in the woods, there’s this sense of deja-vu that I experience. An understanding that these practices didn’t start with me, that nature has this precursory context that I have yet to learn. While Native American erasure has been given a much deserved platform recently it wasn’t what I wanted the focus of our series to be.
Indigenous culture is such a complex, colorful topic, that restricting myself only to the oppressive aspects of my heritage prevents me from celebrating the legacy of the Native peoples. This is what inspired me to join Pat’s journey down the Mississippi, providing a learning opportunity for both of us. By the end of the six weeks, I by no means expect to learn the entirety of Native history along the river, but to instead be able to learn enough to tell a story about a few of the many vibrant aspects of regional Native culture and our interactions with the natural world.
Stories of Discovery
Follow Mason on his journey to better understand his roots and learn more about the indigenous cultures